Why do you want to scale a business?
Why do you want to scale a business? Do you want more people to benefit from your product or service? Perhaps achieve a critical mass? Or maybe, build a legacy? Not every owner wants to scale a business. Some owners decide to stay small for good reason. They may stay small for lifestyle or want to be in a niche. We might think cottage industry, small-scale industry or boutique. Then there are the owners who aspire to grow and scale, the passionate creators that want to play big.
Staying in control
Owners may feel daunted by scale. Understanding your goals and motivations informs your decisions to grow and scale. The business will look and feel different. Your role will be different. The culture will be different. You’ll face more competition. How do you shape the future to build the right organisation? How do you avoid losing the culture that made you successful? Staying in control requires a plan. Creating a vision for the future business is key to staying in control as you scale a business.
Map out the future business at scale
What will the future business look like? Firstly, it will be handling higher volumes of work. When we scale a business, we think about more customers, bigger deals and more trades. That all needs to be quick and slick. Secondly, there will need to more structure and organisation to deliver consistently. Staff will need clear boundaries and objectives. Improved communication and team work. Thirdly, when you scale a business, you’ll run the business differently. More awareness of competition, regulation, markets, growth and performance. You’ll also measure the business differently. Owners find that having a clear picture of the future business helps to plan to scale in concrete and practical steps.
Manage scale-up expectations
Let’s start with a high-level business view. Think of the business as a black box. Owners are outside the black box. Then there are competitors, investors, shareholders, customers, virtual service suppliers, suppliers of software services, other suppliers. What about the regulator’s such as companies house, HSE, ICO, and HMRC amongst others? All these external bodies can impact how the business behaves. Investors and shareholders want assurance that the business is sustainable and managed well. Customers might want great customer experience and a quality product or service. Owners find that using a structured approach to scale a business, ensures nothings missed or left to chance.
Manage scale-up demands on the business
Next up, how to scale how the business converts inputs into outputs. How to scale the staff, structure, processes and systems. People have discovered that what works for small volumes doesn’t work when you scale a business. Imagine a cottage industry compared to an industrial process. They find that it doesn’t scale because it’s too ad-hoc, too manual or too complex. Increasing volume results in backlogs, inefficiencies or quality issues. That’s not the only issue. As the business adapts to new markets and business models, then systems must adapt too. Owners must manage the change from one way to a new way, without impacting production or quality. Scaling a business to meet new demands means scaling how things work.
Scale a business with technology
Moving on, using technology is a proven approach to scale a business. After all, technology is integral to every business. Entrepreneurs may use technology to disrupt a market with a new business model. In any business model, information systems are necessary for automation, reporting and monitoring. When you scale a business, the amount of activity and increased monitoring demands efficient solutions. As mentioned, the demands on the business at scale are far greater. There’s more scrutiny. Owners can’t keep up without help, and using the right technical solution is a big factor. Of course, what works for one business might not for another. Solution fit is critical.
Create strong foundations
In this article we’ve explored the path for an owner to scale a business. We started with looking at motivation and vision. We looked at people, process and systems. Finally, we looked at using technology to support the growing business model. Is that enough?
Scaling a business requires planning and engineering. Let’s take a lesson from the car industry. The Austin Allegro was nicknamed “All Aggro”. Rushed to production, it was expensive, inflexible and unreliable compared to its rival, the Volkswagen Golf. Which one would you buy?
The lessons? A clear understanding of the problem you want to solve. An overarching plan. Design the different components to fit together to scale a business without aggro.
Rogan Hounsell-Roberts is a Founder of KR5 Consulting with a passion for helping people in business. Using listening and other techniques, he helps leaders to clarify the direction and use of digital to grow the business. He helps plan, implement and roll-out tech for the business to accelerate, scale-up and beat the competition.
If you’d like to explore the ideas in this article further or need help and advice, please contact Rogan at email@example.com – to arrange an informal chat.
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