I get it, you want to scale the business. The dream: You imagine fine offices. Arriving at your office at 10am, all your staff are busy being productive, delivering value and growing the business. You note the order with appreciation, the whole business running like well-oiled machinery. A smile crosses your face as you anticipate all the extra satisfied customers this month, and of course the healthy dividend. Once again, you’ll be able to proudly present another successful period to the board. You know that you’ve invested your time wisely to build a solid foundation to scale the business.
When you scale your systems are key. Our Business System: An Essential Guide to Growth guide will help you design a robust system for better results.
You muster the determination to think
The reality: You arrive at 7am before anyone else has arrived and know that you’ll be the last to leave. Smiling to yourself, you muse about having a bed in the office. Then you have a pang of anxiety that if things get worse at home, the bed in the office might become a real possibility. Fear of failing drives you and the business to work longer and harder. In a moment of insight, you realise that all the uncertainty and fear are making it hard to think. Corralling your thoughts, you muster the determination to think about what would make the biggest difference to scale the business. Before you have time to process, you’re distracted by the mountain of work and urgent priorities.
Plan where you want to be
We’ve heard countless times that the first step is getting clarity. Know where you are and where you’re going. That’s tough in the heat of the moment. When you’re focused on getting the job done, there’s not much left over. It’s almost as if you must change heads. Change from focusing on the day to day, to thinking longer term. That’s especially difficult in survival mode. Then there’s the challenge of figuring out what the future looks like and describing that future to create goals and calls to action.
Scale what works
Virtual Financial Directors tell stories of businesses that didn’t realise they were making losses on a product or service. From my experience I know that automating something that’s going in the wrong direction will only get you there faster. When you scale the business, you need to be certain that you’re scaling something that works. After all, you wouldn’t invest in mass production of a product without knowing that you could sell what you produce at a profit. What works is subtle. For example, people buy brands, customer experience or thought leadership.
Moving away from niche
Its not only what worked before. When you scale the business, you’ll be competing with other big players. Small businesses can be niche. Specialist knowledge that serves a small market is of little interest to big players that want economy of scale and lucrative markets. As you scale, you’ll need to be tapping into those richer market seams that will force you to compete on a new level. If you’re a market disrupter, then you’ll need to take that ground before competitors catch up.
The other aspect of moving out of the niche is customer expectation that you’ll provide a broader full-service offering. Of course, each business and market are different, however identifying expected core products and services upfront can help in planning. Planning to deliver profitable products and services to consistent high standards is essential to scale. After all, scaling a product or service that makes a loss will only increase losses to the business.
Losses are not only in products and services. Unfortunately, larger organisations can create areas of inefficiency on a much bigger scale. The business will pay staff each month regardless. Making a concerted effort to improve productivity through better ways of working is an on-going challenge. Few businesses stay the same for very long. What worked one year, becomes an inefficiency the following year. Constant assessment of business performance is key to updating working practices and keeping current. Decisions on processes and systems can increase efficiency and reduce cost. Without a coherent overview of the whole business it’s very difficult to measure and prioritise.
Grow with a Framework for Success
In this article we have looked at the owner challenges of scaling the business. Creating a clear overview of the business, understanding products, services and value to customers. The need to constantly improve business performance to adapt to change and remain competitive. This is much easier with tried and tested techniques and a framework that creates a single view of the business.