Every successful small business reaches the point where all of their great work on marketing and advertising brings in more customers than they can adequately handle. While this can be a great spot to be in when it comes to your top line, if your team, customer service, systems or infrastructure can’t deliver and deal with the extra workload from all these new clients, you’ll soon lose them. This is where scaling comes in!
While you may be tempted to just hire a couple of middle-managers to take care of different sections of your business, there are a few strategies that are tried and true for businesses regardless of industry, here are some of them!
- Evaluation and long-term planning: Before you begin any sort of scaling, you first need to determine where you are, what your long-term plans for your company are and how you expect to get there. While at the very beginnings of your business you may be much more focused on getting the product to market, gaining feedback and generating income, you’ll soon be hit by the difficulties of not having enough time or money to follow through with your customers! You need to figure out where you are and where you want to go to know what to focus on. Does it make sense to give up your “steady job” for more risky income but more time for your business, or does it make more sense to outsource tasks and gain a part-time job in order to pay them? What kind of scaling will help you get to your long-term goal quicker?
- Automation – The first step in today’s world is automating some of the more tedious or less income-driving tasks in your business. This is especially true if you are a solopreneur building your first business! Work out your highest income generating tasks, spend 80% of your time on those and 20% of your time automating and systemising whatever isn’t earning you more income! You need to be ruthless with your time as it’s your most precious commodity! With automation you gain leverage, which compounds with time.
- Strategic hiring & Outsourcing – While you may already be outsourcing some of your more technical tasks such as accounting or legal tasks like online mediation, is there anything else you can be outsourcing to save yourself and your employees time? Content writing, SEO, photography, recruitment and customer service are just some of the tasks that can be outsourced to firms or virtual assistants. Doing so adds another layer of leverage onto your company’s time and enables you to focus on the finer details of growing your business
- Focus on your customers – While it’s tempting to only focus on marketing efforts to get more customers through the doors, if they have a bad experience dealing with you, their opinions will spread like wildfire. Make sure at least half of your scaling efforts are to deal with and provide extra value to your current customers. This way you’ll keep them happy, increase their life-time value and gain helpful referrals!
These are just some of the strategies you can implement. The most important thing to bear in mind when scaling however, is whether your business can handle it. Spending a lot of money on scaling before you can afford it is a sure fire way to lose all your hard-earned profits! Scale carefully and think of how you can leverage the most time and money throughout!
John is Managing Director of Cotter Marketing, Ireland’s leading manufacturing product distributor. They specialize in the supply of Gaskets and Vacuum Pumps to some of the biggest pharmaceutical and manufacturing brands in the world.