As businesses grow, sometimes the things they do best get lost in the sauce. This blog covers tips on how to do both – grow at a rapid pace and still deliver outstanding work.
The first thing to point out is that scaling is different to growth. Scaling is about getting better, not just bigger.
If growth is linear (i.e. more resources equals more revenue), then scaling is exponential. When scaling, you want to increase your revenue without a substantial increase in resources. Email marketing is a good example of a scalable activity, because sending a newsletter to 100 customers is the same amount of effort as sending to 1,000 customers, but the engagement potential is massively increased.
If you want to scale your business, you’re going to have to make some changes. But how do you know where to focus your efforts so that your growth doesn’t come at the cost of diluting what it is that makes your business special?
Here are some helpful tips to consider when putting together your business scaling strategy:
Measure and Document Everything First
Before you even think about scaling your business, make sure that everything you do is measurable. You need to know the complexity of every task in your business, as well as who can do it, how many people it requires, how long it takes to complete, and what other tasks it is dependent on. At Hype & Dexter we size our work using a points system, assessing each piece of work and assigning points that correlate with its complexity and the length of time it will take to complete. If you're looking for a more traditional approach - simply use time-based sizing so you at least have a record of how long you expect each task to take.
You'll also want to ensure that you well and truly know your cost of sale and cost of delivery, because knowing what your most and least profitable products are is going to help you set more competitive pricing, and give you better information for adjusting your budgets and forecasts as you scale.
When you are going through every task, document every detail. You can't scale if your business depends on tasks that can only be done by certain people, or if knowledge isn't able to be shared. Once you have identified and measured every task, document how it is done, so that others can follow the blueprint.
Optimise Your Processes
If there are cracks in your business processes before you start to scale, those cracks will only become bigger and scarier as your business grows. You need to build a solid foundation and have streamlined work operation systems in place to enhance your scalability instead of hindering it.
Here are some suggestions for optimising your business processes:
- Automate processes wherever possible to save yourself from getting bogged down with ‘busy work.’ Minimising your manual work will reduce the risk of human error as well as saving you a lot of time.
- Implement a strong training program for new staff to maintain quality and get them onboard with your mission from the beginning. It’ll make a big difference in the long run.
- Avoid giving in to quick fixes and workarounds! Account for scope creep - what might seem like a tiny task you occasionally have to do (instead of creating a more robust solution) may grow into a monster and come back to bite you once you’ve upscaled.
Get the Right Tools in Place
If your business processes aren’t supported by the right tools, you’ll be putting a ceiling on your growth potential. Invest in technology that will simplify your workflows, improve productivity, and help you run your business more smoothly. Most businesses don’t run on a single system, so you’ll need to consider what other tools you can add to your arsenal to improve scalability:
- A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool will help you get the most out of your customer data and enhance team collaboration, especially between sales and marketing.
- Inventory management software to track your stock levels, orders, sales and deliveries.
- Accounting software to run your business’s finances on. Better financial reporting will support better decision making.
- An HRMS (Human Resources Management System) to manage your people, the heart of your business.
- Digital marketing tools to create, test and measure your marketing campaigns.
- A workflow management system that will allow your team to coordinate and organise all their tasks in one centralised platform. Find out if a workflow management system is right for your business.
See Through the Eyes of Your Customers
Think about how your customers will view the changes you are making to scale, and how it will affect their perception of your business. Remember to assure your existing customers that your roots and your mission will remain the same, and that you aren’t going to lose touch just because you are growing.
Establishing robust customer service policies and practices in place will:
- Prevent you from alienating your original customer base because you haven’t budgeted the time to continue delivering the quality of service they are used to.
- Ensure consistent quality across all customer communications.
- Keep all your new customers happy as your business grows.
Invest In Your Own People
Your team is the secret ingredient to scaling successfully. It’s important to figure out the right time to hire more team members, or to start outsourcing work to contractors or freelancers.
Starting out with freelancers is a handy solution to dealing with an increased workload, until you’ve got a better picture of when and how you will need to adjust your permanent workforce. Keep in mind that temporary staff will be less familiar with your company mission and values, so you can run the risk of losing quality if you outsource too much.
Strategic scaling requires hiring the right people for the right role at the right time, so when you’re ready to hire and grow your team, look for people who are flexible thinkers, because your business problems will change as you upscale.
Focus on your passion, start small, dream big, and plan ahead. Scale-up only when you are ready—not just because opportunity knocks.
Don’t start to scale your business until you’ve spent time planning and preparing, and then pace your scaling to allow for your team to adjust to growth as it happens.
One of the keys to scaling a business is knowing when to stop, and adjust to any changes you’ve made to enable scaling. This isn’t to say that you should stop altogether, but scaling gradually will give you time to deal with growing pains as they come up.
According to Bob Sutton, organisation behaviour expert at Stanford’s School of Engineering:
“The hallmark of successful scaling is knowing when to hit the brakes so you can scale faster later.” Growing well is more important than growing quickly.
You don’t want to dilute what it is that makes your business special. You want to grow your business without losing sight of what’s truly important - staying true to your core mission and audience.
Make sure you stay on top of everything while you’re upscaling your business with monday.com
monday.com is a Workflow Management System that powers teams to run projects and workflows with confidence. It’s a simple, but intuitive, Work OS for teams to shape workflows, adjust to shifting needs, create transparency, connect collaboratively, and stop doing manual grunt work. monday.com makes teamwork click.