Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin, once said, “Every success story is a tale of constant adaptation, revision, and change.” No one succeeds by stagnating. Growth is a natural process of responding to the changes around you and your business. Adapting to new surroundings is crucial in order to survive (and especially to thrive).
Having a growth mindset for your business is important and it will ultimately be a good decision—given you’re prepared for it. Many small business owners are afraid to scale as it’s a big step to take and there’s never any guarantee it will go in their favour. But growth doesn’t come risk-free. Change is always difficult to adapt to but incredibly rewarding if done right.
Growing your business through scaling can be scary but with the right factors in place, it doesn’t have to be. It’s a great way to rake in more profit without sacrificing any other areas of your business. Productive staff, the right facilities, and customer experience can ready you to grow exponentially and to succeed in the long run.
What is scalable growth?
Scalable growth is the ability to increase revenue while still maintaining or even lowering costs, increasing profit in the long-term. It means that you’re able to meet larger demands that won’t burden the systems you have in place as they’re already sustainable and won’t drain your budget.
It’s different from regular business growth where your revenue increases at an equal pace as your resources. Scaling entails revenue increasing with production staying the same or increasing at a slower rate. Revenue would increase and costs would remain a steady line with the margin between them much larger than just regular growth (the margin being your profit). Your company will be able to withstand the growth in one area without any of the other areas suffering.
Scaling your business requires efficient processes, a good team, and good customer service in order to be able to deal with the increase.
Funding for scalable business growth
Scaling your business requires you to have adequate funding that will support the increased amount of production. Consider hiring an accountant that can assist you with financial matters and advise you on your options for funding. They’ll coach you on how to go about accelerating the business, especially since scaling requires a sudden surge of money to meet production expectations.
Even if you’re confident in your company’s steady cash flow, it’s worthwhile to consider more funding options. Commercial lenders, angel investors, and other lenders can become sources of funding, each with their own benefits and risks.
Ensure that you’re confident with how you’re presenting your business to these lenders by going over your business plan. You want them to know what you and your business are all about right away. Be confident and explain how you’re going to make use of the money. Show them that you’ve mapped it all out and have carefully made contingencies, too. Lenders and investors will only work with people they trust so make sure you’ve got systems in place to carry out your plans.
Should you scale your operation?
If it’s in your business goals to grow and to expand, then scaling is definitely a good idea. It increases profit, capitalises on efficiency, and brings about new opportunities to get your product or service out there.
These areas in particular are what you need to focus on in order to scale:
- Staff pricing
In terms of contractors, start making judgments about whether or not the people you’ve contracted are being fairly paid—especially if they’re carrying out specific tasks. Whether it’s freelancers or graphic designers you’ve hired for a specific project, reassess their role and what they contribute. Go over what you agreed on, what their deliverables are, and if they’re fulfilling them. Ask yourself: How can I best utilise their skills to scale up?
Equipment is a big factor here as there’s a trade-off to be made. Maybe the most up-to-date equipment available to create your product bears a heavy price tag. But factor in how quick it works or how much it produces. Ask: Will it double your output given the same amount of time? Will it be more efficient and sustainable as compared to an older model despite its price? A newer iteration, despite its cost, might be a better investment for sustainable growth.
Re-examine how much your staff is being paid. Are they being paid fairly? Is it proper compensation for how much work they put in? Look into incentivising your staff for doing well. Maybe you can offer them compensation for doing well. Or you can even publicly recognise them with certificates or by announcing their good work at the next team meeting. Showing your appreciation will only positively reinforce them to keep learning and succeeding.
If scaling sounds like it’s what you feel your next step should be, you’ll need the three following key components already set in order to handle the scale up.
1. Having the right staff
Having an efficient staff that you trust to make decisions even without you will help you. Imagine increasing workload and taking on more customers with a team that is inefficient. That would only cause more problems and make growth impossible. And customers would only grow frustrated with a team that can’t take on their demands.
Make sure your staff is willing to learn and grow. Willingness to learn plays a big role because scaling can lead to their responsibilities changing over time as the business grows. People who are problem solvers are great additions to your team. Invest in people and their hard work will pay off.
2. Utilising equipment and facilities
Even if the team is incredibly efficient, it’s difficult working with outdated software and hardware. You could have maths prodigies on your team but if your computers are crashing and the team can’t make the most of their work that day, there’s no point to it.
It’s also about security. The safety of a business’s data is of utmost importance and up-to-date security systems for all the computers and other equipment can protect that. Encrypting your files and making sure they’re secure is worth the extra investment.
This goes for their immediate work environment, too. If it’s poorly-lit with old-fashioned amenities and furniture, it could decrease productivity. Having a comfortable work environment extends beyond interpersonal relations. It’s also got to do with what they physically interact with when they come to work.
If you ensure that you have high-quality equipment and facilities, you can definitely boost morale in the workplace.
3. Customer experience
An increase will mean that your company will be dealing with many more interested customers. More customers means more interactions, more orders, and more questions from those interested in your product or service.
Making sure that your audience feels heard and like they’re interacting with someone who’s excited to help them is a priority as it keeps them happy. It’s proven that happy customers often turn into loyal customers. Loyal customers will continue to purchase and will even spread the word for you.
Good customer experience stems from positive interactions. With good experiences from your company, a happy customer will more likely recommend your brand to others. So ensure that your team listens, answers questions, and satisfies the customer to the best of their abilities.
Using a feedback system will also be smart as it allows you to see from the other end of the transaction. You’ll be able to learn more about what the process looks like from an outsider’s perspective.
Tips for small business growth
If you’re thinking of scaling your business and feel you have the means to do it, here are three more tips to help you find your footing.
1. Build your email list
You’d be surprised to know that contacting people via an email list is almost forty times more effective at acquiring customers than social media marketing. People are still checking their emails daily and that’s something companies can take advantage of.
Use catchy subject lines, personalise the emails to tailor-fit your customer based on their purchase history, and assess which emails are garnering clicks so you know what kind of languages and approaches are working. Avoid sounding like an automated message—people react to feelings and they respond especially well when they’re made to feel special, thought of, and heard.
In terms of how to collect these emails, you can employ several different techniques. Ensure your website has a clear area where you tell them they can sign up for your newsletter or to stay updated about new products. Use social media to gain attention and have your links land on a page that asks for their email address. Even asking for feedback will be helpful as it gives you access to their contact information.
Growing your business goes hand-in-hand with growing your customer base. Reaching more people through email and other digital tools is a great way to expand your audience.
2. Offer social proof
Social proof is when your product or service has been evaluated by a customer or user and they offer feedback—usually publicly in the form of reviews, testimonials, etc. They usually detail if your product or service worked, if they’d purchase again, and if they’re satisfied with their purchase.
Most people rely on these types of social proofs in order to find out if the product or service is worth buying and if the company is trustworthy. Customers feel much more comfortable knowing that other people have purchased from the company before and have had good experiences.
For example, you’re more likely to click on something that’s been rated 5 stars by 150 people than no stars. That’s because you can trust that 150 people went out of their way after their purchase to say something positive, making it more likely for you to have the same experience.
Glowing reviews can definitely make a difference. Testimonials attest to how trustworthy a company’s products or services are can significantly boost sales. If you place these testimonials on your website, the click-through rate will increase dramatically.
3. Create strategic partnerships (or joint ventures)
Having an ally when you’re trying to grow can be instrumental. Not only will you have access to your partner’s strategies, but their insights and how they run their company, as well. You have the opportunity to learn what does and doesn’t work for them and if you can apply it to your own processes.
Strategic partnerships can make growing your business a lot easier. Because you’re partnering with another small business, you’ll have a better chance against bigger competition. You’re also exposed to a bigger market and have the chance to work with the audience your partner has already established.
It doesn’t come easily, however, as many joint partnerships can be unequal. Which is why you have to go through a comprehensive evaluation process and assess if forming an alliance company you’re thinking of will result in a beneficial partnership.
Ask them questions about their business and their values first and see if they align with yours. Get to the heart of how they operate and, if they’ve had partnerships before, discuss what happened. And once they’ve presented themselves to you, do the same for them. After all, the partnership has to work for them, too. It’s reciprocal and you both have to pull the weight.
Scaling and growing your business can be a big step in your life as a business owner. It takes a competent team, efficient processes, and a special emphasis on customer experience. With these in place, you’ll be able to evolve and grow, expanding your business’s reach to more customers.