“Growing a business” and “scaling a business” may be similar terms but they do not exactly connote the same concept. Many entrepreneurs use the terms interchangeably but in reality, growing a business involves significantly pumping in fresh resources – funds, labor, materials, and space – and recording an increase in revenue proportional to the increased assets. Scaling a business, while in the same direction, involves an increase in revenue without the significant increase in expended resources.
Essentially, when you scale a business, you’re keeping costs at the same marginal level while working with already-circulating resources and extra strategies to boost profits. It includes growth and development but practically, it requires more strategic planning than further financial expenses.
According to award-winning Irish bodybuilder and fitness CEO, Kim Constable, the hardest phase of a business to scale is the starting phase, where many entrepreneurs have absolutely nothing to work with.
“The starting phase of a business is hard because you need to believe you can be successful,” says Constable, mom of four. “You need to drown out the noise around you, put your head down, and get to work. When I first started my business, I had no capital, very little niche influence, and no email lists. I sat down at the kitchen table and did it anyway. I developed my own strategies for scaling, which I learned by watching what other millionaires were doing, and then tweaking to fit my brand.”
Scaling a business at any point in the growth curve involves developing a system of practicable strategies, and below are five highly recommended stages to getting there.
Full departmental evaluation
The first step to scaling is getting a cumulative sense of the milestones you need to achieve. You require a fully detailed report of the progress, current situation, and drawbacks of every aspect of your business. What have you been doing with managing and tracking finances? Is marketing worth the funds already invested? Where are transportation and logistics messing up? What are your followers’ thoughts on your created content? How badly has the production team strayed from initial expectations?
“It is critical to consistently assess and reassess your business,” says Constable, who is also the founder of the Million Dollar Mentor, a personal business coaching mentorship program that teaches entrepreneurs strategies for exponential business scaling. “You need to be meticulous about how you spend your time and money. In the beginning, you may be doing a lot of the business happenings all by yourself, like I was, so organization, assessments, and proper planning all need to be your priorities.
Create a feasible, low-cost plan
The entire idea of scaling is to keep costs at a stable level while finding ways to increase revenue, but in reality, you’d probably have to spend something to scale. For some brands and businesses, these costs would be significant, but remember, you’re not really scaling if the numbers become equally proportional to the increase in revenue. You’d just be “expanding”.
For example, your business may require five more employees for labor to stabilize properly, but you could scale by hiring two passion-driven people with diverse skills and reshuffling working hours to allow everyone a reasonable work-life balance. The actual scaling act lies in the hiring process. You’re not merely picking people with a particular skill set to cover a couple of roles, but you’re zeroing in on passion, ambition, foresight, and people who could really commit to working toward a realistic bigger picture.
Energize your profit channels
This is where the core strategic work needs to happen. Identifying all your customer/client channels allows you to sort them into a table – “most active” to “least explored”. The plan is to set up a working schedule to tap into these channels more frequently and effectively than before. If most of your customers come from Instagram, someone has to get really intentional with Instagram content creation and engagement. There might have to be a slight increase in Instagram ads funds and exploration of new targeting niches. On another hand, you know there’s great potential via Google but you haven’t taken SEO seriously, merely pumping money into ads and getting zero results.
To effectively scale your business, running SEO for your website has to become a major priority and you could runpoint yourself or out-source to a trusted professional.
Automate your business
Business automation tools are pieces of software that allow businesses to scale to such massive extents while boosting productivity and lessening time spent on repetitive tasks. They also help to reduce labor needs and manual responsibilities for employees to focus their time and attention on more pressing issues.
Hootsuite is probably the most popular automation platform and is super-helpful for every business to maintain a consistent social media presence across all channels, manage and schedule content posting times, and monitor customer insights and reviews. ActiveCampaign brings all the marketing automation tools you need in one platform, LeadFormly helps to segment your leads and boost conversion rates without going crazy, and Calendly clears out all the unnecessary back-and-forth scheduling for meetings. Many of these platforms aren’t free but the premium plans are investments that pay off in the long run.
Automation is a super-powered scaling strategy that actually changes the game for your business.
Invest in staff wellness
One of the major markers of a starting business in the earliest phase is physical and mental stress on the founding entrepreneur and supporting staff. Painfully long hours, no vacations, no breaks – just grueling, hard work. This can’t go on forever because human capital is fragile and extremely important. Scaling a business successfully involves making solid efforts to reduce the stress and poor work-life balances endured by the staff and founders.
“Anything my team needs to do their jobs more efficiently and with less stress, I give it to them,” says Constable. “Even if it has nothing to do with my business. I nurture them in and out of the business so they always know I’ve got their backs and will never give up on them.”
In conclusion, scaling at all levels is an important form of business growth. It requires major strategic planning and clear-cut decisions, a lot of which are going to be tough ones. Most times, the phases aren’t going to be black-and-white for your particular business type, niche, location, or product type, but the strategies that work have the same foundations. However, the scaling process is always worth it because a stagnated business is more likely to move downward than forward without any effort. So, move forward.