- 23rd January, 2019
Scaling up your Business
101 blog posts
Is scaling up your business something that you need to do but you don’t know where to start? Lets get going with some tips and advice.
You did it, you went through the pain, the fear and the excitement of going it alone and starting your business. Now it is time to look at getting the rewards for your labours by scaling up your business. How do you go about this and what do you need to consider before taking that next leap in your business’s life?
Fake it till you make it
Start to set the stage now and pretend that you are bigger than you are. Get a mailing address in the location you want to be in to “pretend” you have already made it. Think bigger and talk the bigger story before you start scaling up your business. People give themselves bigger titles like Operations Director and talk about the team all the time when in fact it is them and the cat. This not only helps other people’s perceptions of what your company can achieve for them it also helps your mindset to start scaling up your business quicker.
It is important to focus on what you want to be and not what you are. Decide what your ambition is. Is it to be £1m business, £5m or£10m? Whatever it is start thinking and behaving like that now. It is important to set a target as the decisions you make as a £200k business are very different than that of a £10m business.
Do you have all the skills you need?
Start to think early on about the skills that you are using now and the skills that you will need to get your business to the size you aspire to be. Now is the time to sharpen the saw and get yourself skill ready for the change in roles you will be doing. It is also the time to look at the new skills you will need your team to have or new employees to have. If you are going to be recruiting new people focus early on the gaps that will exist in your business skills and recruit to fill these.
Don’t be afraid of getting external, temporary help and advice as you start to build you business. There are also local business support networks often with government funding that give free advice and help. In Manchester we have the amazing Growth Hub who offer this service.
Is your technology up to it?
For the type and size of business you are looking to grow, technology and being tech ready can get you strides ahead. Look carefully at the technology that could help you make your leap easier and smoother. Don’t wait for the issues to occur and then try to solve them with technology. This can really set you back. Likewise interrogate every piece of software that you are looking to buy. Be sure that it will do what you want it to do, is future proof and is not costing you more than it needs.
Keep your customer touch points in-house
Contracting out some of the skills needed to grow is often a great way of being able to avoid any skills gaps and make use of established technology. However, whatever you do that touches your customer then keep it in-house. You don’t want anyone else to have a relationship with your company other than the people who are on your payroll. Business and sales are personal. You will have seen other companies as they grow outsourcing these touch points like call centres or customer service and it never works.
Investors invest in people not product
If you are going to be looking for investment to scale up don’t think it is your product or service people will invest in. As much as obviously it is important to get your product as investable as it can be, it is you and your management team that is more important. You need to work very hard on your personal presentation and approach as a great product but a team that an investor can’t work with will not get investment. However, a great management team who an investor can work with and knows will commit everything to making it work can get away without having to have a perfect scale up ready product.
Your differentials count as you scale up your business
As you scale up your costs will increase and so your sales and profitability are even more important. Many companies in this position end up differentiating on price out of desperation to get sales in. What are your differentials now and how can you make the gap for these and your competitors even wider? Talk to your customers about what they would want and choose over price and make it happen.
Interrogate your competitors
Looking at your bigger competitors is a great way of learning best practice. If you can get some insight in to their business model, employees, technology it is a great place to start looking at who you could do it even better.
Keep hold of your values
When you started your business, you had key values that you performed to and have made you a success so far. When you start scaling up your business, you are handing over some of the reigns to others and your time will be pulled in different directions. Make sure that everyone understands your key drivers and values and that you monitor that they are staying as you would like them to. You need to make sure you communicate these values clearly.
When you are looking to build your team, it is important to not look at skills first. You need to have synergy with your colleagues. It is important that you do like them and that you can get on with each other. Recruit to make sure that they have the right personality for your scale up first. Once you are clear on this then look for the skills or for people you can train the skill as you scale up your business.
When you have your teams make sure your values are communicated well as you scale up your business. Your teams need to understand the way you expect them to work and behave in work. It is not having rules but a structure to your values that is important.
Assess your barriers to scaling up your business.
Finally, when scaling up your business it is always good not to worry about failing but to concentrate on what it will be like when you succeed. However, it is good to be prepared and to think of what could prevent you from going. It could be your location, premises, competition, skills. Whatever it might be, have in the back of your mind what you will do to ensure if it is an issue it will not slow you down too much
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