While a good idea, grit, and a small amount of initial capital may suffice to launch, scaling requires more attention to raising capital, maintaining work culture, marketing, and sales techniques. This process involves laying groundwork beforehand to navigate pressure and rapid change.
Scaling a business is a complex and challenging process that requires careful planning and preparation. While expanding a business may seem like a sign of success, it can quickly become problematic if the necessary groundwork is not laid beforehand. The CEO of YTKO Group, Bev Hurley, learned this lesson the hard way when her company doubled in size from 20 to 40 employees in a matter of weeks, without proper planning. The sudden growth highlighted gaps in HR processes, tech infrastructure, and training procedures that made it difficult to manage the expansion.
The key takeaway from Hurley’s experience is that preparation is essential for successful scaling. When YTKO Group doubled in size again a year later, from 40 to 80 employees, the groundwork for growth was laid before the expansion began, making the process much smoother. Therefore, before starting to scale, it is important to test the preparedness by imagining sudden growth and identifying gaps and weaknesses that need to be addressed.
One critical factor that requires careful consideration is working capital, the capital available for day-to-day expenses, which is vital when scaling a business. Recruitment, bigger locations, more stock, and salaries can prove costly, and it’s crucial to determine whether you have the capital to fund these expenses or whether the expansion would quickly leave you cash-strapped. Additionally, it’s paramount to have a reliable senior team in place before scaling begins. Having a few established employees alongside you, whom you can trust absolutely, can make a significant difference in scaling your business.
Scaling a business requires careful planning and preparation. It’s important to lay the groundwork for growth beforehand and identify gaps and weaknesses that need to be addressed. Working capital and a reliable senior team are crucial factors that need to be considered before scaling. By preparing thoroughly and testing preparedness, businesses can minimize the risks and challenges of scaling and ensure a smoother and more successful process.
How to Scale Your Business Without Sacrificing Company Culture
Scaling a business can bring new opportunities, larger profits, and new employees, but it can also come with risks that may not necessarily be financial. One such risk is the possibility of losing a company’s original culture as it grows, leading to a toxic culture that leaves employees feeling undervalued and unwelcome.
Natalie Lewis, the owner of Dynamic HR Services, works with small businesses that have grown too quickly and lost their company culture in the process. As an HR consultant, she spends half of her time focusing on how companies can maintain their culture as they scale.
The message here is that scaling doesn’t have to harm a company’s culture, and there are steps businesses can take to preserve it. One of these steps is not to hire hastily, as “distressed recruiting disasters” can lead to unsuitable hires. Job descriptions should be detailed and exact to help employees understand their roles from the start.
Expressing gratitude and praise to employees can also help maintain a positive culture, while criticism should be used sparingly. Companies should aim to treat their communication with employees like a bank balance, always aiming to be in the green.
Another important aspect of maintaining company culture is taking the time to onboard employees properly. This means helping them understand and identify with the company’s mission and key objectives. Doing this early on will pay off in the long run, making employees feel valued and contributing to a positive company culture.
Maintaining a company’s culture is crucial when scaling, and businesses can take steps to preserve it. By hiring thoughtfully, communicating positively, and onboarding properly, companies can maintain their culture even as they grow.
Scaling Your Marketing: How to Reach Real Customers
Marketing for small businesses is often straightforward and focuses on a website and a few social media pages. However, when it’s time to scale, marketing requires more thought and effort. The marketing strategies that once worked for small businesses will not help them expand. As businesses grow, their marketing strategies should be tailored to real human beings.
David Meerman Scott, a prolific author and global expert on online marketing, suggests that marketing for scale should always begin with a buyer persona. Businesses should understand who their customers are, what their lives are like, and why their products appeal to them. This requires businesses to put together a short biography of their typical customer.
Once businesses understand their target audience, they need to decide how to reach them. While social media is an effective marketing tool, the manner of marketing is just as important as the medium. Customers no longer appreciate the traditional marketing strategies that fill out contact forms when they visit a website. Customers expect a more personable marketing strategy.
Rather than focusing on the ins and outs of their product offerings, businesses should focus on the customers themselves. Businesses should identify how their products can make their customers’ lives better or easier and solve their problems. By doing so, businesses anchor their product in potential customers’ lives, rather than in their own narrative. This approach makes marketing more likely to hit home and increases the odds that it’ll generate both customer engagement and sales.
Scaling businesses requires more thought and effort for their marketing strategies. The key is to tailor the marketing strategies toward real human beings. By understanding their target audience, businesses can create effective marketing strategies that appeal to customers and increase sales.
Why Honesty and Curiosity are Essential in Sales
Salespeople are often viewed negatively by the public, characterized as smooth-talking, dishonest hucksters. However, according to sales expert Andrew Milbourn, this reputation is not entirely unfounded. In the past, salespeople have been fraudulent and selfish, but it’s time for the profession to be re-imagined with a focus on integrity and understanding.
The key message here is to sell honestly and with genuine curiosity. Milbourn stresses the importance of building customer relationships and understanding their needs, rather than simply relying on pre-made sales techniques. Salespeople should strive to be honest and transparent, as customers are too well-informed to fall for less-than-honest sales pitches.
Milbourn suggests that small business owners gain first-hand experience selling their products to customers to develop insights to share with the sales team as the company grows. Starting with the customers’ needs is crucial to developing effective sales strategies.
Showing curiosity about customers is important in the sales process, as it allows salespeople to develop a deeper understanding of their customers’ problems and how their products can solve them. Instead of focusing solely on making a sale, they should focus on building a long-term relationship with the customer, leading to repeat business.
Overall, the key to successful sales is to be honest, transparent, and genuinely curious about customers. By starting with the customer’s needs and building long-term relationships, salespeople can increase their chances of success and create a positive reputation for themselves and their businesses.
Key Insights from a Serial Entrepreneur: Strengthen Your Core Team and Work on the Business to Scale Up
Mike Lander, a serial entrepreneur, understands the difficulties of scaling up a business, and he has heard all the excuses entrepreneurs make when they fail. Some say the market was too competitive, others claim they suffered bad luck, while some even say they never wanted to grow to begin with. In Lander’s opinion, these excuses reveal that succeeding in business can be challenging. However, he has gained some key insights that can make the journey to the first one-million-pound profit less daunting, and one of those insights is to ensure that your company is well-staffed and organizationally sound.
Many entrepreneurs start businesses with people they already know, and while this is natural, it is not always the best approach. As your business scales, it is important to add experts to your core team, not just your friends, family, and trusted former colleagues. This ensures that you have people who know exactly what they are doing and can contribute to the growth of the business.
Lander also suggests that entrepreneurs need to work on the business, not just in it, to scale their firms. To achieve this, leaders need to disconnect from dealing with day-to-day issues at some point to focus on shaping the firm at a structural level. This means looking at the firm’s organizational design to ensure it is scalable. Leaders need to establish clear lines of communication and accountability and know exactly who is responsible for what. This will ensure that the firm can expand into new regions, take on new employees, or launch a new product without losing sight of who is responsible for what.
Scaling up a business and approaching the first one-million-pound profit is never easy, but bringing in employees with expertise and working on, not just in, the business can make it less challenging. By ensuring that your company is well-staffed and organizationally sound, you can overcome the common excuses entrepreneurs make for their firms’ failure to scale up.
Scaling a business can bring both opportunities and challenges, and it’s crucial to approach it with careful consideration. The key is to be thoroughly prepared for every aspect of the process, from lines of accountability to working capital, leaving nothing to improvisation. It’s important to remember that every area of the business, whether it’s sales, marketing, or company culture, involves real people. Therefore, it’s essential to keep in mind the needs and lives of both customers and employees when implementing any strategy. By doing so, you can ensure that every decision made during the scaling process is anchored in the reality of the business and the people involved.
Inspired by a book “Scale for Success”; Jan Cavelle