According to research, more than half of UK business owners don’t have a scaling up strategy.
A scale-up is a business of 10 or more employees, has been operating for more than three years and seen growth of 20 per cent or more in turnover or employment.
While SMEs make a significant contribution towards private sector turnover, their business development is significantly behind their international counterparts.
With this in mind, here are five steps companies should follow when preparing to make the next step and scale from Quivira Capital’s Rajiv Nathwani.
>See also: What scaleups have in common
When you’re looking to grow, being aspirational is key. Hire based on where you want to go and invest in the office space to match. This will avoid you being overloaded when expanding your operations and being rushed to fill positions reactively – people are the life blood of your business so taking the time you need to find someone appropriate is essential.
Similarly, securing the right office space is crucial to creating a conducive working environment and company culture. Don’t leave it till you’ve out grown your current office to make the move – being rushed can easily lead to mistakes being made.
When thinking big, it’s crucial that you retain a sense of where you are now and what your business is about. Don’t make hires you can’t afford or who you know have a strong set of expertise but won’t fit into your company dynamic. It’s important you grow the business you want to have, not just whatever will allow you to expand.
Create the right scale-up mindset
If you, as the company head, are the only individual invested in scaling your business you will never be able to drag it up alone.
You must ensure that all your employees, regardless of what level they are, are acquainted and aligned with your plan so they can contribute to its growth. Asking for their input before implementing your strategy, and continuing to keep your door open to their feedback, is key.
Clear communication will help you establish what’s important to them and demonstrate how the company’s development will benefit them, which will ultimately keep them motivated as you strive towards a common growth goal.
Work on yourself
Attracting the skilled workers and right kind of business that you need to grow is dependent on your management skills and sector expertise. As such, it’s essential that you set aside time to continuously grow your knowledge base and ensure you’re remaining at the forefront of your field, and know how to manage your client and internal relationships.
Your improved reputation will attract strong contestants and businesses to you. It will also put you in a position to be an aspirational example for your employees and help them become stronger components of your business, empowering you to pursue further growth.
Boost your presence
If you’re going to scale up, prospective clients and investors must be able to find information about you and your business easily, both in the media and on your own website.
Seek professional council on how PR and marketing can place you in front of key business leaders, investors and industry experts in the press.
Secondly, ensure your website includes a prominent explanation of your offering on the home page, with case studies to demonstrate your capabilities. Also consider adding a biography for yourself and other team members on an ‘about us’ page. Not only will this give you an opportunity to briefly outline your expertise, but add a level of personality to the company which will distinguish you from competitors.
Before you do so, carefully consider how you want to position yourself. It’s important that you establish a consistent public profile that reflects who you are at this juncture rather than who you were at the start-up stage.
Its undeniable that growth requires financial investment. With banks reluctant to lend to small businesses, it’s vital that you optimise your chances of securing funding through learning to speak the language of investment. Once you have the finances you need it’s critical that you manage your expenditure so that you have a continuous flow, rather than finding yourself high and dry.
Scaling up is a daunting and challenging process. However, if you’re aspirational, willing to include employees in each stage of the growth process, dedicated to improving your capabilities and increasing your public presence, all while keeping your finances in mind, you can make yourself a force to be reckoned with on a larger scale.
Rajiv Nathwani is a founder and director at Quivira Capital.