Most entrepreneurs are convinced they’re building the next big thing, but, in reality, over 90 per cent of start-ups fail. To scale a start-up from £0 to £100 million, companies need to ensure they are creating something people want, build the right technology and execute an efficient business scaling strategy.
A strategy for scaling your business includes:
- Know your customer
- Get your story straight
- Automate where you can
- Ignore the competition
- Hire the best, not the same
- Short feedback loops
- Get noticed in the media
What’s the difference between ‘scaling’ a business and growing one?
Actually, there is a difference between scaling a business and business growth, although the two are used interchangeably.
Growth refers to increasing revenue at the same rate that a business adds resources, whether that’s team members, technology or capital; scaling a business is when you identify a way to grow faster than your existing resources and revenue really allow.
What successful scaling involves
Building a successful company is about much more than increasing sales and revenue. When scaling a business, an organisation also needs the right strategy, team, and processes in place to support new customers, products and services. Successful scaling involves building and executing a long-term, sustainable strategy.
#1 – Know your customer
Every successful company has a loyal customer base and without one, your business will not see growth. To build your business, begin by putting customers at the heart of your messaging. Use their language to engage with them; what is it they say you provide? How do they describe your product?
Don’t begin with a solution and look for a problem — find out what your customers’ problems are, then offer the way you can solve them. It’s not about your product or services, it’s about how you can help your customer. While this may seem obvious, it’s one of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make.
Also, is your business idea even viable when it comes to a scaling strategy? Many ideas are just too niche or just iterate an existing product. Consider the long-term and how you will build from where you are now.
#2 – Get your story straight
Every one of your employees should be on board with your story and your company’s journey. If there’s any doubt on the inside, this might create doubt on the outside. Make sure every member of staff understands how you benefit the customer and how to effectively translate your brand’s mission. And this is especially true for your sales team, as this gives them the confidence to go out and sell.
#3 – Automate where you can
Implementing repeatable day-to-day processes and effective standardised workflows is key to your business scaling strategy. The average worker spends roughly 40 per cen of their day on boring manual administrative tasks. Think about which processes could be automated or made more efficient to help your company more effectively scale — whether that’s onboarding team members, invoicing customers, or using customer relationship management software for your sales and marketing teams.
#4 – Ignore the competition (mostly)
The reason your company exists should be that your competition is failing. Continually comparing your business to your competitors misses the point. Focus on providing a solution to an existing problem, that’s what makes you different.
Of course, the internet is a wonderful resource for examining your competitors’ online marketing strategies – and not only direct competitors but companies similar to yours in other sectors. Take what you can use and leave the rest, as the saying goes.
#5 – Hire the best, not the same
Another common fallacy is to hire people in our own image. What you are not looking for is another you. In fact, diverse teams perform up to 30 per cent better in a range of categories, according to Gartner.
Another common mistake when scaling a business is the strategy to hire people from established companies. Instead, hire people who can build something from nothing. If there are two skills that you should value above any others, it’s those you can’t teach: attitude and intelligence. Hiring from outside your niche won’t be an issue if they’re a quick learner, they work hard, and they believe in your vision.
#6 – Short feedback loops
Regular feedback should also be part of your business scaling strategy, so you can iterate with short feedback loops. Every one of your employees should be on board with your story and your trajectory. However, when building a successful start-up, your product and your processes are going to need some tweaking. When making changes, make sure all feedback is constructive and that every problem has a possible solution.
#7 – Get noticed in the media
Press attention is also an important element. Bill Gates once said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.”
Building and managing a good reputation is about two factors: what your customers are saying about you, and how the media is talking about you. Seek to control this narrative through PR. However, try to include a human element in everything you talk about, as this will make your content more engaging and allow your customers to relate to the work you do.