How start-ups can smoothly upscale and compete for big business

From having the right marketing strategies in place to knowing when to outsource, here are some of the top strategies that can help you scale up from Exact Abacus' Gemma Tomlinson.

With an average of 39 per cent of new UK businesses closing within just five years, upscaling your startup can be a challenging venture. You’ll want to build a solid framework for your business to help ensure it grows and, most importantly, flourishes.

Putting the right strategies in motion, employing the right people, and channeling the right mindset: these are essential criteria to success.

Create solid management strategies

Many business owners fall short when they try to grow too quickly. Rapidly recruiting without thinking first about the structure of your company is not a sensible move. Create a solid internal framework that is well-managed so that everyone knows their individual responsibilities. As you upscale, your business should become self-sufficient and be able to function in your absence.

Before you consider employing someone, ask yourself:

  • “Can a computer fulfil this role or can it be outsourced on a part-time basis?” You’ll save time and money by only recruiting for roles your day-to-day business needs.
  • “Do they have more than one skill and have they presented any great ideas?” Those with a multifaceted skillset and creative mindset are particularly lucrative in a startup environment.

Hiring the right people and building a strong workforce leads to continued success and prosperity.

Build strong social marketing practices

No business is an instant success. Getting your brand name out there is largely down to good marketing. And even once you’ve got the attention of your target audience, you’ll still need to continue your marketing efforts to keep them hooked and to attract new potential customers.

Prioritising your marketing strategy and dedicating time to experimentation is important. You may already know what works for your business (and what doesn’t), so it might just be a case of raising the bar. The best entrepreneurs aren’t afraid of experimenting though.

You’ll notice that the businesses that are doing well and have loyal customer followings are those that are harnessing social media. A survey by Hootsuite found that 40% of UK adults believe a strong social media presence is a key factor as to whether they buy from a brand; so it’s more than worth the time and effort to get your channels up to scratch.

Look closely at your social media channels

  • Are users engaging with you?
  • Is your content being viewed? Is it driving traffic back to your website?
  • Do you need to update your channels more regularly?
  • What are your competitors doing well?
  • Which channels are most successful?

You’ll want to keep an eye on what people are saying about your brand on social media. Scalability is just as much about surviving as it is about growing. Contrary to the saying ‘all press is good press’, if your startup is at the centre of a PR fiasco, your chances of staying afloat are limited. More and more people use social media to air their complaints about brands, so you’ll need to be ready to respond to comments from your customers.

Avoiding any issues can seriously prevent a business from successfully growing, whilst taking responsibility and engaging with customers helps to build trust and reputability – both of which characteristics are essential when it comes to garnering sales.

Consider outsourcing

As you upscale, the demands of the business will require more employees. Only the biggest and most successful businesses can have the luxury of employing entirely in-house teams though. Analyse which roles are non-essential and outsource these. The chances are that you won’t need to employ people full-time for certain aspects of your business. Many small companies outsource to…

  • Website developers and designers
  • SEO and content marketing agencies
  • eCommerce management software providers
  • Accounting and financial services firms
  • HR and recruitment companies

Being flexible with freelancers and external agencies will help you to focus on the essential workings of your business and concentrate on what you’re good at.

Thinking ahead to the future growth and success of your startup is vital when it comes to smoothly upscaling. Considering your marketing strategies and workforce beforehand will help you to take new business challenges in your stride.

Gemma Tomlinson is the marketing manager of Exact Abacus.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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