As we find ourselves at the crossroads of a potentially year-long recession, a cost-of-living crisis and rising energy costs, just how to scale a business quickly is on the minds of many founders.
What does scaling a business mean?
Scaling a business is the next stage of business growth and putting the foundations in place to do that.
It is also defined by revenue increasing at a faster rate than costs.
The technical definition of a scale-up is a business that’s over three years old and has been showing growth of 20 per cent or more in either turnover or employment over those three years and already has at least 10 employees.
>See also: What scaleups have in common
How do you know when your business or product is ready to be scaled?
If you have the infrastructure, goals for the company have been achieved and you have reliable, repeating sales, you can think about scaling your business.
In the case of scaling a digital product, moving onto scaling follows a period of prototyping, experimentation, and customer feedback.
“Generating feedback in the initial stages of design is invaluable,” Ritam Gandhi, founder and director of Studio Graphene says. “Yet this step is often overlooked. Many start-ups prefer to wait until they think the product is just how they want – but getting it into the hands of users early is typically better than keeping everything under wraps.”
Analysing this user feedback and insights captured via analytics can help validate your concept and provide valuable insights to improve user experience, he adds.
“Embracing agile development is an effective way of achieving this – this is when the testing process runs constantly throughout the product cycle. It’s flexible and means teams are adaptive and open to changes of direction as required based on user feedback.
“Successfully implementing this process will enable developers to achieve a product fit for market that offers genuine value and great functionality to users. And it is from here, when those boxes are ticked, that your product is ready to be scaled.”
6 ways to scale your business quickly
Here are six tips if you want to scale your business or product quickly.
#1 – Set goals
It’s important you don’t just go looking for quick wins, as that might have an immediate impact on your business but is not sustainable, he advises.
“We’d advise you to plan suitable SMART goals over a longer time period but break them down into shorter-term activities that constantly move you towards your goals. They don’t have to be massive leaps each time either, they can be small steps that support you in your longer-term goals of moving towards the business you want it to be.
“This will give you a consistent approach to scaling your business instead of a scattergun approach of trying to do too much, too soon and overwhelming you and your team.”
#2 – Build good leadership and team motivation
To scale quickly, you need the help of a team that is just as motivated as you are. Make sure your goals inspire and motivate your team on your business growth journey.
“If you haven’t got your team on board with your goals, you’ll never scale the business at your chosen rate,” Halford says.
“They are the vital cog in your business machine to get it churning out the results you desire, make sure they are involved in the goals at every stage (from setting to executing) and reward those that go the extra mile to encourage growth across the business; make their personal growth part of the scaling of the business – their development should be seen as just as important as any bottom-line increases.”
#3 – Measured and considered planning stage
To scale short-term, you must think long-term.
Ensure your product has been tested thoroughly and do your research. Then draw up a measured and considered plan. “It’s the old cliché of trying to build on poor foundations – it’s a recipe for disaster,” Halford says.
“The issue for most businesses comes in implementing the correct process. Many will launch into planning and design with the best of intentions – often with quite rigid structured planning that fails to consider some critical elements that could make or break the efficacy of their latest iteration or product.”
#4 – Be flexible
It’s key to prioritise the most important features required to scale the product. Keep tabs on progress made, and perhaps more importantly, have the flexibility to manoeuvre challenges encountered along the way.
This is particularly important in the chase for new customers. You can’t get complacent about your current offering. After all, you gained customers because of quality of service or product – don’t expect it to be any different in the search for new customers.
#5 – Secure strong positioning
The stronger your identity in a market, the bigger chances of success. If you’ve found a niche and you have the best offering in that niche, you can expect quick growth.
Create a community around your product. Having a loyal community using your product can not only save on marketing costs, it can improve trust.
By engaging with this community, you can gain testimonials, quotes for social media, case studies or user stories, word of mouth enquiries and more genuine marketing material based on their experiences with you. You can also use this community to build or strengthen your customer personas.
#6 – Use automation
If you’re experiencing fast growth, the last thing you want is your service to suffer as current employees get overloaded. By using AI to automate the labour-intensive and time-consuming tasks, you can keep your team’s energy on improving the product or service.
By implementing automation across all departments, including marketing, sales, admin and customer relationship management (CRM), you have a better chance of scaling a lot quicker.