Getting a startup off the ground is anything but easy. You’ve already done that, though. Now, you’re thinking of taking things to the next level and want to create the right game plan to get you there.
But where to start?
- Create and/or offer more products for the marketplace to choose from?
- Hire more sales staff to go out and drum up more business?
- Hire more employees in general to push out more product and/or take a portion of the workload off other employees (and you).
The answer is likely all the above for some of you; perhaps just one or two for the rest. Of course, there are countless other initiatives that can be put in place to grow your business.
Welcome to the most exciting time in your business’s life – growth time baby!
Why It’s Time to Start Scaling Soon
You don’t have to start right this minute, but you do have to get started soon. Scaling doesn’t imply drastic moves be made instantly and devil may care. Rather, you need to be as growth-oriented as you can today, so that the competition doesn’t completely crush you tomorrow.
Slow and deliberate is the name of the game. Every time you see an opening, it’s imperative you seize the moment.
Say that several customers are asking for an add-on to the service you offer; an add-on that could make for a significant upsell opportunity to those asking and all future customers who come after them. You’d be crazy not to do everything in your power to make this happen – it’s practically found money that required no mental resources to come up with on your part.
The Trouble Faced by Those Who’re Unwilling
You can be a small little mom’n pop operation all you want. Maybe a decent salary is all you’re looking for in your entrepreneurial life? The trouble is, someone will always be thinking bigger – and they’ll soon find their way down the street or swoop in and out-market you online and steal your web customers. Whatever business you’re in, someone will always be there to take what’s yours if your the small guy in the space.
“Go big or go home” isn’t just some silly saying when it comes to business. It really is the only way to ensure a sustainable business. It doesn’t matter if you’re the first convenience store in a small town or the head of a tech startup with exciting new and innovative products. Everyone faces the threat of competition, and the risk of losing marketshare due to lack of demand in a particular product or service – no matter how popular they were when they first came out.
Look at the thriving TV repair businesses of the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. There was one on every corner and they were all busy. Little overhead was needed more than a storefront and work area. People brought their televisions to them in droves and there was no need to grow beyond that, right?
Well, those who grew bigger and were smart enough to shift their focus from strictly televisions, into other electronics like stereos, appliances, and later smartphones, iPods and other smart technology, found they still had a thriving business. Those who didn’t, didn’t.
Then there’s simply the issue of word getting around about you, having orders that could take you to the big time coming in (cementing a future for your family), and having you, the entrepreneur, not being willing to put in the effort to get your business there.
Even if it means you can retire early and/or live off an almost entirely passive income? What about growing the business and then selling when it’s big enough, taking that money and doing whatever it is you’ve always dreamed of?
The Business-Scaling Checklist
The strategy part is what most business owners get hung up on. There’s so many variables that can easily be overlooked when it comes time to plan and execute your next-stage growth plan:
- Make sure you’re prepared for the big jumps in traffic to your website – whether you’re largely online or off, you need to be able to handle searches, orders, and inquiries over the Internet these days to compete.
- Pertaining somewhat to the above point – what’s your current ordering system and is it flawless so nobody’s clicking off the phone, or leaving your site due to the frustration of waiting, being put on hold, etc., etc.?
- Establish your current turnaround time for products/services – are you equipped to handle more than this, or do you need to hire more staff, contact new suppliers, work with more subcontractors, etc.?
- What’s your current training plan for new hires look like – is your training phase streamlined and efficient so you can get them making you money quickly?
- Look to mistakes you’ve made when you’re rushed and overworked in the past – how can these be avoided once things start to really hum?
- What equipment is missing from your business that’s needed in the new plan? (ie., phones, PCs, fax machines, desks/chairs, company cars, industrial machines, etc.)
If you don’t have an answer to these questions, consider them the first phase of your scaling plan. If you don’t have the budget for what’s needed, getting that money will be the second step – even if that means pushing back growth while you save money and cut expenses to put the plan into action.
There’s no way it will ever be easy to scale a business. It probably won’t be cheap in the long run either (unless you’re in an incredibly-niche vertical with high margins). It’s going to require more time spent working on the business, even though you might have thought those 80-hour weeks during startup were the worst time ever.
Still, as you’ve learned, you need to go big as quickly as you can or someone else will soon swoop in and take what you’ve worked so hard to build up til now.
Time to start growing. Good luck!