Let’s talk about scaling your business. We’re not talking about growth – that’s different. Scaling is about amplifying your offerings and revenue without really investing in more direct resources. But more on that later.
For now, you know your success in business relies on your ability to offer a quality solution or provide a core offering to a demanding audience. And today, we’ll share trending insights about how leaders are transforming and redefining their strategies in a way that allows for scaling, not just growth.
Understanding the Differences Between Growing and Scaling
Generally speaking, when you think of business growth, you think of linear growth. Business growth usually requires additional capital, technology, people, or resources. And with those investments, you expect the bottom-line revenue to grow. Scaling is a different form of growth, however.
Scaling is a rapid increase in profits at a faster rate than rising costs. Growth implies an increase in profits as they directly relate to an increase in resources or costs.
Scaling involves increasing your company revenue without linearly investing in additional resources. In fact, business scaling can allow you to increase revenue while minimizing costs. Where growth is more about the size of the business resources, scaling is about the value proposition and boosting results with little to no changes in core resources.
Here’s an apples-to-apples look at scaling versus growth:
- Growth – Focuses on the company
- Scaling – Focuses on the revenue and earning potential
- Growth – Revenue and resource increase together
- Scaling – Revenue grows faster than incurred costs or used resources
- Growth – Is a linear transformation
- Scaling – Is an exponential transformation
- Growth – Aspires to attain a goal or singular end result
- Scaling – Capability to exercise all goals and results together
Different Types of Business Scaling
To help you better understand the methods and strategies for business scaling, consider the different types of scaling efforts.
- Bootstrapping – this type prioritizes organic growth through internal means.
- Slow Scaling – this type uses external financing to supplement growth.
- Fast Scaling – this type of scaling usually involves venture capital and viral growth.
- Blitzscaling – this is Zuckerberg’s “move fast and break things” approach to leverage new techniques for lightning-fast growth.
In addition to the four types of business scaling, there are four directions to direct that company growth.
- Scaling Up – upscale existing strategies
- Scaling Deep – strategically upscale with internal mindset shifts.
- Scaling Out – making your impact and offering transferable.
- Scaling Down – grow your impact by cutting back on nonessentials.
The 5 R’s of Scaling
When you’re ready to put your business scaling ideas to task, create a checklist. And for many of today’s leaders, scaling success is achievable when you vet your ideas through the lens of the five Rs.
Readiness – Evaluate how ready your teams, customers, and arsenal of resources are to facilitate your ideas.
Resources – Determine if your scaling ideas require additional resources, like customer service channels, internal staff, or technology enhancements.
Receptivity – Make sure you have the market research data to support your scaling strategy and business-boosting ideas.
Risks – Assess every risk associated with your ideas for business scaling.
Returns – Outline the intended and projected returns, worst and best-case scenarios to set ROI goals.
Don’t attempt to initiate business scaling strategies until you’re comfortable with each of these points. Doing so prematurely will only result in additional challenges, increased risks, and more costs.
How to Scale in 2023
Once you and your leadership teams have a deeper understanding of the concepts needed to scale your business, you’re ready for the fun part. Now, you can start exploring the to-do lists and execution strategies to bring those business scaling ideas to life.
Center Everything On Your Company Offerings
The first priority with any scaling effort is centralizing and building on your company’s core offerings. Now’s the time to really analyze your data and sales metrics to identify which product or service is the most lucrative. A scaling strategy requires leading with this “best foot” forward. And organizations that focus their efforts on a specific offering (instead of casting a wider net to try and scoop up every possible purchase) will scale substantially faster. Consider these steps to apply pinpoint precision to your core offerings:
- Recognize and fully understand your lead offering’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Find and own your niche – then scale.
- Know your competition inside and out.
- Target your core audience’s primary pain point.
- Learn your existing customers’ preferences and purchasing behaviors.
- Create messaging and solutions to those specific customer needs.
Start with Revamping Your Strategies
Start by reviewing your current methods and strategies for sales, customer service, product development, distribution, and marketing. All of these current strategies might need revamping to adjust to your scaling goals. For example, you might need to revise a sales strategy to include additional markets or promotion of additional products and services. Your customer service channels might need improvement to accommodate a growing customer base and need for support. And any current marketing strategies might need adjusting to reach new target markets.
Invest in All the Latest Technology
Companies that don’t continuously evolve and adopt emerging technologies will soon find themselves behind the competitors who do. Today’s technology, from data management to CRMs, can streamline time, money, and resources. And all of those assets are essential to facilitating your business scaling plan. Explore some of these more common automation solutions:
- Project Management Software
- Appointment Scheduling Software
- Employee Onboarding Software
- Accounting or Payroll Processing Software
- Sales Management or Funnel Management Software
- Chatbots or AI Customer Service Solutions
Anywhere that you have an opportunity to automate to save time and money is a must-take opportunity before initiating any business scaling.
Be prepared to augment your staff and teams with any business scaling plan. This kind of amplified growth usually translates to a need for more sales professionals, customer service teams, and production workers. And with those staff increases comes a boosted need for human resources and internal training. Today’s companies are onboarding new staff with remote or hybrid capabilities, too, to eliminate expenses associated with office space.
Elevate Your Processes
Talk with each of your departments about their current processes and procedures. When scaling your business model, you’re likely going to need to make adjustments to various policies and procedures to accommodate the influx of new business. And your frontline managers and teams can help you itemize the most efficient and effective methods for moving forward.
Outsource and Get Help
Scaling often requires additional insights and services. Don’t be afraid to outsource certain aspects of your business or bring in experts who can help. Small businesses, for example, might outsource payroll and HR functions during a scaling phase, with plans to bring those services back in-house once revenue levels can support doing so. Many companies also lean on outsourced marketing partners for proven results in advertising, content marketing, and product launch efforts.
Diversification Is Key
One of the pivotal strategies for business scaling involves diversification. Look for ways you can boost revenues with one of three basic diversification strategies:
- Concentric Diversification – This is growth by adding similar products or elements of services to an existing line.
- Horizontal Diversification – This is growth by introducing new products or unrelated services to the existing line.
- Conglomerate Diversification – This is growth by acquisition.
Be specific about your growth direction and strategy, identifying the necessary business support and components needed to facilitate growth. And always be open to more passive revenue streams, including subscriptions or monthly service contracts, that can significantly boost revenue without exhausting resources.
Invest in Leadership and Management Development
With all the strategy, process, and marketing changes you’ll be making to prepare your company for scaling, you’re going to need to develop your internal managers and leaders for new dynamics. Mid-level management is responsible for motivating your teams and engaging your customers. So, it’s imperative that they be on the same page about company and team goals. Make sure they have all the training, tools, and resources available so they can be effective in their new management capacity. Skills your managers and leaders should prepare to sharpen include:
- Change Management
- Time Management
- Critical Thinking Skills
- Problem-Solving Skills
- Strategic Planning
Scalable Business Examples
You might be able to scale various segments of your business in stages. Typically, the following examples of business offerings or resources have great scaling potential. Consider testing your scaling strategy with these easy-to-boost elements of your business first. If you can’t scale within these segments, you’re not ready to scale your enterprise just yet. And starting small can allow you to spot challenges to address before taking your scaling efforts companywide.
- eCommerce platforms
- Company blogs
- Affiliate marketing efforts
- App development
- Podcasts or video content strategies
- Email marketing campaigns
- Online courses or downloadable assets
Business Scaling Mistakes to Avoid
When you’re executing plans for business scaling, be sure to avoid these common pitfalls and mistakes. These tend to be the most prevalent mistakes business owners make that end up backfiring and often costing valuable revenue and leading to missed opportunities for growth.
- Avoid scaling too fast.
- Don’t prioritize short-term goals over long-term goals.
- Avoid losing focus on the scaling plan to chase other opportunities.
- Don’t hire teams based on quantity over quality.
- Avoid trying to scale without the systems and processes needed to facilitate your ideas.
- Don’t forget that agility in scaling is key to success, so be ready to adapt.
Don’t Think About Scaling Without a Strong Brand
All of these insights and business scaling best practices won’t move the needle unless and until your company has a strong and well-defined brand. If you’re the slightest bit inconsistent with your brand style, purpose, or voice, your marketing isn’t going to be as effective. And a weak marketing impact will shutter any potential scaling. So, be honest about your current brand positioning and reputation. You can tap into these steps for building a falter-proof brand and foundation for scaling your business.
Brand Positioning – This statement describes what your company does, your unique value proposition, and your perfect-fit audience. It’s a definition that should grow with you as you scale.
Brand Promise – This sentiment describes what people should expect every time they encounter your brand or do business with you. If you can’t deliver on your brand promise in scaling, you’ll need to redefine your brand.
Brand Personality – This sentiment is the personality you want others to associate with your brand, company, and offerings. Imagine your company with human characteristics and use those voices and styles consistently throughout your messaging and marketing.
Brand Story – This story describes your brand history and establishes credibility. It’s a brief statement that captures the essence of your “why” and inspires others to support your growth efforts.
Brand Association – This is a collection of physical attributes for your brand, like the logo, tagline, or imagery. Here’s where you’ll define guidelines for font, colors, and visuals you’ll continue to use as you scale.
Not sure how strong your brand is? Consider putting it through a few tests and measurements. Use your existing brand metrics to evaluate your brand’s strength and see how well it…
- Is specialized to a niche
- Leads in the industry
- Has personality
- Is distinctive
- Is visible
- Is positive
- Exudes persistence
- Extends goodwill
Scaling your business means making all the necessary changes and setting the stage for all elements to support the growth of your company. Get planning, secure any needed funding, implement the best-fit systems, hire the right people, adopt the right processes, and work with the best partners.
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