Businesses have to grow in order to survive and thrive, but it doesn't happen overnight. It requires a lot of deliberate growth if the business wants to continue expanding.
If you want to scale up successfully, you need to go in with a plan. You need more than a good idea, you need a business that works. Getting your business to be scalable requires strong leadership.
You want to make sure that you have everything in place to lead your business to success. These 5 tips are some of the most important things you can do before undertaking a scale up. Consider all of them when writing your strategy and you’ll establish a strong foundation to scale up successfully.
Before you try and write any strategy, you need to define your business growth goals. You’ve decided to scale up for a reason; what was it? You know what you want, but if you’re going to write a strong strategy, you need to use actionable goals.
Growth is measurable so it’s easy to make your mission a hard business goal. A business plan that’s motivated by something vague, like “be the best,” is going to end up weak. A mission with a target that you can measure is a much more useful planning framework.
With a strong goal to work towards, you can create a business plan that contains meaningful objectives to work towards. Using this free toolkit for a strategy analysis, you can turn your mission into actionable tactics so that people leave your planning meeting with something to actually do.
It’s never a bad idea to understand more. Conducting research into your customers gives your marketing efforts a far greater chance of success. Likewise, conducting research into your industry can help you stay ahead of your competition.
Good marketing comes from understanding how your customers think. Knowing their needs and pain points allows you to speak to them on a much more personal level. If someone feels more valued and involved, they’ll be inclined to buy from you.
Business is constantly evolving and new developments will appear in your industry all the time. Staying abreast of your industry means you can adapt and take new ideas on board as they’re coming. Staying one step ahead of your competition keeps you standing out to the consumer.
No one person can run a scale-up business alone. The team backing you is crucial to your business’s success. Your Board of Directors should complement your skills and bring a variety of experience to your business’s leadership.
Consider your business background and what you know best. You want to make sure that your Board covers those parts that you don’t. If you’re great with understanding organisations and how money moves but not as confident with actually selling your product, consider prioritising Marketing and Sales Directors.
This is the hard part. When scaling up your business, you need to be honest with yourself about your role in it. Many choose to take a role as an Executive Director and leave the position of CEO to someone who fits it better.
If you’re not certain that CEO is the job for you, it shows strength of character to hand your creation to another. Many entrepreneurs also make great scale-up business leaders, but taking a job that better suits your skills is always an option.
As strange as it may seem, the end goal is to build a Board of Directors that doesn’t need you on it. A business that’s too reliant on its founder will find it harder to secure investment and will be valued lower for sales. If your team wouldn’t be able to handle you deciding to go on holiday for a week, it may need more work.
Scaling up comes from making big changes to your business. It’s normal to seek investment to fund these changes. Plan out what investment you want as part of your growth strategy.
Series A funding is the most common route for businesses when scaling up. It’s important to be as prepared as possible so you don’t waste time with a VC that wouldn’t have accepted you. Getting a Finance Director is often part of investment preparations, as they’re able to lead you getting everything ready
Every investor is looking for slightly different things, so do your research and pick one that matches you. One thing they’re all agreed on is wanting to see preparation. Make sure you have everything ready before making your pitch.
Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is a successful business. Scaling up is a period of rapid growth, but it still takes time. Don’t rush in before you’re ready and take the time to do it right.
If you have to wait a little longer to start scaling up so you can find the right campaign to launch your product or set up that new system in your factory, then do so. Being patient means your business has the time to find its footing and is less liable to set backs.
Rushing in can leave parts of your business behind. There’s no point trying to grow parts of your business if there’s still a bottleneck at a crucial stage. After all, being better at making sales doesn’t matter much if you have nothing more to sell.
Not everything will work out as you planned, so don’t be afraid to fail. Being resilient in the face of failures is necessary to stop them becoming fatal to the business. Many crises offer up opportunities, and keeping a level head will give you the chance to spot them.
Take these tips onboard and you’ll be on your way to growing a successful scale-up business. However, it is important to remember that growing a business is not a quick or easy process, and it will take hard work and dedication to achieve results.
If you are willing to put in the time and effort, though, these tips can help you reach your goals.
If you think you’re ready to take the leap and scale-up, then you’ll likely want to find your funding next. Boardroom Advisors’ guide to getting Investor Ready tells you everything you need to know to impress the investors.
John Courtney is Founder and Chief Executive of BoardroomAdvisors.co which provides part-time Executive Directors (Commercial/Operations/Managing Directors), Non-Executive Directors and paid Mentors to SMEs without either a recruitment fee or a long term contract.
John is a serial entrepreneur, having founded 7 different businesses over a 40 year period, including a digital marketing agency, corporate finance and management consultancy. He has trained and worked as a strategy consultant, raised funding through Angels, VCs and crowd funding, and exited businesses via MBO, MBI and trade sale. He has been ranked #30 in CityAM’s list of UK Entrepreneurs.
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