Business growth is cause for celebration, but it’s also no time to get complacent. While it may be safe to assume that sales are doing well and customers are happy this is also the time to turn your attention to the next challenge – how to scale the business, writes Jason Toshack, General Manager ANZ at Oracle NetSuite.
This could come in many forms, such as international expansion, franchising, opening new stores or expanding e-commerce channels. Scaling is an exciting part of the business journey, but it can quickly become a challenge if not managed appropriately. A key part of this is ensuring you have the correct procedures and tools in place to enable and support you as you scale.
Operating a growing business means more than simply selling more. It requires meticulous planning, budgeting and the right technology, underpinned by a strong team, to keep business continuity even in times of uncertainty.
Here are four critical steps to be mindful of when scaling your business
1. Have a plan, a backup plan and another plan after that
Scalability is about capacity and capability. Before you even take the first step, you will need to have a long, hard look at your business and how it operates. Ask yourself, does my business have the capacity to grow? Will my business systems, infrastructure and team be able to support new growth, the increased workload that come with it and the processes required to cope with this change? To effectively plan for the future, you will need to know your current state and get ready for future demands.
Having a concrete business plan for profitable growth is key. Thorough planning enables you to look at all factors that can impact growing and scaling the business. Research shows that having a formal business plan enables a 30 per cent greater chance of growth.
Some ideas of what to include in your plan are:
- An executive summary: A top-level view of your business and aspirations.
- Overview of your business and the markets you serve or plan to serve.
- Tell your business story, by outlining the history, the vision, roles of the executive leadership team, and culture.
- Market and competitor analysis – Assess the market conditions and where you fit in. What are your competitors doing right or wrong and how do you compete? How can you be better?
- Financial plan and projections: Give an honest view of your current financial state and realistic projections for the future.
Include everything that can ‘make or break’ your business and make sure to do your homework – there’s no such thing as being over-prepared.
2. Budget wisely to fuel your growth
Scaling a business seldom comes without cost. Your growth strategy might require new hires, investment in new tools and tech or even larger facilities. The Australian Government has some initiatives to support budding entrepreneurs like the Growth Grant. Businesses can use the grant to ‘improve the ability and skills of their business, such as by engaging external experts to help implement recommendations from the business’s roadmap or plan.’
From investments to operational costs, keeping to a budget is crucial when scaling your business. It is always a good idea for a scaling business to have some savings set aside to support them through unforeseen challenges. Make sure spend is justified and keeping your team informed of the finances may help to reduce costs.
3. Find the right people to sustain momentum\
Without buy-in from the team, scaling a business can be a challenge. It is no surprise then that growth-minded companies place tremendous trust and confidence in their people. This frees the headspace of founders and entrepreneurs, allowing them to focus on innovation to help drive the business forward. This also means that successful businesses are mindful when hiring new team members and view recruitment as an investment in the future.
Business leaders understand how important it is to hire individuals who aren’t just proficient and skilful but can also align with the organisation’s core values.
As they grow, businesses often realise that they need to streamline the hiring processes by setting out the ‘must have’ qualities in a new hire through a solid screening process in place. Interviewers will have the right data to vet, match and evaluate potential employees. Doing so also allows the business to retain quality candidates that add value and bring the right skills to the business.
4. Select the right tools for the job
Having the right processes in place from the start has given most successful businesses greater agility and flexibility, as their employees can quickly obtain data for immediate decision making. A recent study by Frost & Sullivan and Oracle NetSuite which surveyed more than 500 entrepreneurs across Australia, New Zealand and six Asia-Pacific markets, identified that over half of Aussie entrepreneurs that were surveyed regard their core business software as important to the success of their business.
For example, when used strategically, automation can help you run your business more efficiently and at a lower cost. This frees up your employees’ time to focus on more rewarding and higher-value tasks. When looking for the right tools, identify a solution that is right for your business today and will be able to support the business as it expands and your needs change.
Business growth is more than just being profitable. More than ever, factors like planning, people and processes come into play. With the right mindset, and the right systems, tools and team, businesses will be able to pave the way to sustainable growth. Having tried and tested processes in place also allows businesses to better dictate their growth on their terms.
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