The decision to scale your small business can be one of the most exciting, yet delicate, moments on your entrepreneurial journey. It’s a decision that many entrepreneurs face at some stage, especially if they’ve seen their customer base or revenue increase. While these are two of the important foundations business owners require as they determine if and when the time is right, there are a host of considerations to be aware of – especially today, under the cloud of the ‘new-normal’ uncertainty, writes Suzanne Mitchell, Senior Director of Marketing at GoDaddy Australia.
Is scaling your business feasible?
From hiring employees to bringing out a new product range or targeting new demographics or markets, scaling up can take many forms. Before putting the resources and energy into preparing and actioning a growth strategy, though, take the time to understand your business’ current foundations. Start by looking at your current business model. Is it healthy financially? Is the demand there to warrant growth? Are there any obstacles in terms of, for example, uncertain economic conditions or competitor activity? Next, consider your workload and if you might be missing out by not scaling up. For example, if you’re regularly turning down new clients, finding your products are often out-of-stock or simply can’t keep up with demand for your services, it might be worth considering scaling up.
Evaluate your goals with an objective lens to ensure there aren’t other factors at play, such as seasonal demand. For instance, if you’re a personal trainer and experienced a lockdown-induced boom in people looking for online, at-home training programs, evaluate whether demand will be the same in 2021 with Australia out of lockdown and gyms reopen. Being aspirational and determined is important, but so too is honesty. You may want to seek out the guidance and advice of a mentor or experienced friend or family member who can provide an unbiased and external perspective of your opportunity. If you have doubts about the feasibility or timing – no matter how small – there’s nothing to stop you reassessing again in, say, six months. After all, if you rush into a decision that you’re not 100% about, you could lose out in the long-term, especially if you invest in people and product that you later can’t afford. If you’re comfortable that you have a solid foundation to scale and believe there may be long-term demand for what you do, then you might want to think about your growth strategy.
Sustainable growth strategies
Once you have evaluated your business’ current position, and have determined that scaling-up is feasible and in your business’ best interests, dedicate some time to preparing a growth strategy that will be sustainable in the long-term. This strategy should be built on solid foundations, and be both achievable and sensible, so take the time to consider everything from your existing business structure and offerings, to the current economic climate and consumer behaviours. With a solid plan in place, spend time outlining how you’re going to scale up your business. Evaluate what is and isn’t working, decide which areas to scale first, and how you’re going to get there – whether that be hiring more people, investing in new technology or introducing new products or distribution channels.
If one of your growth plans is to introduce new products or distribution channels, for example, consider how technology can assist. Bricks-and-mortar businesses are important parts of local communities, but the growth of eCommerce in Australia is strong evidence of the crucial role an online presence can play for businesses looking to grow and engage with those beyond their local community. Tools like, for example, GoDaddy Websites + Marketing can help you build not only a professional website, but one that works just as hard for your business as you do. Remember, though, sustainability is key, so think about how to communicate necessary changes with customers and provide any staff with any additional training they’ll require.
Make it happen, and measure its success
Running a business, particularly one that’s scaling, requires regular analysis and refinement. As industries and consumer demand changes, often rapidly, it’s important to think constructively and critically and ensure your business and the way it operates reflects the needs and desires of your customers. Whether you run an online business or an omnichannel operation that ties together both online and offline channels, measuring success is crucial in today’s digital age. For example, through data-driven insights and advice, you can easily measure and analyse your online operations and determine what’s working, what isn’t and if and when it’s time to refine your scaling strategy.
Scaling your business can be a delicate process, but one with the potential – if approached sensibly – to deliver outstanding results in the long-run. Taking the time to evaluate, plan and put digital systems in place could help your business scale in a way that is effective, sustainable and rewarding.
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