What you need to know about scaling and growth for SMEs
When you’re running a small business, you can often feel like you’re maintaining a difficult balancing act between staying inside your comfort zone and pursuing the growth you need to fulfil your dreams. It’s a tricky balance, absolutely – but one that can be found, if you structure your business accordingly. Here’s Nancy Youssef’s take on what you need to know about scaling and growing your small business…
Get outsourcing – now
You should be spending the majority of your time focusing on high-value tasks that give you a good return on hours spent. By assigning lower-value tasks to employees or contractors, you’re freeing up more of your working hours, which enables you to take on more high-value work or grow the business in other ways, such as networking.
If you’re not ready to hire permanent employees, a good way to dip your feet in the scaling pool is to start with contractors. This way, you’re not committed to long-term employment contracts, PAYG tax and all the other administrative headaches that can come with putting on staff, but you still get to outsource some of your tasks and see how scaling the business could work for you.
Strategise your next 90 days
Getting clear, actionable goals down on paper is so important, but you need to do it in a way that propels you forward, rather than giving yourself an enormous unachievable mountain to climb.
A great way to do this is reverse engineering: break goals down into smaller chunks that you’ll be able to tick off and gain a sense of accomplishment. By focusing on what you hope to achieve in the next thirty, sixty or ninety days, it’s also easier to see what isn’t working, giving you the opportunity to swap it out for a better strategy as soon as possible. This will help keep you on track when those three or five-year plans seem so far away.
Create a supportive culture
An important thing to consider when branching out and adding to your team of one is the importance of creating a good company culture. This helps to grow your business by attracting the right people with the right values, so you can grow in the direction you want. And when people are happy, they’re generally more productive, which means there’s a more effective and efficient workforce for you to depend on.
When it comes to scaling and growing your small business, it’s not just about the people. You also need to have appropriate systems in place to keep everything streamlined and seamless – there’s no room for over-complicating things here! That means automating your systems, processes and documentation as much as possible, reducing costly labour hours and human errors that can cost loads of time and money to fix.
Manage ‘money stuff’
You also need to have a firm understanding of the financial health of your business, whether it’s working with your CFO or accountant, or finding a great bookkeeper. Forecasting is key here, because it enables you to predict financial challenges, hurdles or downturns coming up and plan accordingly.
Make sure you’re well equipped with understanding around what financial products are out there, in case you need a capital injection. You should have access to your financial reserves, an overdraft, or something else you can lean on that won’t suffocate your business, but instead give you the financial oxygen to keep breathing so you can stay on your goals and keep growing.
Another key priority is protecting your business (and yourself) with appropriate and adequate insurance cover. This is not an area you should be scrimping on – I could tell you so many stories of businesses going bust because they haven’t taken insurance and compliance seriously.
Seek solid advice
From legal eagles to awesome mentors, I can’t stress enough how important it is to surround yourself with the best and brightest brains in your industry. I’m a big believer in the power of mentoring relationships, and I’ve personally mentored countless brokers, so I know it’s rewarding both for the mentor and the mentee.
Every industry and business is different, so the growth process will be different, but ultimately it all starts with a vision and a purpose, and relies on staying true to your why – why did you get into business in the first place, what are you trying to achieve?
It’s so important not to lose sight of that along the way, as you’re juggling all the balls and feeling dizzy from all the new ideas spinning around in your head. If you can hold onto that original desire and belief, the thing that drives you to get out of bed every day and keep working towards your goals, then you’re already halfway there.