How to Scale a Business: Timing and Best Practices

Contributed content / By Tania Ilutsa / 24 March 2021

To understand how to scale a company and ensure continued success, businesses should reflect on their broader business health and recognize best practices and mistakes to avoid.  

As a business, you always want to improve your performance and find paths to growth and continued success. 

Most companies, though, definitely don’t have enough money to double their team to take on more projects, conduct more outreach, or execute on more product improvements. 

So, what’s next? Searching for investors? Well, if you really want to, of course, you can. But, there is a more efficient way — scale your business!

Scaling is not the same as growing: Business growth tactics target success by investing more money while scaling is about increasing the productivity of your business without spending extra. 

Use this article to identify: 

  • When the best time to scale your business
  • How to scale your business
  • Best practices during the scaling process

When is the Best Time to Scale Your Business? 

You know your business as no one else does, so only you can know when the day has come, so you’d better plan it ahead. 

To get a good pulse on whether your business is primed to scale, use the following business health signals: 

  • Predictable revenues: The more financially stable you are, the lower the risk of unsuccessful scaling is. If you are confident that your business can achieve a baseline revenue quarter-to-quarter, you have a good foundation to scale your business. 
  • Diverse sources of income: If your income is distributed across multiple accounts, especially long-term clients or relationships, you have more risk tolerance to scale your business. 
  • High demand for your services/products: Demand is a wonderful thing, but you need to be able to deliver to continue to grow your business. If you are reaching a point where demand is higher than your ability to deliver, it's a solid signal you need to consider how to better scale your processes. 

When Is a Bad Time to Scale Your Business? 

Other business health signals can help you identify that your company is not ready to scale: 

  • Inability to achieve long-term goals: If you are struggling to reach business goals, there may be underlying factors such as employee bandwidth to address before scaling. 
  • Stressed-out team: When your team is close to a nervous breakdown because of all the routine work, that has to be done, (especially if these are repeatable processes) don’t even try to scale the business. Better, hire someone to offload the workflow.

What are Best Practices for Scaling Your Business 

Scaling your business is a complex process, but the basics for preparing and identifying scaling opportunities can break down into a few, relatively simple steps. 

Review Business Processes to Optimize Workflow

Scaling takes time. Start by documenting all the processes happening in your team:

  • What are your main challenges?
  • What are your key successes?
  • What is the state of the process workflow?
  • Which tasks are the most time-consuming? 

After reviewing each, analyze which business processes need support, which ones require small modifications, and which ones are simply outdated and need to be replaced. 

Try to automate all the routine tasks not to waste your employees’ energy on them. If you don’t know how to do it, you can always hire a freelancer to help you out at least at the beginning.

Identify and Leverage Your Team's Strengths 

A clear understanding of your business strengths can really help you scale. 

For example, if you are a lead generation agency, for instance, and your team is awesome at SEO and writing content, but terrible with cold emailing and targeted online ads, maybe you should stop doing outbound marketing at all and focus mainly on inbound. 

This way, you might actually get more clients on what you are good at and thus receive more positive feedback from them.

Grow Your Team to Support Scaling Process

If your client base grows, you’ll feel that the team can’t keep up with the workflow anymore. You’ll need to hire more people.

If you are not sure you require a full-time position for any tasks you need to cover, consider staff augmentation firms for immediate support. 

Keeping with the example of a lead generation agency, you’ll probably not need a full-time developer to solve some bugs in the CRM. More likely, you’ll even profit from hiring a freelance developer instead of an in-house team, if you do it smart

Mistakes to Avoid While Scaling

Scaling your business means rethinking your conventional approach to your work. When you take on a scaling process, it's important to define boundaries and stick to a few principles to see the process through: 

Clinging to Old Processes

If you are making a marked shift away from your legacy processes, do it completely. Your legacy operations brought you to where your business currently is, but to continue to succeed, fully invest in your newly scaled processes. 

Working for Free

We all know how it feels if you have to do something for free. There certainly can be customer service benefits, but make sure your team doesn't feel obligated 

Even the most loyal clients can change their behavior towards an unfavorable one in a very short timing if you do a bad job even once.

Overloading Your Team With Projects

Do not chase projects that you cannot execute on. Be judicious with projects you take on to make sure you can complete all of your work at quality standards and with efficiency. 

Recognize Objectives and Limits to Understand How to Scale a Business 

Scaling your business helps drive continued success for your business. To successfully scale your company, research when the best time to scale, best practices when scaling, and key mistakes to avoid during the process.
 

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