Tips on how to successfully scale a business—from 4 real-life companies

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Tips on How to Scale Your Business From Successful Entrepreneurs

The difference between a small business or startup and a successful and profitable company typically boils down to time and experience. But, there are certain factors that play a big part in how those companies grew to be successful — things like timing, having the right people, focus, and intensely hard work.

Even though statistics, researchers, and the media tell you that the odds are stacked against you and the probability of failing is high, there are plenty of opportunities to succeed. One of the best ways to steel yourself against the hard times and tough decisions is to look at successful entrepreneurs and CEOs who have already blazed those trails.

They’ve learned the hard lessons and are willing to share knowledge that you can apply to fuel sustainable growth. Here are some insights from a few of them who learned how to overcome the odds and successfully scale their businesses.

Keep Processes as Simple as Possible

Successful business leaders are often so because they learn how to be good at simplifying things. They take the complex and make it less complex. This philosophy and approach to business is used in everything from product launches to developing workflows.

Complexity sucks time. It requires more meetings, more explanation, more refined communication with the customer, more people in the workflow, and more cogs in the machine. Complexity slows businesses down and inhibits growth.

“As businesses grow and scale, the key dynamic that slows progress and, at the extreme, impairs a business, is the creeping effect of complexity,” says Arnab Mishra, President and COO of Transera. “Complexity rears its head as products evolve, organizations grow, and business strategies change. CEOs of growing companies need to be aware of the impacts of growing complexity, and take actions to continuously simplify the operations and strategy of the organization.”

“CEOs that are most effective in reducing complexity tend to have a clear and well-communicated vision of the business’ goals, an ability to lead employees towards that vision, and a willingness to change course when it becomes clear that certain strategies are not providing the required results.”

“Simplicity is really important,” says Dan Horan, CEO of Five Acre Farms. “It’s got to be simple, and sometimes to make something simple you have to really, really study everything about it. It might turn out to be complex, but you have to present it simply, particularly when it comes to people: when people buy something, they don’t want a lecture.”

When is it time to scale? 3 signs to look out for

You might be asking yourself: “Should I scale or should I grow?” (as The Clash didn’t quite sing). It’s a tough decision—74% of startups fail due to premature scaling, so you have to pick the perfect time to take the plunge. There are a few key indicators that your business is ready:

When employees can’t handle the workload. Even though you have a strong cash flow due to repeatable sales, you might find yourself turning down new opportunities or letting customers down because your team is swamped.

When long-term business goals are unattainable. You may have smashed your short-term goals, but what about the future? If long-term success looks impossible (or really challenging) because you don’t have the right people or resources, it’s time to consider scaling.

Tips for how to scale a business

When we talk about scaling a business, we’re referring to strategies for growth that align with your original business vision while managing the impact of growth on your company. Implementing the following tips for how to scale a business form a sustainable scaling strategy you can rely on.

1. Know your purpose

Scaling a business is reliant on creating customer loyalty . The best way to create customer loyalty? Focus on employee loyalty first so they can spread the word and pass their enthusiasm for your company on to those they serve. Employees are loyal to companies whose purpose and values align with their own so they can feel their careers have a higher purpose. Learning how to scale a business will ultimately fail if you don’t first start with your “why” of going into business in the first place. Knowing your purpose and successfully communicating that to your team is the way to make them raving fans of your company and drive growth in an organic manner .

2. Develop a business map

Most entrepreneurs have a business plan, but have you thought about developing a business map ? Business maps are an effective, comprehensive way for scaling a business and meeting its goals. Creating a business map prompts you to ask foundational questions such as: What business are you really in? What was your reason for getting into this business in the first place?

Business maps encourage and challenge you to look at where you came from, define your purpose for starting this business and look ahead: What’s next for your business and where does your company ideally end up? Having this sort of documentation of your goals is a crucial part of learning how to scale a business and will be a helpful reference for when times get tough.

3. Perfect your product or service

With their focus on massive growth, many business owners forget to ensure that their product or service is solid. They often figure that they will just fix it after getting more users or more distribution. However, if you don’t work out the kinks and get rid of the bugs now, they will only get worse when you are scaling a business. This is why learning how to scale a business before pursuing growth will save you headaches and money in the long run. The early years of your business is a time to listen to feedback, find issues and improve your offerings until they meet your customers’ expectations. When you focus on creating a product or service that is of excellent quality, many of your growth issues will take care of themselves. Working on the issues in your first version also helps you assume more control when you scale your business because you will have a deeper understanding of what you and your customers want and need your product or service to be.

4. Create thoughtful processes and operations

How to scale a business doesn’t just involve growing upward and outward – it also means ensuring that your internal processes and operations are functioning seamlessly. The last thing you want is to start losing customers you’ve worked so hard to acquire because some part of your infrastructure is weak. While perfecting processes, keep in mind that some of the systems and processes that work when your company is in its early stages won’t work on a massive scale. This is where adaptability and flexibility come in, as you may need to tweak processes as you grow. Establishing a framework of what works and keeps your business running smoothly in the early years is key to scaling a business because it forms a solid core. While you can always improve on this core as growth occurs, it’s much more difficult to go back and create it once you’ve grown past a certain level.

5. Establish your team

It may seem obvious that establishing a strong team is a prerequisite for scaling a business – you can’t handle everything on your own. Developing a management team that is flexible and can grow with the company is an important component when it comes to learning how to scale a business.

Your team is not just about your employees, though. To master how to scale a business sustainably, you must work on developing external relationships with suppliers, partners and other outside organizations who will be part of your overall growth.

One of the best things about operating a small business is the ability to establish intimate relationships with your customers. You get to give them the experience that you want from beginning to end. And the goal should always be to create a raving fan – someone who will be a staunch advocate for your brand and help you scale your business by spreading the word.

Remember, the community that you create around your business can bolster your foundation so that you have even more strength and leverage as you grow. Having a solid network is so important it’s part of the definition of scaling a business. So take the time to really build the “team” that will propel you into the future.


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