We hit the (digital) pavement to ask small business owners how to scale a business. And they delivered. They offered up 25 suggestions, including one about funding—a guaranteed way into our hearts. Strategically funding your business with working capital, grants and small business loans helps you succeed long-term.
We added two of our own tips to round out the list and ensure that your business scaling strategy produces the desired results. You should read the tips and tricks, then select and prioritize the ones applicable and feasible to your goals. Remember, you want to work smarter, not harder, in all things, and that includes any plans to scale a business.
- Determine your “why.” Growing big for the sake of being big will always fail to produce results. Business owners should think about “why” they want to scale in order to do it right. (Andrew Ross, Sensory Swim)
- Stick to your core values. How to scale a business? Ruthless devotion to your company vision and message. If you stick to it, you’ll grow. (Peter Lovisek, Fossil Realm)
- Nail it, then scale it. When you start or scale a business, you have to nail that initial value proposition. Know what compels people to say “yes” and use that information to fuel marketing initiatives and business growth. (Bryan Clayton, GreenPal)
- Think big, be big. You can’t scale your business if you think small. It’s amazing how much your business will change when you make a decision to think big and set a foundation for a 100- or 1,000-employee organization rather than the 10 on the current roster. (Michael J. Smith, Evus Technologies)
- Develop a system. To scale your biz this year, you’ll need systems—they make success predictable, and they free you up for massive growth. (Charity Sackman, Incredible One Enterprises, LLC)
- Invest in experiments. Don’t be afraid to try crazy, borderline-stupid experiments on a small scale and low-risk basis. If they fail, you learn a lesson. If they succeed, well, the sky’s the limit. (Nate Martin, Puzzle Break)
- Secure funding. If you want to grow your business, you have to have a solid business scaling strategy. And that means securing funding. Funding and cash flow give momentum and weight to your big business goals. (Casey Tibbs, Image Squared Marketing)
- Set a budget. An influx of money does not equal permission for a spending spree. You should look at last year’s budget, develop one for 2017, and plug in funds where needed. When you make strategic investments with loans and working capital, they always produce a return (ROI). (RapidAdvance)
- Sell what your customers need. If you want to scale your business effectively, you must understand the customer. Use surveys, analytics and big data to develop products and services that meet their needs rather than basing product development on what you think customers want. (Josh Wu, Fieldboom)
- Conduct market research. Besides analyzing your existing customers, you should monitor the market. Check out the competition. Assess what’s hot online and in stores. You should then combine that data with customer information to develop a strong business scaling strategy. (RapidAdvance)
- Find the profit sweet spot. When you experience business success and are ready to scale, you should perform a profit-loss assessment on clients. Identify the 80 percent of clients bringing in profits and focus on them rather than the ones sieving money and time. (Paul Koger, Foxy Trades)
- Build on past success. When you succeed in a vertical market, EXPLOIT it. Offer the same service or product to others in that market. (Bob Bentz, Advanced Telecom Services)
- Empower your team. You should empower your team by giving them insight into your approach and how you evaluate opportunities. My first manager showed me that it’s not only all right to share thought processes and mistakes but also key to building an effective team. (Rashmi Melgiri, CoverWallet)
- Scale your workforce. You should make use of freelancers to scale your team. From designers and developers to project managers and copywriters, it’s easy to bring in top talent to scale up production on an as-needed basis. (John Surdakowski, Avex Designs)
- Hire for the right fit. Freelancers help, but if you want to hire a full-time employee, you should hire “right-fit candidates.” They ensure your team stays strong. To identify a good fit, you should recognize the qualities of your existing top performers and screen for them during the interview process. Cultural fit’s important, so you should try to gauge that during the interview, too. (Steven Benson, Badger Maps)
- Utilize an operations manual. You should create and consistently maintain an operations manual so that if one of your employees leaves, or you want to expand any department, it’s as easy as giving them the manual. It shares what they need to know to be successful and reduces the time you spend teaching and training. (Danny Zoucha, Danny Zoucha)
- Outsource the nonessentials. You should outsource everything that isn’t at the core of what makes your company unique. You can start by ranking tasks by how much time they take and how little they require your unique skills. By outsourcing them, you’ll free up time and resources that can be spent on scaling your small business further. (John Turner, QuietKit)
- Contract out projects. Besides outsourcing time-consuming tasks, you should outsource projects that aren’t moving your business forward or bringing in income. If you want to scale your business, the worst thing you can do is spend time on projects and tasks that don’t move you forward. (Charlotte O’Hara, Charlotte O’Hara Designs)
- Keep the focus working ON your business, not IN your business. Too often, small business owners get buried in the weeds of the business, causing them to lose sight of their strategic vision. They should set strategic goals, then create actionable, progressive sub-goals that help reach the overall ones. (Ken Wentworth, Wentworth Financial Partners)
- Push for PR. If no one knows about your business, no one can buy from it. Scaling your business involves developing a public presence, and that’s where public relations (PR) comes in. (Ben Walker, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC)
- Develop your local presence. Small business owners who want to scale their companies should grow their local, online presence as much as possible. I’ve found the best and most effective option is staking a claim in the Google Local Pack. Business owners should optimize their websites and verify their Google listing to improve Local Pack rankings. Local SEO will only become more important as mobile usage continues to increase. (Brandon Seymour, Beymour Consulting)
- Use the 80:20 rule. You should stop over-producing and apply the 80:20 rule to your content marketing efforts. That is, you should create content 20 percent of the time and promote it 80 percent of the time. (Cheryl Clarke, Ginger Marketing)
- Lob the long-form. Long-form content positions you as an expert in the industry. To get started, write one 1,500-2,000-word article once a quarter. Make the content highly actionable and promote it with your target customers through email outreach and social media promotion. (Pat Ahern, Junto)
- Reach new audiences with out-of-the-box marketing tactics. To scale your business, you should be a guest on podcasts relevant to your target market. Many times, all you have to do is reach out and ask the podcast host! (Davis Baer, DonorSee)
- Make contacting your company easy to do. Using social media and appearing in key publications builds your company’s profile, as well as keeps your team accountable. You should make sure everyone at your company keeps an updated, public profile so that as your business grows, people can easily find and contact the right person instead of automatically reaching out to the CEO. It’ll save the CEO time and energy. (William Bauer, Royce Leather Gifts)
- Say “no.” You should say “no” to things you know you shouldn’t try to do even if there seems to be a hint of an opportunity there. Your gut is usually right; you should listen to it. (Kyle Golding, The Golding Group)
- Listen and learn. Finally, you should expand your board with non-executives and people who have proven experience—listening to and learning from their successes and mistakes will save you time and money. (Ian Naylor, AppInstitute)
Now’s the time to plan your business scaling strategy. If you need any assistance financing it, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re ready and willing to help you take the next step toward long-term profitability and growth.
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