You built an innovative product, but the wrong scaling strategy can cause your startup to come toppling down. Don’t miss these tips for scaling your business.
9 out of every 10 startup businesses will not stand the test of time. If you’re an entrepreneur, that 90% fail-rate should scare the heck out of you.
We’ve known a lot of outrageously talented people that have bandied phrases around like, “failure isn’t an option” only to find themselves applying for jobs within a couple of years of launching their companies.
So then, what’s the difference between the startups that fail and the few that succeed? Frankly, a lot of things that we don’t have time to go into in one blog post.
A key separator between success and failure though is a business’s ability to scale up fast enough to grow out of the red and into the black before their funding runs out.
If scaling your business is something that interests you, our recommendation is to prioritize the following 10 actions right now.
- Refine Your Customer Avatar
If you scale around a soft foundation, you’re going end up like the thousands of companies that work insanely hard and can’t figure out why they’re not succeeding.
The most important element of a business’s foundation is who their customer is. The better that you can define your customer avatar, the better that you can ensure that your company’s growth is in the right direction.
Take a moment to write out everything that you know about your customer. During this process, a lot of business owners find it helpful to use an image of an actual person to put a face to who they’re selling to.
What does your customer like? What are their pain-points? What are they looking for?
Once you know your customers like the back of your hand, structure your OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) around them and scale confidently from there.
- Minimize Your Product Offerings
A lot of startups operate under the mindset of, “more is more”. That mindset is a key contributor to bankrupting businesses.
In the early stages of scaling your business, it’s important that you ride your winners and ditch your losers.
Look at your sales for the last 12-months. Do any of your products represent a disproportionate amount of your sales? Would cutting away softer products and increasing the supply/marketing of your winning product increase or decrease your profit margins?
When you consider how much you might be able to save on bulk manufacturing, we’re betting that you’ll actually make more money by carrying fewer barcodes.
If you’re in the digital products market, try to reduce your digital offerings and instead, offer supplemental products as “add-ons” to your core product.
- Automate Your Processes
Every keystroke that you take, email that you send and piece of data that you sync costs your business opportunity. We’re not advocating that you avoid doing necessary things like going to the bathroom to save time. What we are saying is that the stuff you can allow technology to do on your behalf you should give away to technology.
There are great applications out there that will automatically transcribe meetings, push data into different applications and do a host of other things that can save you hours every month.
Look into the repetitive, menial tasks that you can automate today and get them off of your plate.
- Consider International Outsourcing
There are some tasks that require a human’s touch. For startups though, hiring humans can be one of the biggest drags on their bottom line.
To keep labor costs low, see if any of your tasks can be accomplished by international help. There are a lot of websites out there that offer ways to connect with freelancers that work out of lower cost of living places. These freelancers will ask for pennies on the dollar when compared to local labor.
It’s important to note that many tasks do not lend themselves to international labor. Writing, for example, can easily be identified as outsourced by consumers. If your website’s copy or marketing materials are bogged down by bad grammar, your conversion rates and brand will suffer.
- Hire Contractors Over Employees
For those special jobs that you need local labor to help out with, scaling your business begs that you do everything that you can to avoid hiring employees and instead, work with contractors.
Contractors are typically talented, have less government-created red tape around them and do not require you to provide them with benefits.
Health benefits alone cost businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars every year if not more. Avoid those expenses as you scale by consulting with a lawyer and finding out how you can legally build your team around contracted labor.
- Double Down on Your Marketing Efforts
Every startup company has marketing on their radar to an extent. Few though make marketing part of their daily to-do list.
Scaling your business requires that you do little things every day to engage new consumers, build trust with existing ones and eventually drive sales.
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As a side note, your marketing efforts should be diversified to ensure that you’re casting the widest possible net.
Focus on platforms that your target customer hangs out on both digitally and locally and spread out your marketing dollars accordingly.
- Take Your Team to the Cloud
Thanks to breakthroughs in technology, whole businesses have managed to move their teams to the cloud. That move collectively saves companies millions of dollars per year housing their employees.
If you’ve never managed a digital team before, we recommend that you don’t rip your team out of the workplace and go online straight away. Instead, start integrating online communication tools like Slack into your daily routine. Then, designate certain days as “work from home days” so you can continue to work out mobile workforce kinks.
Finally, when you feel your team is ready, pull the plug on your office and start working digitally.
- Be Disciplined With Meetings
Sometimes, getting together with work colleagues to develop plans is essential. After all, there’s only so much that can be accomplished via email.
Many times though, meetings become an excuse for people to get together just to catch up on agenda items that are not pertinent to your company’s goals.
Any time something needs to be discussed, ask yourself, “Can it be handled via email or a quick phone call?”
If the answer to that question is yes, don’t allow the meeting in question to be scheduled.
- Remove Emotion From Your Decisions
Your business is your baby. From the moment that you conceived it, you probably had ideas of what it would be and where it would go.
That initial vision is important in guiding your business through its first steps. As it comes into its own though, the market will dictate what your business should be.
Many smart people have failed their businesses by trying to shove them into a mold that they’re emotionally attached to rather than pivoting them to better serve consumers and profits.
Avoid being that kind of a person.
Your business’s main goal should always be to drive value for shareholders.
If your company’s only shareholders are you and a friend, make sure your business ceaselessly serves your needs. If your business is publicly traded one day and belongs to thousands of people, wake up every morning with the goal of making those people rich no matter what that means.
- Put Yourself in the Driver’s Seat (Not All of the Seats)
There’s a popular mantra with start-ups that goes something like, “You need to wear multiple hats and bootstrap your business.”
In our opinion, if financially feasible, you don’t want to fall into the trap of being your organization’s jack of all trades.
If you’re directing marketing campaigns, how are you focusing on pursuing new clients? If you’re focused on new clients, how are going to commit yourself to customer service?
Nobody can do an outstanding job while managing multiple jobs at once. And since each of your businesses chores requires excellence, managing multiple duties creates a serious problem.
Find out where your time is best spent in your company and focus your efforts there. Let other people worry about perfecting everything else.
Wrapping Up Our Tips for Scaling Your Business
Scaling your business and achieving massive growth hinges on the 10 things that we’ve just discussed.
If you want to start being successful today, commit our points of discussion to memory and do everything in your power to maximize each of them.
With some effort and time, you’ll start to see your business soar higher than you ever imagined.
Knowledge is power when it comes to business. Our team is committed to keeping you up to speed on the best technology, workflows and other pieces of important information that can help you to get the most out of your organization.
For more game-changing tips, check out additional content on our blog today.