Have you reached the point where you need to think about scaling your business? It is an exciting time, and it also has the potential to launch your company to the next level. It is the logical next step, but it is not without its dangers. So, as with all your big decisions, it needs to be carefully considered, and a battle plan needs to be drawn up.
There are some key challenges that you will face when trying to scale up. They aren’t insurmountable, but they can derail all of your efforts if they aren’t carefully managed, or worse, not even considered. I’ve put together a list of seven challenges commonly faced by businesses attempting to scale up.
Scaling Before you are Ready
Deciding when to scale can be a tough call, and it is a decision that many startups get wrong. Often companies scale before their products or services are ready. They are still in some form of development. Working out product issues while scaling becomes a considerable challenge. Another common mistake is scaling before you’ve refined your target market or even understand market demands. Be patient, do your research, and only scale when you are ready.
Choosing Who to Work With
As you grow, you’ll need to reconsider certain relationships. You’ll need to ensure that your current suppliers can handle increased demand. You also need to think about possibly bringing in additional investors to help with the growth. Finally, you need to pay careful attention to the staff that you bring on board. This is a subject that we’ve addressed before, but it is worth reiterating the importance of ensuring that you get the right team on board from the start. All staff, suppliers, and investors need to be an excellent cultural fit for your company. They need to have the competencies to add real value to your business.
A common assumption is that you need more customers as you scale, so we need to focus on marketing and sales. While they are both integral parts of your growth, it is crucial not to lose focus on the most important thing, which is the quality of your offerings. If you are entering an existing market with key players that are well established, you need to make sure that you are better than what is already out there. By focusing on your product or service first, you will build the quality and value your customers are looking for and build long-term demand.
Competing on Price
There are definitely models in which competing on price will work, but it is often described as a “race to the bottom.” This is true for the quality of your product and for your profit margins. You should always try to compete on customer service, quality, and ingenuity. Customers are more interested in a value offering than getting the cheapest on the market. The common perception is that the cheapest is also the lowest in quality, and that is never a good badge for your brand to wear.
Avoiding Internal Restructuring
It is reckless to assume that management and leadership structures that have been effective for your company of 50 people will be able to scale and operate with the same efficiency when the company reaches 200 or 300 employees. As you are scaling, your management structure will be dealing with a whole raft of new issues, so they need to be supported, and structures will need to be adjusted. That simple organizational chart that served your initial growth so well may not be able to handle the pressures of scaling.
Scaling will put pressure on all aspects of your business, and issues will inevitably pop up. You can expect to encounter personnel capacity, personality clashes as workloads and stress increase, and product issues. As the CEO or founder, you can’t afford to brush over any of these issues lightly. They need to be tackled when they rear their heads, and you’ll often find that getting to the bottom of them will give you deeper insight into your business.
In addition, it is essential to foresee avoidable issues and mediate risk as you grow by establishing a rock-solid security strategy and investing in quality systems and software. Today’s security technologies are so advanced that the benefits to your growing business far surpass security posturing improvements. The right security systems can significantly improve overall productivity and staff experience, as well as assisting in attracting and retaining the best employee talent. If your business scales quickly, sudden changes in the risks you must manage can become extremely challenging and potentially catastrophic if mismanaged, so make sure you carefully consider the best security technologies for your growing enterprise.
Scaling Also Means Cutting Back
But scaling is about growing and getting bigger! This is true, but it is also about recognizing what won’t work anymore. That often means taking a long, hard look at processes, staff, and even whole departments that don’t match your goals and needs. As with the human body, carrying extra unnecessary weight will do damage in the long run. Becoming as fit as possible is vital to ensure your company’s health.
Scaling is not easy, but it is a vital part of the growth of your business. It is also going to be a fantastic learning opportunity for you as the founder of the business. Avoiding, or rather managing, the issues listed above will go a long way to soothing the rocky road ahead and with that the increased profit and longevity you are aiming for.