At its core, scaling refers to a set of events that connects seven key components of your organization: positioning, product innovation, marketing, sales, operations, production/development, and customer support.
With all of these components working together, you can scale and grow your small business in a more sustainable fashion. When you scale successfully, growth is controlled and predictable, and leakage—a loss of revenue and forward momentum—is minimized.
Because you have to set weekly agendas and drive progress within your organization, scaling is often about relentless execution. You need to ensure that you and your team are working cohesively and that you are focused on the right stuff—the stuff that builds value.
When scaling your small business and attempting to minimize leakage, it’s important to:
Know what you can (and can’t do) as owner of the business. Look at all the components of scaling and decide which of these tasks can be delegated, thereby freeing you up to focus on big-picture tasks and the overall direction of the company.
Work on the items that drive your company forward. Set goals and strategize your company’s next move instead of focusing on day-to-day tasks like programming code, tinkering endlessly with product packaging, or handling all the sales for the company.
Develop and implement processes at the right times. Growth is a never-ending process, not a one-time event. Put in place the appropriate processes at the right times that, if properly aligned with the goals of your business, will drive your team forward in a balanced, powerful, and focused way.
Formalize lead generation campaigns and the sales process you want your sales staff to follow. Without these processes, your sales staff will not be working as a cohesive unit and may not successfully make sales, resulting in lost revenue for your company.
Fill your company with talented people. In any organization, no matter the industry, people are key. It’s important to begin hiring early in the scaling process, before you and your staff are overwhelmed with new business and have no time to train new employees. Staff your company with workers whose skillsets match the goals of your company, and reward your key employees in order to retain them. If you fail to staff your organization to match your goals, the opportunity cost is huge.
Review how the moving parts work together. Is weak sales performance the fault of the sales team? Perhaps, but it’s just as likely due to be poor positioning, poor definition of your target audience, or unremarkable marketing content and anemic lead generation. Review all of the components of scaling to ensure they’re working together effectively.
Look at the big picture. Is it changing? Consider whether the upcoming bends in the road require changes in tactics. Change comes hard and fast, and weak sales may be the result of your failure to be proactive, or at the very least, reactive, to change.
In the current networked world in which we trade, it’s easy to become invisible, to flat line, and to be ignored. The challenge for every small business is to cross the bridge from entrepreneurship to a professionally managed business, and scaling can help you do this effectively within your organization.
Ian Smith is the author of “Fulfilling the Potential of Your Business: Big Company Thinking for the Mighty Small Business,” which won the Small Business Book Awards for Management in 2012. His blog, the Smith Report, focuses on ways to scale businesses. In 2010 he founded the Portfolio Partnership to help CEOs fulﬁll the potential of their businesses. As an ex-CFO, investment banker, venture capitalist, and CEO, Mr. Smith has realized more than $400 million for shareholders over the past 25 years. Still competitive, Ian is ranked in the top 20 in the world at 400m on the track for his age.