When you started your business, you were doing all the things! From coming up with the perfect name and logo, through doing all the work, as well as all the nitty gritty administrative tasks that never seemed to end. It was a bit of a slog, but you got through it!
Now that you have an established business you’re still doing all the things, but you feel more secure knowing what to do. Yes, taxes are still a pain but don’t feel as scary as they did when you started. Your business is running quite smoothly now. But now you want more! You want to see your baby grow. It has helped many people along the way and you want it to continue to do so.
However, what you need more than a growing business is a scalable business.
Well, you may ask, “Isn’t growth and scalability the same?”. Not quite. When you decide to grow your business, you work at acquiring new customers, increasing your revenue and improving your skill set, but as these things improve, so does the amount of time and effort you are putting into the business. A scalable business gives growth without increasing your personal day-to-day involvement. This allows you time and space to work ON your business, rather than IN your business, and focus on the mission-critical tasks for its success.
Now that you’re convinced on why you need a scalable business, here are the steps I recommend you take to achieve it:
Start with the End
Before you jump into creating a scalable business, you to be clear on the destination and WHY you want to go there.
Why do you want to scale your business? Is it because you want to spend more time with your little one? Perhaps you want your business to run on its own so you can start a new side project? Usually, the idea is to gain more time so you can focus on the things you love to do! Whatever the reason, your business needs to be able to accommodate for it. Figure out the end goal by aligning your business goals with your lifestyle dream, and then move onto scaling your business.
You can’t scale a business if there aren’t any processes in place. Why? Because without clear steps to reach an outcome, there’s no possible way to turn your business into a well-oiled machine. Without clear processes things can be missed. The great part is you probably follow a process subconsciously already. An example could be an invoice you send your customers at the end of the month. Once you receive payment, you quickly send a ‘thank you’ email to notify them you’ve got it.
Now, the next step is to get those processes from your head onto paper where anyone can refer to when needed. There are multiple ways to do this. You could take out the good ol’ reliable flip file and start writing each procedure down. However, this is tedious as you’re not able to quickly make changes if needed and it’s difficult to access. What my team and I use is Trello.
Trello is like a virtual sticky note system, but way more powerful. You to create boards, add lists or sections to each board, and individual cards on each list. Cards can move between lists on boards, be copied to other boards, and get all kinds of labels and notifications set up. Within cards, you can create checklists which relate to each activity that needs to be done, such as – create an invoice, send an invoice, receive email, and send a ‘thank you’ email. You can create a workflow processes board template, and as a new client comes on board, the checklists and required information is copied to their card. This makes it great for managing processes in your business. The best part is you can easily share boards with your team!
Technology is a great tool that can help ‘automate’ your business but people are still an integral part. Whether they’re customers or employees, people to do business with people. Humans are very social creatures and we need some form of interaction with other people. Therefore, building a trusted network of experts that can support your business is crucial. These experts can help you with various aspects of scaling your business and it’s simple!
You can start by finding a VA (Virtual Assistant) on a platform like UpWork to help you with simple administrative tasks like data entry or scheduling events and meetings with clients. Anything that’s time-consuming but not critical should be handled by them so you can focus on more important things. But as your business starts to scale, more specialised skills may be needed. These could be things like accounting or a Google Ads expert where years of experience is vital. Nonetheless, almost any function can be outsourced to build your dream team.
Creatively Package Services
For most business owners, their passion lies in the core of their business – the product or service. A passionate photographer who loves taking pictures may have gotten requests from family members to take snaps at special events. One thing led to another and they started getting clients through referrals because of their quality of work. This gave them the opportunity to leave their 9 to 5 job and focus solely on what they love. This is a very common scenario but a problem is your service probably isn’t scalable. Many businesses simply exchange hours for dollars and move on. The issue with this is you’re leveraging your most important asset which is your time.
How can you make your service scalable? There are many ways to go about doing this but it really depends on your business. A tech company like Facebook has it right because they focus on a single product that can acquire any amount of users. But many service businesses are able to do the same! Take a company like Design Pickle. They offer unlimited graphics creation for a set fee per month. There’s a small catch and it’s that you can only request a single piece of content at a time. If you want to simultaneously have two graphics created at the same time, you purchase another package. This eliminates the need for any business negotiation and makes the business scalable as Design Pickles team is outsourced and located all around the world.
With a little creativity, you can also create a scalable ‘productised’ service.
Think Big, Take Action
Owning a business and working in your business are different but are often melded. As a ‘manager’ you’re constantly working in the details, like figuring out why your Facebook posts won’t schedule on time. But as an ‘owner’, being bogged down by the details will hinder your businesses progress. Thus, your company’s ability to scale requires you to move away from working on the details and start thinking about the big picture. You decide where to steer your business. Where’s your business going to be in 5 years? How can you gain 3x more clients? Are there opportunities that you can seek out?
As you answer these questions, you’ll think of various ways of accomplishing them and it’s tempting to work on the details but this prevents scalability. If your business relies on your time, then it can only grow as the 24 hours a day you have. Find the appropriate people to take action for you! This keeps you hands-off to focus on the bigger picture and leading your business in the right directions
What do you think are the next steps to scale your business? Let me know in the comments!
Chanelle is a business coach/consultant and personal branding specialist with over 20 years of experience. She's been featured in Forbes, Thrive Global, Stylist Magazine and COACH Magazine. She runs a global training business and works with women helping them launch, grow and scale their online businesses and create a freedom-based life through entrepreneurship.