Almost every successful business started out life as a small business. Even Apple famously ran out of a garage in the early days. Yet, some businesses successfully scale up while others fail or at least fail to grow. The good news is that scaling up your small business isn’t a matter of luck. You can plan around scaling and take steps that will help you successfully transition your small business into a growing enterprise.
Avoid Entrepreneurial Mistakes
A lot of the things that make someone a successful business founder actually inhibit a business from scaling up after the business establishes itself. Intense loyalty is incredibly important to keep a startup running, but it works against you later if the business outgrows someone’s competence. Scaling up means looking at everyone objectively and deciding if they’re still an asset to the business in their current position or a liability.
Entrepreneurs are often control freaks who keep their fingers in all aspects of the business. That tendency works great during startup when it’s all hands on deck for all jobs. Scaling up requires letting go and delegating important work for the sake of critical work.
Develop a Plan
Many small businesses started out as side hustles that outgrew that title. The problem with side hustles is that most people never wrote a business plan for their side hustle. It was just a way to make some extra cash. Correct that error and write a business plan.
Rather than a cold, informal document, a business plan makes you assess your entire business from its overall structure to revenue projections and marketing. It can provide insight into your strengths. Just as importantly, it helps you identify weaknesses. Figuring out how to correct those weaknesses provides you with the first steps in an action plan for scaling up.
IT, Software, and Automation
Information technology in small businesses is often little more than whatever hardware the business could afford at the time. Small businesses often use free software for critical processes precisely because it is free. That approach works in the short-term, but often creates more problems than it solves in the long term.
Different brands of hardware often create sub-optimal results. While you might not want to outsource all of your IT needs, an IT consultation can prove beneficial. You’ll get advice about beefing up your digital security, hardware upgrades, network optimization, and even software recommendations.
On the subject of software, free software applications often can’t integrate with each other without getting an API written to make it happen. Plus, many of them can’t scale. At some point, you’ll want everyone in the business working off the same software platform, such as Office 365 for Enterprise.
You will want to look into having guidance with your Office 365 onboarding to help you in terms of data migration, end-user communication, efficiency and timing. You can use automation tools to help smooth the way. Automation isn’t just for migrating to new software. You should look for tools that can automate routine processes in the business to free up employee time. Getting your IT, software, and automation game in order will make scaling up easier.
Small business owners and entrepreneurs routinely handle everything. They balance the books, handle all the hiring, and some even file their own taxes. Of course, small business owners aren’t experts at a lot of the things they do, which means they waste valuable time doing things other people can do better.
Track yourself for a month. How much time do you spend focusing on big picture problems and ideas that can drive growth? How much time do you spend on things you know you don’t do especially well. Figure out which things you don’t do well or that someone else could do a lot better and outsource those tasks. A few common things that small businesses aim at scaling up outsource include accounting, bookkeeping, marketing, order fulfillment, and even human resources.
Scaling up your small business calls for taking a hard look at your business from top to bottom and making a plan. Look for entrepreneur mistakes you can avoid. Outsource non-core tasks. Get your IT house in order. All of these things will make the scaling up process faster and easier.