If you’re pondering exactly what steps to take when scaling your business then, clearly, you’ve decided that scaling up is the right thing to do. Our Business Growth Series outlined the hurdles, practical and psychological, which have to be cleared before you’re ready to embark on upscaling your business. Deciding you’re ready, however, is only the first step on a long and arduous journey, and the following tips are designed to make that journey a little bit simpler and more likely to be successful.
Take a Step Back
When you run a small business it’s all too easy to get caught up in the minutiae of the day to day management. This is only natural, particularly if you started as a sole trader and have built from there, but it is also risky when the time comes to think in strategic terms. When your business is expanding and growing then the risks and opportunities magnify in line with that growth, and being able to step back and remove yourself from the million and one mundane tasks which running a business entails, will let you take an overview of this bigger picture. Prioritise the things which you, as leader, absolutely have to focus on, and be merciless about delegating the rest. Of course, that means having people to delegate to….
The first staffing issue to consider revolves around the people you hire to work for you. Make sure they offer enough to make them worth hiring, and can step up when the time comes for you to step back. To this end, surround yourself with people who generate ideas as well as simply doing their job, who do a job which couldn’t be better handled via automation, and who can handle a multiplicity of tasks. These are the people who’ll be able to run things when your focus is on the strategic aspects of scaling up.
The other aspect of staffing as it pertains to scaling up was covered in a previous post and the basic point is to only hire full time employees when there’s no other alternative. The other options suggested, such as contracting out and working with freelancers – will not only save money, they’ll also leave you in a position to be more flexible when responding to the challenges presented by scaling up.
Utilising the many layers of automation now available may require time and some investment at the front end, but it will more than pay dividends further down the line. Ask yourself what the person handling your payroll, for example, could be doing that would help to drive business onward and upward, rather than simply keeping things ticking over. Other parts of the business open to automation include:
- Cloud storage and organisation
- Bill paying and invoicing
- Social media interaction
- The recruiting process
- Customer support tracking
The list is virtually endless, as more and more online tools become available which, if used correctly, can free up vast amounts of time otherwise spent performing vital but small and tedious tasks.
Ask yourself how much of what you do genuinely has to be handled within your business. Aspects such as accounting, legal cover and public relations could be outsourced to separate companies. The advantages are that the company in question, due to economies of scale, will probably be able to handle the work for less than you’d pay a member of staff, and the time saved within your office can be dedicated to the matters which are genuinely quintessentially in house.
Make sure that your marketing is working to its maximum possible effect. With reference to the tips listed above, this job could be outsourced or handled by freelance operatives. Whilst you might be the specialist in terms of your own business and the services or goods which you provide, other people have the expertise as far as marketing is concerned, and can put together a strategy ensuring that your brand image and the offer you provide reaches as many of your target market as possible.