If you want to scale up your business and make it a success, you should begin by asking yourself a couple of tough questions about your company’s capability and its capacity to deal with growth. This is not the time for egos and optimism; it’s time for honest reflection. You need to get a clear perspective on your current position. Many entrepreneurs tell us that they find this hard. They’re too close to their businesses and that means they don’t have the perspective to assess the situation clearly. To overcome this, you could consider turning to a trusted professional, like a CFO, or you might have a business mentor or coach who can give you dispassionate advice.
Before you begin scaling your business, these are the two tough questions that every entrepreneur should ask:
- Is your company capable of growing? Are you and the employees in your company capable of dealing with a growing amount of work or sales and of doing it cost-effectively? What happens if your company achieves exponential growth? Will your costs rise exponentially as a result?
- Does your company have the capacity to deal with growth? Can your business systems, employees, and infrastructure scale up fast to meet demand? For instance, if you get a sudden surge in orders, will your company be able to cope? Will you be still able to manufacture and deliver products or services on time? Do you have enough employees to deal with a surge in work or sales?
As you scale up your business, it’s really important that your quality and performance stay the same. You’ve built a reputation on delivering a certain standard and you don’t want to lose that by scaling up without robust plans in place. You also don’t want to run out of money because your rapid growth hits your cashflow.
Once you’ve finished your review, it’s time for you to work out which of the 7 factors for a successful business scale up you’re going to need. Investing in the preparation stage is the key to success – when you get this right, you can scale up rapidly and meet your goals. Remember to keep sight of your personal goals (what we call the Numbers That Really Matter), as well as your targets for your business. At the CFO Centre, we have a passion for helping clients to balance what’s important to feel accomplished both in their work and as humans.
You can see that you are going to need some careful planning and some funding to scale your business. You’ll also need to have the right systems, processes, technology, staff, finance, and even partners in place. If this sounds a bit daunting, don’t worry! Our CFOs have shared their incredible wealth of knowledge and experience so we can provide you with the 7 factors that they find in all effective business scale ups.
1. Identify the gaps in your processes
You need to audit your business processes (core processes, support processes, and management processes) to find their strengths and weaknesses. Find the process gaps and address them before you start to scale up.
Keep the processes simple and straightforward. Remember that complex processes slow things down and hinder progress.
2. How will you boost sales when you scale up?
Ask yourself what your company needs to do to increase sales. How many new customers will you need to meet your scaled-up goals?
Create a sales growth forecast that details the number of new clients you need, the orders, and the revenue you want to generate.
Examine your existing sales structure and decide if it can generate more sales. Can you increase your flow of leads? Do you need to offer different products or services? Is there an untapped market? Do you have a marketing system to track and manage leads? Is your sales team capable of following up and closing more leads?
Make sure you have enough staff to cope with an increase in sales. If you don’t have enough staff, consider hiring new employees, outsourcing tasks, or finding partners that may be able to handle functions more efficiently than your company.
3. Forecast scaling up costs as accurately as possible
Once you’ve done the sales growth forecast, create an expense forecast. This should include the new technology, employees, infrastructure and systems you’ll need so you are ready to handle the new sales orders. The more detailed your cost estimates, the more realistic your plan will be.
4. Get funding to cover your business expansion
If you need to hire more staff, install new technology, add facilities or equipment, and create new reporting systems, you’ll need money to invest. If you don’t have enough reserves to do this then you need to find money another way. Check out our helpful article if you aren’t sure how to fund your company’s growth.
5. Make delighting customers a priority
To reach your sales forecasts, your company will need loyal customers. You’ll win their loyalty by delivering outstanding products or services and customer service every time you interact with them. Don’t let scaling up reduce your quality.
6. Invest in the right technology
As you scale up, you and your team will find that manual tasks become overwhelming. If you leap from processing 5 website sales each day (for example) to 5 sales per hour, your employees will quickly get overwhelmed. You need to be ready to invest in technology that will automate tasks and you need to allow enough time to find the technology, migrate from your old system and train your team. In the end, all businesses depend on automation to bring costs down and make production more efficient.
Another important point in this area is integrating technology. You can have the best systems in the world but your business will struggle to thrive if they aren’t integrated. You need robust, scaleable systems that work smoothly together.
7. Successful scale up is hard – ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from experts who have experience in scaling up companies. We love this quote from an interview with Apple’s co-founder, Steve Jobs. He said,
“I’ve never found anybody who didn’t want to help me when I’ve asked them for help.
“I’ve never found anyone who’s said no or hung up the phone when I called – I just asked.
“Most people never pick up the phone and call; most people never ask. And that’s what separates, sometimes, the people that do things from the people that just dream about them. You gotta act. And you’ve gotta be willing to fail; you gotta be ready to crash and burn, with people on the phone, with starting a company, with whatever. If you’re afraid of failing, you won’t get very far.”
You can ask a high profile entrepreneur for help, turn to a trusted mentor or recruit a part-time CFO sit beside you. Whatever you choose, you will need a supportive, non-judgmental partner. A person who will help you develop a forward looking, scale up strategy that delivers the right numbers so your business can grow and fulfil your aspirations.
Find out how an experienced scaling-up CFO can help you
Would you like a chance to talk to someone who understands exactly how to de-risk your scale up? We’re pretty sure the answer is “yes” so why not book a no-obligation, 60 minute discovery call with one of our superstar CFOs?
Simply give us a call on 0800 169 1499 and let our in-house team know that you’re looking to scale up your business. They’ll book in your call and help you get your journey to success underway.
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