To sustainably expand your business involves a lot more than taking on more DAUs, MAUs, ARR, (insert any of those other three-letter metrics we love so much)
Such things as creating a process that accommodates macro-level changes in the market sentiment go a long way in helping you scale your business.
While that probably won’t move the number in your weekly report in the right direction. Doesn’t mean it’s not important.
We don’t want your business crashing and burning in its prime. Consider doing the following as you scale your business.
Run your business according to your industry best practices
It’s probably the only time it’s okay to copy other businesses.
Don’t misunderstand us, we are not saying to do what everybody else is doing. We speak here of back-office tasks and standard requirements of your industry. It’s one place you don’t want to be disruptive.
If you are selling insurance to pre-schoolers, you can’t simply open shop without the proper documentation and licenses – while claiming to disrupt the industry. Or if you are opening a digital bank (like Lydia in Nigeria), you need the right papers from the Central Bank.
Without them, sooner or later, the constituted authority will come knocking.
In terms of invoicing, bookkeeping, employee insurance, employee training and more, do what works, but make sure you don’t sabotage yourself by using a process that won’t be able to grow with your business.
Make yourself available in a structured way
One of your greatest assets as a startup (compared to a corporation) is your ability to provide bespoke and intimate services to your users – mainly because there is not a lot of customers on your hand for now. It’s possible at this point to have someone handle the phone all day.
However, don’t get carried away with this state of affairs. After a while, your customers will increase exponentially.
In order to keep your customers happy, create a structure around your availability.
Clearly state your business hours on your website and business cards. If your office closes at 6 pm, customers shouldn’t be mad that you can’t answer the phone at 8 pm. For a startup, you probably want to offer a 24 / 7 customer care (which is brilliant), just make sure to devote enough resource to make it practical. Don’t over-promise when you can’t over-deliver.
Expect growth and plan accordingly
When it comes to scaling your business, don’t wait for when the numbers start rolling in before you begin to think about scaling.
Although demand should play a role in your decision to scale, you need to have a robust growth strategy from the beginning.
If your business gets 5000 new customers over a month without the right infrastructure to meet their demands, then you are worse off than when you didn’t have any customers. The second-order effect of these disgruntled customers is that they’ll tell others about their experience. And on and on it goes.
Simplify your model in a way that it easily accommodates changes in demand and other macro-level changes in the industry.
Build a meaningful industry network
One of the reasons we organize events like the Silicon DrinkUp at Starta is because we know that these gatherings help founders share essential business skills – such as how best to grow your business.
Actual experiences from other entrepreneurs are valuable in helping you to get up and take action towards scaling your business.
Moreover, the connections go beyond sharing ideas and on to forging actual partnerships that can catalyze the growth of your company.
Examine your financial options for expansion
If you will go from $1 million to $50 million in revenue, you are going to do more than just plow back profit into your business.
You need extra capital on your side. Very few big businesses are self-funded. In order to set your scaling moves on the right track, you need someone on your team who can outline your needs and the right type of funding you need to support that growth. A loan, equity, convertible notes, grant or something else?
A clear understanding of your needs will help you convince investors to bet on you.
As mentioned in the previous point, scaling will take more than simply plowing back profit.
Approach investors or consider other alternatives (see above).
Understand, though, that to attract funding, you need to keep your financials up to date and easily digestible.
Work on your business, rather than in your business
Don’t get consumed by the minutiae of your business such that you are not able to think strategically about growth.
Keeping the big picture in mind will help you develop, and keep to an effective growth strategy.
Delegate busy work. Lead, don’t micro-manage.
Hire smarter people
Not micro-managing is hard. But one way to easily solve the problem is to hire people smarter than yourself.
When you hire people who are smarter and more talented than you are, you can trust them to handle any assignment on their own.
Even when you are not around for months, you can be sure the house won’t be on fire when you return.
Smarter people are great, but they are also expensive. Sometimes, rather than bring a new talent in-house, simply outsource the task in question. To keep your process smooth, you can keep the freelancer on a retainer.
Keep an open mind
Although we’ve mentioned creating a process for your business such that it can function even when you are not around, you need to be open to when you need to go above and beyond for some customers.
This sort of deviation in your process can mean short-term inefficiency, but you will likely keep that customer for life.