Scaling your small business can seem like an incredibly daunting task in entrepreneurship. Struggling to break through to the “next level” is a common problem among new business owners, and it can often seem like there is no way to tell how to make your business qualifiable for it. Nothing in business is ever absolute and there is no personal guarantee, however, there are certain steps you can take today to increase your chances of taking your business to the next stage of its success. Today we will discuss how to increase the scalability of your small business or startup.
What Is Scaling for a business?
Before we talk about how to grow and scale your business, it is important to understand the big picture of what scaling is. Scaling is the process of creating practices and processes that make the functions of your business repeatable, reliable, and standardizable. Scaling is important for small businesses that wish to reach past their plateau and is dependent upon proper allocation of workflow. Three primary types of work must be allocated in any successful business: “Competitive”, “Competitive Enabling”, and “Necessary”.
“Competitive” work is work that you do on the business that aims to set you apart from other businesses. It is the type of work that entails what processes within your business makes you money and drives away your competitors. An example of this type of work is measuring and improving the quality of your product to make it more appealing for customers.
“Competitive Enabling” work is the work that supports “Competitive” work. This type of work is about taking the processes in “Competitive” work, enabling them, and refining them. Some examples of this are customer surveying to learn what your product needs to improve on as well as more concrete processes such as lead generation for new customers.
The last type of work is “Necessary” work. This type of work will take up a majority of your business, and operates as the minimum required work to keep your business afloat. Examples of these include filling out the proper paperwork, initiating payroll, and ensuring the law is in line with your business model. Many of these processes can be you can automate.
To achieve scalability it is important to find ways to focus your efforts away from “Necessary” work and instead on the “Competitive” and “Competitive Enabling” work. By focusing on these two types of work, you are effectively increasing the limit of your business thus pushing yourself out of the plateau. In summary, if you can focus on doing the work that makes your business stand out rather than survive, your business’ scalability will increase dramatically.
Finding Your Business’ Identity and Culture
Prioritizing what type of work must get done is essentially an exercise in determining your business’ identity. Many small or new business owners fall into the trap of focusing too much on the day in and day out tasks of their new business and do not take the time to sit down and think about what their new business excels at. Successful entrepreneurs have the ability to determine what work needs automation and what work needs special attention. Even larger business owners may get so caught up in the success of their business that they forget to ask themselves why specifically customers are drawn to them over their competitors. This can become a major issue for larger companies when they are unable to understand their market and pivot when it is required. Determining what your business is and what it stands for is crucial to discovering what type of work in your business matters to your cash flow and eventual scalability. So how do you get started at figuring out your business’ identity?
As a business owner, you must be able to answer the following questions about yourself:
- Who are you?
- Why are you here?
- Who are you serving?
- What is your skill set?
- How will your customers know what sets you apart (What is your competitive edge)?
Then you must ask yourself these questions about your business:
- What are some differentiators (no more than 4) that separate your business from your competitors?
- What are the capabilities that you have to be good at to deliver those differentiators (Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Pricing, Responsiveness, Social Media Presence, etc)?
- Who are your competitors and how do you know? (Your competitors may not be who you expect)
- Why do your customers value your new product?
- What is your business’ strategic plan?
Once you can answer these questions, you will be able to pinpoint what your primary small business administration should be.
Being Scalable And Being A Leader
To achieve scalability, your ultimate goal should be to understand what work increases your customer base the most and putting that work into action with a business strategy plan. Your plan should be a page long or less, otherwise, you run the risk of spreading your responsibilities too far or focusing on “Necessary” work when you should not be. Your plan should be precise and easy to follow. You need to be able to do real-life identity articulation on a page. The origination of your strategic plan should come from the answers to the questions asked above. The final step is to take your action plan and put it into practice. You may likely struggle or fail in your initial plans, however, this will only serve to help you improve your practices and your plan over time. Make sure you have some form of metrics or bookkeeping to measure how well you will keeping up with your strategic plan and attain sustainable growth.
Recognizing your business’ identity and prioritizing your work is incredibly important. However, it is just as important to follow suit with your business plan and not fall back into old short-term habits. This is more easily achievable by having processes in place for your mundane work and being a good leader. Proper leadership means having the time to focus on work that matters. Good leadership and creating a hospitable work environment that allows employees to grow are key to having reliable employees and team members. Having reliable employees that can handle the usual ins and outs of your business is essential to scalability. It is also vital that you encourage your employees when they are doing work that allows you to achieve your success and focus on your strategic plan. In conclusion, you must be a good small business owner as with impeccable leadership skills to scale up your business. All of these factors combined will lead to a better track record on company goals and a high probability of to increase sales, increase your valuation, and reach the next level you dreamed of for your small business. Do not expect to see rapid growth, instead expect to see gradual steady change.
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