When you decide to scale your small business you immediately realize that scaling a business is difficult. Then you start to ask yourself and your business network why is scaling a business so difficult? The main reason is that there is no magic formula; no one correct answer in this instance. While I continue to struggle with this question myself I have come up with a few keys to scaling a small business.
Everything in a small business begins with a process. How will we specifically deliver to our customers? How will we find and train new employees? How will we track records? How will we find new customers? The list goes on and on. When you sit down to actually detail out your business processes you realize how much work you have to do. It has to be detailed enough for you to walk away from the business. In the end you want to be able to turn your business over to someone else internally or sell it. One mentality to take is to design your business process to the point where if you die today your business won't suffer at all. Once your business processes are detailed and dialed enough where you are not needed to operate then you are ready to scale.
Ability To Delegate
The truth is most people are great at what they do, but they are not good at leading. It must be tough to be good at your job but be bad at being in business. Offering a product or service and running a business are totally different. Sure I could offer bookkeeping services on my own, but I could only do so much before I was at maximum capacity. Being willing and confident in delegating certain tasks will be a key factor in the ability for your business to scale. Watching over every little thing in your business will get you nowhere. You have to trust that you have done a good job hiring the best people that you could find and have trained them to operate the way that you need them to.
Many small business owners have trouble letting go because doing everything is all they have ever known. Additionally they feel as if they are being phased out of the business. If they don't handle the day to day operations what will they do? So they find themselves at a crossroad that can determine the difference between success and failure. Let go of certain tasks and grow or stay involved with everything and remain stagnant. It is a tough decision for many and most just can't let go.
Your business culture is extremely important when trying to scale your business. How can company culture affect your ability to scale? Not everyone is trying to scale their business to the same level. Some have visions of a massive company with a take over the world mentality, while others want a business that provides a good life for themselves and their employees that is also good for the community. No matter what your end goal is your business culture will play a large role in your ability to meet those goals. Defining your business culture can also be difficult. You can't necessarily define a culture as much as you can influence it. A business culture also tends to evolve on its own based upon the goals, principles and actions of the key members of the business. Having a business culture that is aligned with your goals will play a huge role in your ability to scale your business.
Vision Of The Business
As a small business owner do you ever wonder if you know where you are going? Do you know where you want to go? Do you question if you are the right person to lead the business? Where does the small business owner turn with their questions? There are lots of great free resources available to you as a small business owner to help you with your issues and questions. National resources like SCORE offer mentoring, market research and help finding funding. You can also check to see if there is a small business development center near you that offers similar services. These services are free to the small business owner and are designed to answer your questions and challenges and help you grow the business. These free resources are typically made up of very successful business owners that are paid to help you or volunteer their time to help you.
Lack of vision is a normal feeling for a small business owner. The problem with the vision is that there is no one right answer. There is no simple test that tells you where to take the business. The vision is all about you. Where do you want to be? More importantly why do you want to be there? If you can't define the underlying factors of your business goals then you most likely will not achieve them. Passion is what drives the vision of your business. You need to define why you are in business and where you want to go.
Successfully scaling a business takes a shift in your mentality. Allow me to throw out some great clichéd phrases that you have certainly heard before.
Are you running your business or is it running you?
Don't work in your business, work on your business.
Clichéd? Yes. But certainly some truth and wisdom in those statements. When you bring together your businesses processes, the ability to delegate, a clearly defined vision and a culture that is aligned to that vision then you are ready to scale. Just remember scaling a business is difficult so you will be refining your processes along the way while always keeping your end goal in mind.
What key factors do you think influence the ability for a business to scale?