If you want to scale your business quickly then there are some tried and tested ways to achieve this.They aren’t magic bullets and as with all things business they do come with elements of risk but if you are wanting to rapidly achieve a good size then these tips may help.
Some of our tips are designed to help you get your business into the right shape for growth, whilst some look at methods of achieving that growth and some are ways to mitigate the problems that growing businesses encounter.
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Growing your business is much easier said than done and one of the things we’ve noticed is that companies that go about it in a planned and structured way tend to grow faster and bigger than those that take a more haphazard approach.
Now we’re not saying that you shouldn’t take advantage of a golden opportunity should it arise, just that planning to grow makes much more sense.
This is a really important one and is rightly placed at the very start of our list.
Deciding exactly what you want your business to look like, how big you want it to be, how you want it to run all make the likelihood of achieving sustainable growth that much greater.
Sit down with a notepad and write out a description of what your business looks like once your growth has been completed.
Who is running the company? Where are you based? What do you sell and to whom?
Remember the maxim “Failing to plan is the same as planning to fail” and you won’t go far wrong.
Preparation is the key with a fast-growing business.
In every company, there are a number of things that you mean to change but never actually seem to get around to.
But if you are on a growth path then you’ll find that these often hinder your progress and can cause some serious problems.
Make sure you go through a full preparation and planning process before you put any money into growing your business, that way you can be sure that your investment won’t be wasted.
One of the key things to change if you want to grow isn’t anything physical, it’s much more mental.
Changing your state of mind to a company that is already large means that you’ll think and act like a larger version and you’ll make decisions that work for a growing company and don’t automatically constrain you.
You’ll also make decisions that are based not only on what is best for your business now but also on what will be best in the future.
When you know what you want to be then there comes a time when you actually need to make the break.
Making the changes necessary to allow for growth is all about getting the right systems, policies and procedures in place that provide the bedrock for the changes.
When you are a small company you can do things on the fly but as you grow you’ll realise that standardisation is the way to go.
Think about recruiting people for example.
If you only take on one new person every year then it doesn’t matter that you write each offer letter by hand or that you do their induction personally.
But when you are bringing in 10 people a month then you need to have a standardised process that includes things like form letters, standardised application and joiner’s forms and an induction process designed to ensure everyone gets the same information.
The same goes for any part of your business. Where you can standardise, without losing the key small business attribute of flexibility, then you should.
This may seem obvious but bigger businesses are much busier than smaller ones.
This means that processes and procedures that work perfectly well when you are producing 100 widgets a week, fall down completely when you have an order for 1,000.
From a finance point of view, making single, manual payments to each of your suppliers may be great when you only have two suppliers, but when you have thousands - well that’s when you need a proper solution like SurePay.
The big mistake that many growing companies make is that when work gets busy they just take on more people which simply builds in more expense.
Use automation wherever possible, that way you can grow efficiently and your cost base won’t grow out of all proportion.
Does the way you charge your customers still work if you were to double, treble or quadruple the number of people you supply?
If you charge people a bespoke day rate for each job, does that still work when you have thousands of customers who all want something different?
If not then you need to think about how you will charge your customers in the future.
You could look at a subscription model where customers pay a set monthly fee through recurring payments, or you could use a ‘rate card’ type charging model that lets every salesperson know exactly what they should be charging.
Changing the whole basis of your charging model is much easier when you have a few customers than doing it later when you may have hundreds or even thousands.
This follows on from the standardisation point.
If you are a small business then it is likely that you have a keen eye on your marketing and you probably know from experience what works and what doesn’t.
But as you grow and your marketing budget does likewise then you’ll need to make sure that you have a method of marketing that works for your larger business.
A marketing method is a series of standardised steps that you take whenever you are looking to increase sales, launch a new product or introduce extra services.
A lot of the time it will be based on trial and error but once you have found a formula that works for you then you need to ‘lock it in’ so that you can replicate it over and over again.
Unfortunately, many growing businesses neglect this step meaning that they have to go back to trial and error again and again, wasting valuable time and of course money in the process.
One of the main problems for a rapidly growing enterprise is that they often need higher-level help but can’t afford to pay higher level money by employing people permanently.
The trick here is to make full use of outsourcing to get in expertise but only when you need it.
Typically companies will outsource HR, Finance, Marketing and Legal leadership roles and only carry out the lower level work in-house.
This way they can access subject matter experts at a moment’s notice to work on specific projects but then stand the resources down when the work is complete.
Arguably one of the most boring parts of running your own business and as a consequence one of the most likely to be neglected, policies and procedures are actually really important.
Policies and procedures describe the way you run your business and how you want your employees to act.
Ignoring this can lead to dire consequences.
Imagine an employee downloading pornography onto work systems. You’d expect that it would be a simple matter to fire them however if you haven’t got an internet policy and a disciplinary procedure that states clearly that this is gross misconduct then you could find your business facing an employment tribunal.
Very often, companies that tender for work with larger businesses or public bodies will need to be able to show that they have a suite of policies around modern slavery, disaster recovery, environmental impact and many more meaning that you may need these before you can win the work that will grow your business.
So once you have planned your growth and got all of the background elements in place it comes time to actually grow your company.
Of course, many businesses grow perfectly well organically, but if you want to make a massive shift in size quickly, then these are some of the most common.
One of the easiest ways to instantly add sales is to make upselling part and parcel of your routine.
After all, you already have a customer and they are already committed to buying, so it makes sense to sell more or a better version to increase income.
A good example of this is when people book airline tickets. Once the customer has chosen their destination and date they are offered a wide array of extra services including better seats and a larger baggage allowance.
The good thing about upselling is that revenue earned in this way is essentially ‘free’ sales.
No extra advertising is needed, no extra marketing costs and little in the way of more operational expenses. It is simply a matter of asking at the point of sale whether the customer wishes to buy more.
Another good way of rapidly increasing revenue is to deliver the same goods and services through more channels.
If you are a retailer and you haven’t got an online shop then you really need to ask “why not?”.
In the same way, online-only businesses can look at having field sales reps for trade sales or opening a retail store in a suitable location.
One of the key benefits of this is that the more channels you have, the more likely you are to weather any storms that come your way.
Think about retailers who were instantly closed down during COVID lockdowns and you’ll see that having the added advantage of an already working online store proved a lifesaver in many cases.
Whilst on the subject of COVID, it is fair to say that many businesses have suffered greatly and you may find that some of your competitors have been put up for sale.
Add to that the fact that money is cheap at the moment with interest rates being at a historical low for some years and the availability of government investment incentives and you see that now may be a good time to go on the acquisition trail.
Acquisitions are never straightforward and it is rare for a company to realise the efficiency gains they expect but many global businesses have grown to huge size simply by buying up the opposition.
Every business has a value chain and normally they only capture a part of it.
An example here would be a wholesaler of cakes.
The value chain extends from the producers of the ingredients such as eggs, flour and butter, though the manufacturer of the cakes to the retailer who sells them to the end consumer.
The wholesaler only has a tiny part of this but by buying up parts of the value chain they can increase the size of their business markedly.
They could open up shops to sell to retail customers as well as their wholesale accounts.
Or they could buy a cake manufacturer and produce their own range which they would then sell in their wholesale operation.
In each of these cases, the original business captures a little more of the value chain which naturally grows their business but also gives them greater control.
Add on sales are, like upselling, almost “free money”.
Your customer has already decided to buy from you so why wouldn’t they buy a complementary product?
You can see this in operation at shoe shops where the sales assistant will endeavour to sell you some shoe protector spray, insoles or shoe trees when you go to buy.
But the same thing works in any business whether it is physical or digital goods or even services.
The mechanic that also offers car valeting, the carpet cleaner who also does ovens or the gardener who will also paint your shed are all examples of businesses that could add extra revenue by offering more.
In exactly the same way as upselling is an easy sale, an add on sale is simply using the opportunity of a customer committing to a purchase to offer them something else that they may need.
And in the same way, it costs nothing extra in terms of advertising or marketing which makes it incredibly lucrative.
If you want to scale your business then these tips will help you succeed.
They fall into three separate sections and you really can’t do one without the others.
First, you need to plan what you want to do, where you want to be and how you are going to get there.
Then you need to develop your business so that you have the foundations you need to cope with the growth.
Then you need to put your plans into action, whether that is opening new channels, offering new services or acquiring competitors.
The good news is that once you have been through a growth phase you’ll gain the experience and insight you need to do it all again meaning that you can grow your business over and over.
Good luck with your project.