As a small business owner, you probably know by now that growth is the defining metric to watch. Year in and year out, if the growth ticker does not nudge upwards then it’s quite possible your business is in jeopardy.
So, what is the most important factor in determining growth? An ability to scale up operations. If you cannot scale up your business, you are confining yourself to limited growth, consistently. If the revenue from expansion is less than overall cost, after a limited period of time, something must change in your business model.
What we know for sure is that the old model of growth does not work in the digital economy. The old growth model went something like this: a firm gains a few new clients, so they hire a few more staff, thus adding cost at the same rate as they add revenue.
This model no longer works in the digital economy for two main reasons…
- Changing Nature of Hiring. Business owners need to take a long hard look at their costs and figure out how to maximize skill while minimizing expense. Businesses without a brick and mortar location have far less to worry about here, although a similar comparison could be made between marketing cost and revenue. Do they match up in your favor? If not, then it’s time to hire a different marketing team.
- Changing Nature of Costs. Small business owners must spend far more money on digital marketing than ever before. But digital marketing can be done strategically in ways that save money and ensure the same results: scaling up operations.
What Does a Growth Strategy Look Like in 2017?
Focus on Training, Not New Hires
For example, let’s say your business is ready to scale up, but projected labor costs are just too high. From the perspective of use-value, a more effective solution would be to train and compensate existing staff to be more competent and capable (and thus more efficient). Sure, there will be a cost involved there as well, but you will have made it possible to scale your business up and keep the accompanying rise in labor cost to a minimum.
If you do make some new hires, make sure you have a strong leadership structure in place beforehand so that employees are held accountable and remain strong contributors week in and week out.
Refine Your System, Don’t Expand It
Another misconception about scaling up is that you will need to change your whole operation. Not the case.
However, you will need to refine your internal communication channels so that the entire team functions better. Do you have a ‘system’? It will be very hard to scale up without one.
Take advantage of the many programs available for internal business communications, and formalize a structure that has space for growth. These systems are great because they allow for clearly defined roles and the potential for large team projects.
Formalizing a structure will mean everyone is on the same page as you grow, so that you are not playing catch-up as growth starts to materialize. It means you have planned for it and your team can take it all in stride – and that’s one of the most important keys to scaling up in a seamless fashion.