Whether your business is in its early stages or established and ready for growth, making it scalable is more easily achieved with some forward planning and putting things in place in advance of when you might need them.
If you’re looking for funding then just about all potential investors look for a business that is scalable – in other words an enterprise that can grow and increase revenue and profits with a minimum of further costs.
How can this be achieved?
Systems that can grow with the business
Flexible systems that can automate everyday activities and adapt and grow as your business scales should be put in place sooner rather than later. For example, modern financial software to take care of routine accounting and tax paperwork can help a fledgling business work efficiently both in its early days when small and as it scales by adding further features and add-ons to.
It’s hugely disruptive in having to completely change to systems more able to handle the demands of a larger business when scaling is underway. It’s far better to plan ahead and deploy systems that can adapt and grow with the business.
Succession and planning for an exit
Thinking of selling up might feel odd when thinking in ‘start up and development’ mode, but thinking as if you’re selling is a very good way of checking how scalable your business really is.
For example, if your business can’t function without you in charge then it’s important to ensure other staff are developed so they could assume your roles – or if not consider recruiting suitably skilled people.
For scalability it’s important you move from working ‘in’ to working ‘on’ your business.
Be prepared to embrace change
You may need to make changes to your business model to grow and develop, so being open to change is a key to scalability.
For example, while you may have got started by selling several different products into your target market, your particular business type may make it more prudent to focus on a smaller number.
Maybe the opposite is true; if you have just one or two products then widening the focus may be needed for scalability. Perhaps in order to scale you need to break into new or associated market segments.
Being resistant to change can potentially block scaling opportunities.
Getting feedback from customers and staff
What direction you take in order to scale will likely be dictated by customer demand. Be alive to changing needs not only to continue serving your market but in spotting opportunities to capitalise and make the most of them.
Staff feedback can help: what would make their job easier and improve efficiency?
It’s so easy to get immersed in the day to day when a business is smaller, but looking ahead and taking time to gain and analyse feedback can pay dividends when looking to scale.
Draw up a business plan to attract investors
If, as may be likely, scaling your business involves attracting investment then ensure your business plan will appeal to them and ‘press the right buttons’.
Understanding what investors look for is vital, so your business plan should demonstrate your business is a good choice for them to put their money – and perhaps their time and trouble – into.
Properly answering the question “what problem does your market have and how do you solve it?” is the cornerstone of a good business plan and, as said earlier, pretty much all investors look for evidence of a scalable business to invest in.