Are you ready to scale? Every entrepreneur dreams of expanding their organization, but few have the ability to pull it off. Luckily, there are ways to scale your startup without exposing yourself to too much risk.
Scaling a startup can be as difficult a process as starting a startup in the first place. However, there are a few key things that can be done to make the scaling process make sense. The most important thing any startup should do is research, research, and more research.
Research other businesses to find out how they handle the scaling process and what they do to prepare. Research the audience to find out what they specifically want out of a product, and for what price. Research your own business to find out what can be improved and where changes can be made.
But research alone won’t save your scaling dreams. You’ll need a few more strategies to improve your chances of success.
Research your best options
There’s no one size fits all solution. Scaling is hard work and requires a nuanced approach. So, it goes without saying that scaling the smart way involves loads and loads of research. Your startup is unique and therefore has unique needs. In addition, how much you want to grow and how quickly you want to grow affects how you should go about scaling your operations.
Here are a few ways to kickstart your research:
- Revisit your marketing plan
- Revisit your business plan
- Gather business intelligence
- Survey your customers
- Research alternative working arrangements (like remote work)
- Explore freelance networks
Set realistic expectations
Scaling is an exciting proposition. All startups dream of becoming bigger, but only a small fraction of businesses end up making the cut. So while you may have big aspirations, it’s good to set small goals. Rather than expanding rapidly and in an untenable manner, take it slow and stay cautious of overspending.
A chief mistake amongst those startups who fail to scale is that they don’t set realistic expectations for their product. Companies with a few employees and an eccentric leader can find themselves in quite the predicament once reality comes rolling in. That is why it is essential to keep expectations in check and budgets tight with everyone involved, even investors.
Keep costs in control
Setting realistic expectations is one way you can keep costs under control. There are other strategies as well. Earlier we mentioned alternative working arrangements. This could mean that you leverage a freelance marketplace or you decide to hire a remote worker or that you lean on an experienced consultant who bills you only a few hours a week.
There are many strategies for reducing costs and you shouldn’t shy away from creative solutions. Try hiring a remote consultant instead of a full-time manager (if your budget doesn’t allow full-time premium talent), employ agile techniques to improve productivity, and take steps to optimize your internal operations.
You never want to stop being the principal researcher of your own company. Scaling a startup requires numbers and estimates, but it is also a game of expectations. The human element raises its ugly head from time to time to condemn products to the dustbin before they can be realized. This happens through unrealistic expectations and even wilder budgets.
Startups who promise too much with too little are often found out before they can cash out. Avoid that trap altogether by creating a budget that is reflective of reality and your product.
Startups who attempt to scale off the cuff are almost always doomed to failure. In order to avoid falling down and staying down, consider hiring an experienced manager to help with the scaling process. Scaling a startup can be a confusing ordeal given its many considerations and offshoots. Hiring an experienced manager or leader will give your startup the guidance needed to successfully scale.
Most critically, it is important not to scale too fast or too soon. Startups who jump the gun are almost always found in some type of issue, either monetary or reputationally. Remember to take it slow and easy to ensure that the startup isn’t too disrupted by the move. Scaling a company can be a heart-racing panic or a carefully executed plan, regardless, with these tips, your startup will be sure to scale successfully.
Lisa Froelings is a business and productivity consultant with over 4 years of experience in human resources working for a major retailer in the country before she decided to build her own business. Her interests include technology, mindfulness as well as time management.