Your big idea has become a reality: you’ve secured investors, you’re in production, and your customer base is growing. It’s all happening quickly, and you don’t want to lose momentum. Is it time to scale?
This is an important decision: if you scale before you’re ready or scale too quickly, you might fail completely; if you scale too slowly or not at all, you may miss opportunities or have a competitor get the jump on you.
Ideally, you should have a mentor who can help you understand whether or not you’re ready, and then guide you through the process. (To learn more about the importance of mentors, read our article here: https://innov8logan.com.au/news-innovator/finding-a-mentor-its-a-bit-like-dating/).
We’ve researched what the experts are saying and have compiled the top five things to think about before you scale. Much of this advice might seem obvious, but sometimes we lose sight of the forest when we’re busy planting trees.
Note: The below is general advice. All startups are different, so think about what works best for your product, business model and goals.
Top 5 tips for scaling a startup:
1. Pulse check: Make sure your business is actually scalable.
Do you need to scale? Be honest with yourself. There’s nothing wrong with staying small and lean if your product or service demands it. But if it’s global domination you’re after, make sure you’re solving a universal problem; something that transcends languages and cultural barriers.
2. Track internal operations and metrics – know your data
You should be scaling based on the data, not speculation. That means you need to understand:
- how customers move through your sales funnel
- how long it takes to convert
- how long they remain a customer
- what causes them to leave/stay
- how they engage with you
- what attracts their attention
- what the biggest complaints or issues with your product/service are
- what they love about you.
3. If you have more than one product, know which one you want to scale
Yes, you may have a number of awesome products, but consider scaling the one most likely to succeed, based on market research, customer feedback, projected return on investment etc. (all those things you needed to know when you first started).
4. Automate or outsource what you can and don’t spend unnecessary funds
It’s easy to get tied up in activities that are not your core business or competencies, such as design, marketing, legal advice etc. Try to outsource as much of those functions as you can, so that your team is free to focus on your product. The same goes with manufacturing processes. Do you need to do it all yourself? Can you streamline, automate and/or outsource those processes? Once you’ve scaled to where you want to be, you can always bring those functions back in-house if that’s your preference. The key is to stay lean during the scaling process.
5. Find mentors who can help train your staff
While the previous advice is about minimising unnecessary spending, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in your team to improve their core skills. A great way to do that is via mentors who understand your business. Involve your team in identifying where the gaps are. This will help strengthen their sense of worth and engagement in your business and encourage team collaboration and loyalty.
Sources and further reading:
- 5 Important Tips for Scaling Your Start Up: coxblue.com/5-important-tips-for-scaling-your-startup/
- Growing pains: Advice for startups to scale your customer support: smartcompany.com.au/partner-content/articles/advice-for-startups-scale-your-customer-support/
- Planning to scale your startup? 5 tips to do it right: iqvis.com/blog/startup-scaling-strategy-tips/
- 5 tips to scale your business this year with a limited budget: bizjournals.com/bizjournals/how-to/technology/2018/06/5-tips-to-scale-your-business-this-year-with-a.html
- The Dos and Don’ts of Rapid Scaling for Startups: https://firstround.com/review/The-Dos-and-Donts-of-Rapid-Scaling-for-Startups/
- 9 tips on how to scale your business from successful entrepreneurs: https://blog.wagepoint.com/all-content/9-tips-on-how-to-scale-your-business-from-successful-entrepreneurs
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