Top tips to scaling

As with everything about starting a business, different people do it for different reasons, and they have different levels of ambition. Some people want it to remain a side hustle or a very modest lifestyle business whilst others have plans from day one to scale and grow it into a multi-million GBP international operation.

Given the above, ‘scaling’ can also mean very different things, as it can mean taking on a single employee, or it can mean expanding internationally and buying out a rival business. But, in general, many of the top tips are the same in principal whatever the scale of the implementation. There is very good reason for this as sound business principals are also very often the same irrespective of the size of the business.

Here are some top tips to scaling your business:

  • Time Management – Running any business, but especially a growing one, is likely to mean that there is always too much to do and too little time. It is crucial, therefore, that you work smart and manage all time as effectively as possible. Different people do this in different ways but finding something that works for you will greatly increase productivity.
  • Systems and Procedures – Large scale businesses could not operate without having detailed and sophisticated systems and procedures in place. Whilst a smaller business is of course simpler to run, having good systems and procedures in place will, nevertheless, lead to a more streamlined and efficient operation and one that is less prone to make errors. Put systems in place from the outset as it is much easier and cheaper to do this with a small business than to wait and do it later.
  • Finance – Any growing business consumes cash as it is typical that there is a time lag between costs associated with scaling and any income being earned from a larger operation and, for many businesses, this means that there is a need to raise finance. Most founders underestimate the amount of time and effort it takes to raise finance and so often leave starting the process much later than is ideal. Make sure that you leave plenty of time and have a long enough cash runway for the business to survive in the meantime, and also make sure that whatever amount raised is sufficient for your plans in the foreseeable future.
  • Timing – As well as getting the timing right for raising finance it is also important to make sure that the timing is right in the life of the business. Too soon and it will not be possible to raise the amount of finance required to achieve all that is wanted, and too late and the business will already have foregone some the better growth opportunities. With some business sectors it is imperative that the business scales rapidly in order to ensure that they stay ahead or, at least, keep up with the competition, whilst in other sectors scaling is more about taking market share from an existing market and speed is less important.
  • Staffing – As the business grows then so too does the level of staffing. Not only is it important to ensure that the total number of staff grows in line with the size of the business but, even more importantly, it is essential that the senior management team size and capabilities also stay ahead of all the other requirements of scaling.
  • Premises – Depending on the activities of your business it is almost inevitable that as the operation scales your business will need to take on more space, whether that is office, retail, manufacturing, or storage space. As with so many things it is important to ensure that this is done at the right time and early enough to ensure that it does not restrict any growth opportunities.

Not only are all of the above tips relevant to all businesses looking to scale, whatever the size, but they also all share an element of ‘the sooner the better’. Like everything in business then, doing the right things at the right time will make all the difference to your business whether this is scaling it successfully or any other aspect of helping it to grow and prosper.