As an early-stage entrepreneur, your eyes are always on the horizon, seeking out growth opportunities wherever they come. You have launched and got your business off the ground, BUT now it’s time to figure out how to grow it.
Growth is good, but growth isn’t always sustainable. That’s why we’re talking about scaling—growth that is deliberate, long term, and fully in your control.
To scale sustainably means going in with a plan and being prepared to handle any challenge that’s thrown your way. It’s the difference between getting a sudden spike in sales and every process falling apart, and getting a sudden spike in sales and handling every order smoothly with great customer service to boot.
It takes planning, expertise, and sometimes funding to get it done. We’ll walk you through how to craft an iron-clad plan for your future.
You should only take your business to the next step if you’re truly ready! Scaling up means your company is going to take more time, resources, and expertise. Scaling up is an exciting time, but you’ll need a level head to get it done in a way that’s sustainable for your business.
Are you ready to take on more strategic challenges? That could mean expanding your product lines or selling globally.
Will you be able to dedicate more time to your business without other parts of your life suffering?
Do you have the financial resources available that you’ll need?
Do you need outside help? You may be at a point where having someone else handle marketing or customer service would make your day easier.
Do you need more employees to get the work done? Struggling to make your business work with your current team—which might be a mighty team of one!—is a great sign that it’s time to scale up.
Are you having trouble keeping up with orders? Having a higher volume than your business is prepared to handle means falling behind on packaging and deliveries, customer service gaps, and a whole lot of stress for you.
Are you falling behind on inventory? If you’re constantly finding yourself sold out, with customers clamoring for restocks, it’s definitely time to scale up.
Lastly, some businesses are meant to be small businesses. It’s OK if you want your side hustle to remain a side hustle. It all comes down to your personal priorities, lifestyle, and financial situation.
There’s no one formula for scaling a business, because every business—and founder—has unique strengths and challenges. Scaling up a clothing business, for example, is going to look different from scaling up a skin care empire. But there are some common threads to consider:
1. Make a plan for your future
If your company started as a hobby, you may have just been going with the flow up until this point.
However, to scale sustainably, you need a business plan. It will not only help you understand your business, but it will be something you’ll need to show if you ever seek out outside investment.
There are different ways to format a business plan, but a basic one should include:
Management and organization
Products and services
Logistics and operations plan
In particular, you’ll be creating a strategic marketing plan, with a forecast for the future outlining your plans for growth. What’s a realistic revenue goal for a year from now? What about five years from now? What’s your plan for increasing your marketing capacity?
Nail down where your business is right now, as well as where you want your business to go. Use the resources below to get started and consider the next steps in scaling as you create your plan.
2. Evaluate your supply chain
Scaling up means a higher volume of sales and your supply chain needs to be equipped to handle that. What works right now might not work as well at scale.
3. Hire strategically
Scaling up means you may no longer be able to do everything yourself, or with whoever you’ve recruited so far to make your business work.
If hiring is part of your scaling strategy, you should hire where an extra person would be most effective. Employees are a major financial commitment, so they should be focus on an area that will bring in the most return.
4. Outsource for efficiency
If it doesn’t make sense to hire your own employee, there are ways to outsource tasks to streamline your business as you scale.
Whether hiring an agency or an employee, you should consider where you most need help. If you’re struggling with marketing a small business, it’s only going to get more challenging as you scale up. Decide what aspects of your business would benefit from expertise you don’t have and look into third-party services that can help you out.
5. Automate where you can
Getting things done faster or more efficiently at scale can be made easier with tools designed to automate your workflow.
Another example for streamlining customer service is using Shopify Inbox for communicating with customers. This tool allows you to utilize live chat—which we know is a fantastic way to increase conversions—in a way that keeps all your conversations in one place, allows for saved responses, and gives you metrics so you can track impact.
Food For Thought: Move from surviving daily to thriving daily
💡 One of the most common things experienced in my early stages of entrepreneurship was the feeling that I was moving through life and business in a “survival mode.” I was kept so busy with what I perceived to be non-negotiable responsibilities, that I felt there was limited time to create the life and business I wanted.
Falling into this trap is not a great way to succeed in the long term and only instigates a survival mode. How do we then move from surviving to thriving, especially if we may feel alone during our journey❓
✅ Keeping our eyes on our own path is important. This means being specific about our goals and outcomes, and focused on our behaviours to attaining it and WHY we need to attain it…
✅ Applying this same WHY to our introspection daily activities and routines will guide us in understanding whether our routines and emotions are limited with joy and fulfilment. In this way, we then understand what things we need to change (in order for the things around us to change) i.e. perception and reality
✅ Remember, it is OK to survive only, but more importantly it is important to thrive in anything we do. Therefore, how we shift our focus to flip the odds in our favour entails moving our mindset towards growth and opportunity, so we emerge stronger especially during uncertain times.
✅ Lastly, practice the activation of the vagus nerve especially when feeling stressed, triggered or overwhelmed. This can be done through 6 deep breaths (in for 6 seconds, out for 12 seconds) every 2 to 3 hours. High-flying people use these techniques to help them deal with any perceived stress and fear, so they can succeed and flourish.
💡 Ever thought of the mind like a computer (hardware) that has a software installed in it which is continuously being upgraded by the thoughts we generate daily❓
If not, then know, that it is exactly that… and the most critical aspect is we are in control of that software…
✅ How we program our minds, determines how we function in life i.e. someone can have the most expensive, powerful computer, but if they put the wrong software in it, it’s will not perform up to par.
✅ In the same way, if we are not living a victorious life or our businesses are not flourishing to the level we expect them to be, most times (more often than not), it is not because our hardware is defective, but rather our software may have become contaminated.
✅ Lastly, be consciously aware of the negative things other people speak, and ensure those words are not seeds planted in our garden… cause if we dwell on them long enough, they’ll take root and become a reality…
💡 Ask all the successful people in the world what instances spurred their biggest growth in life and business, and I’ll bet most of those stories will fall under the umbrella of “mistakes.” And the bigger the mistakes, the more learning (and benefit) they probably are like to story tell in the long-term.
So, if we feel regret for the mistakes we’ve made in life, then the first action point is to STOP the regret pill immediately❗️ WHY, many may ask❓
✅ Mistakes are a wealth of knowledge one would NOT previously have had in the library had that experience not been lived through.
✅ Mistakes are often a re-direction to a better pathway for achieving success and our ultimate goals and objectives. Sure, failure stings, but when the sting wears off, we find ourselves more open to the feedback of the experience (hence the saying, “There is no failure, only feedback.”)
✅ And therefore, how we manage our mistakes and lessons learnt from it is more important for a #futuristic visionary VS an individual who dwells and holds onto the past (while trying to move forward)
✅ Remember, we are all human, and life will never be perfect❗️ If everything, every time, went according to plan, life would be boring. Mistakes keep us open to a larger picture, focused on expansion rather than perfection. They might disappoint us in the moment but ultimately remind us of the overarching design we’re aiming for.
💡 “I have no motivation today…” Hands up if you’ve ever said that to yourself or a friend during the work week whilst having tight deadlines to meet in business (or anything)❓
I know I have…and guess what, it’s completely normal to feel unmotivated at times, especially when we see a mountain in front us versus a hill in light of our end goal.
The next time you feel this way, remember the following:
✅ Tiny steps are required when shooting for the moon – small wins build motivation. But, this doesn’t mean we simply tick off to-dos or answer emails and feel motivated to push on.
✅ Rather, its about being crystal clear with our end goal and ensuring we are productively achieving measurable outcomes considering those goals.
✅ Connecting our emotions to our end goals helps us understand our purpose for achievement e.g. if you been itching to start a business, but don’t know WHY you want to do it, identifying with that emotional connection opens up a reason for us to push through when we may lack motivation
✅ Lastly, building a daily routine where we use our most productive hours to make progress on something we’ve been putting off, can help drive us through the rest of the day.