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Scaling has always been among the main challenges a growing business faces. Having a piling number of clients, working business strategy and great quality services and products, constitute a fine premice towards expanding your business, but how to actually successfully scale your business, and how to do it fast enough as not to lose your momentum?
Our founder and managing partner, Terry Tateossian, gives her take on the subject along with a number of selected entrepreneurs in the article below. You could read her opinion under number 7. Automate Your Processes
(The Expert Panel was initially published at Forbes.)
While it’s not a common thing, some businesses do explode into popularity overnight. For the companies that do, it can be a completely new landscape to navigate. Suddenly, consumers want your product and they can’t get enough of it. Your supply lines and logistics may not be able to handle the traffic at its new demanding level.
Successful businesses always prepare for the possibility of growth. Still, so much expansion in such a small span of time can leave a company reeling and result in unsatisfied customers. So how should a company approach newfound success? Below, nine leaders from Young Entrepreneur Council discuss how a company can scale up to meet demand following sudden success that thrusts the business into the spotlight.
1. Have Repeatable, Predictable Processes
At Virti we scaled up by over 1,000% in an eight-month period. This was exciting, but keeping up with demand meant we had to scale our team, processes and infrastructure in a short amount of time. The best piece of advice I received on scaling was to ensure all processes were in place, were repeatable and were predictable before aggressively scaling up teams. At early-stage companies it can be difficult to find the time to write down your processes in an easy-to-understand way. If you are explaining things more than once, you need a process that is documented and driven by data, and sitting in team playbooks or your company knowledge area. – Alexander Young, Virti
2. Be Aware Of Your Limits As A Company
I would go with being self-aware of your limits as a company. How many additional staff can you hire while maintaining product cost and quality? What is the manufacturing capacity of your product and how much demand can it accommodate before costs spiral out of control? What are your logistical options? These are questions you must answer before you make a decision on how to approach buyers. But regardless of what you find, be honest with customers. Many times, they understand there has been a sudden surge in demand for your goods and services. It’s much better to lower their expectations to meet the reality on the ground instead of making a promise and failing to deliver. There’s potential to scale—you just don’t want to be on the wrong side of it. – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS
3. Outsource And Build A Team
When your company starts to grow rapidly and you need to quickly scale, it is important to do two things: outsource and build a team. You can outsource certain tasks or products and at the same time start to build a team. Financially, it is usually cheaper to outsource short term and it can be done faster. Building a team is important, but not something that you want to rush. You want to make sure you have the right people on your team. Once you have more people involved, you can produce products or services and provide customer service at a much faster pace. This will allow you to grow your company in a short amount of time. – Lisa Collum, Top Score Writing
4. Check Your Finances And Update Your Goals
It’s important to ensure that your finances are healthy before you start scaling your business. If they aren’t, try finding an investor. You can also change your focus to match your new goals. For example, if you’ve been focused on generating new customers, you can change your goal to retaining your customers and building your brand. Your business is growing and you won’t need to focus as much on bringing in new customers; therefore, you can utilize the marketing funds to retain your customers instead. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
5. Leverage Your Partnerships
Managing growth can be one of the most difficult hurdles for a startup, and viral growth makes this more complicated. Startups should focus on leveraging their partnerships as much as possible. This can apply to all parts of company operations, from raw materials procurement to order fulfillment, and can extend to digital marketing and customer service, among other things. Startup teams need to remember that things such as “make versus buy” decisions can evolve over time. What’s most important is that your company is able to withstand supply chain stress caused by demand and deliver consistent quality to your growing customer base. By focusing on what your startup does best and empowering your supply chain partners, you’ll be in the best position possible to respond to viral growth. – Charles Bogoian, Kenai Sports
6. Network With Notable Industry Figures
Becoming a viral success is a bit like getting struck by lightning: it’s rare and often leaves you motionless. To capitalize on a surge of popularity and attention, I recommend networking with notable figures in your industry quickly. Try and reach out to them when you’re at the height of your popularity and the chances of them responding will also be at their highest. Once you’ve got your foot in the door, it’s a great way to maintain your momentum and potentially set up further growth opportunities after your viral success starts to wear off and people jump on a new trend. – Bryce Welker, CPA Exam Guy
7. Automate Your Processes
Automation is the mother of scalability. A streamlined approach to your operational process doesn’t hurt either. The more time you spend ironing out the kinks of your internal structure, the easier it will be to 10x your business. An overlooked aspect to scaling quickly is hiring and training your employees. This can be a significant drawback when a specialization is required or when employees need to learn how to operate highly technical equipment or machinery. Many times, digital media can help, like video tutorials or carefully structured employee onboarding experiences. Whatever the scenario, a business gone viral is an entrepreneurial dream, so have no fear and just push forward to “MacGyver” the problem the best you can. – Terry Tateossian, Socialfix Media
8. Focus On Your Core Competencies
The best way to quickly scale your business is to focus on the core competencies. This will help you keep up with the growing demand in the market. Don’t be afraid of embracing new technologies. Instead of randomly hiring too many people, find out if things can be handled without going on a hiring spree right away. It’s also important to have available resources before you start scaling your business. – Josh Kohlbach, Wholesale Suite
9. Partner Up With Your Competitors
Partner with other brands in your industry. Competitors don’t necessarily need to be adversarial. Many are willing to lend a hand knowing that you’ll be in a better position to return the favor later. They may offer introductions to new vendors, suggestions for optimizing your supply chain or even advice on how to handle customer service during this unexpected spike in sales. Ultimately, you’ll want to remember that there are plenty of resources available so you don’t have to struggle through this unexpected growth spurt alone. – Firas Kittaneh, Zoma Mattress