Making the decision to grow your business is a big deal – It means a lot of things, from setting the stage to enable and support growth in your company, to having the ability to grow without being hampered. It requires planning, investments, some funding and the right systems, staff, processes, technology and partners.
These 5 critical steps will arm you with the knowledge you need to scale up your business. See below.
Evaluate and Plan
Take a hard look inside your business to see if you are ready for growth. You can’t know what to do differently unless you take stock of where your business stands today. Strategize what you need to do to increase sales. Then assume your orders doubled or tripled overnight. Does your organization have the people and systems to handle those new orders, without failing or getting a big black eye? This is where a good plan is essential.
The best planning starts with a detailed sales growth forecast, broken down by number of new customers, orders and revenue you want to generate. Include a spreadsheet that breaks the numbers down by month. The more specific you are, the more realistic your sales acquisition plan can be. Then do a similar expense forecast, based on adding technology, people, infrastructure and systems to handle all those new sales orders. Look at every item on your current P&L to see how it might be impacted. Expenses will go up — you have to anticipate where and how. Again, include an expense spreadsheet that breaks down expenses needed to meet your sales forecast.
Try to think of everything. You’ll need to do some hard thinking and research to come up with proper cost estimates, but doing so will make your plan better.
Find the Money
Scaling a business doesn’t come free. Your growth plan may call for getting a course that teaches the processes behind growth, hiring staff, deploying new technology, adding equipment and facilities, and creating reporting systems to measure and manage results. How will you find the money to invest for growth? Start looking out for business grants, it is also helpful to identify potential bank funds to accelerate growth such as a loan or a line of credit to draw on – start with how much you’ll need. And get started applying.
Secure the Sales
Scaling your business obviously assumes you will sell more. Do you have the sales structure in place to generate more sales? Look at sales from end to end. Do you have:
- A sufficient lead flow to generate the desired number of leads?
- Marketing systems to track and manage leads?
- Enough sales representatives to follow up and close leads?
- A robust system to manage sales orders?
- A billing system and a receivables function to follow up to ensure invoices are collected timely?
Invest in Courses and Technology
Whether you want to expand your skills or start a small business, you will need additional training. With business courses you get to learn skills needed for growth. Like Teamwork, problem solving, management and the use of certain technology that makes it easier and less expensive to scale a business. You can gain huge economies of scale and more through put, with less labor, if you invest wisely in courses and technology. A business course that covers a lot, will improve your small business skills. Knowing how to operate, read and implement these skills will increase the efficiency of your small business and possibly your business profits.
Find Staff or Strategically Outsource
Lastly, you need sturdy hands to carry out the work. Technology gives huge leverage, but at the end of the day you still need people. Some questions worth pondering over:
- Do you have enough customer service staff? Look at industry benchmarks to determine a rule of thumb for how many customers one service rep can be expected to handle.
- What about the people who are responsible for your manufacturing, inventory and delivery of product or services? How many are typical for your industry per customer, and how many will you need?
- How do you find qualified help quickly? Recruiting and hiring systems are important, as are benefits and payroll.
- Don’t forget management. The importance of a management bench grows as your business grows. You won’t be able to oversee everything.
Sometimes, the answer is to outsource or look to partners, rather than hire internally. Scaling requires that you make tough choices.
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