Scaling your business is more complicated than it sounds. In fact, about 70% of corporate transformation efforts fail. But there’s a silver lining: There are steps you can take to improve your odds of success.
Forget steady growth along a nice, smooth runway. You’re eager for the rapid takeoff of your company. If all goes well, you’ll look back at 2023 as the year that your business scaled.
The only issue? Scaling is more complicated than it sounds. No matter how many get-rich-quick books and articles you read, you still need the right infrastructure, processes, and talent before you can go big time. Otherwise, your scaling effort could end up fizzling.
According to McKinsey & Co., about seven out of 10 corporate transformation efforts fall short of expectations. And scaling certainly falls into the “transformative” category. As McKinsey senior partner Jon Garcia asserts, “The transformation journey can be difficult, and well-intentioned efforts often get derailed or fall by the wayside before they even get off the ground.”
Sounds disheartening, right? There’s a silver lining, though: You can always take a few steps to improve your odds of success. Before going into full-throttle mode, ask yourself the following questions — and then correct any deficits you uncover.
- Is your marketing ready to handle exponential growth?
When you’re expanding rapidly, your marketing has to keep up. If it’s not ready for a sudden influx of leads, you could wind up with many prospects at the top of your sales funnel but far too few who stick around to become repeat customers.
To keep your marketing capabilities manageable, consider this advice from Ross Denny, co-founder and president of digital marketing firm Ezzey: “Without more leads, you can’t grow — case closed. So before you get into growth mode, you need to refine your marketing, from PPC to SEO and all the acronyms in between. Start by determining which marketing tactics are driving the most qualified prospects into the top or middle of your sales funnel. You want to hone those tactics, so start testing ways to make them produce leads on a reliable basis.”
Ensuring your marketing can absorb epic levels of traffic and interest will allow you to sleep better at night. Consequently, evaluate everything your marketing team does and the tools they use to find any potential limitations. Once found, derive solutions so those limitations don’t hamper your scaling efforts.
- Do you have the team you need to scale?
You’re not required to double your headcount just because you want to double your income. Nonetheless, you might have to adjust your team makeup before you can realistically scale.
Not convinced that your current team has enough capacity or knowledge to effectively flex as your organization does more business? Begin by upskilling. Harvard Business Review recently published an article outlining some of the biggest HR trends. Among them is the need for advanced employee training, especially for younger workers. Why? Approximately half of Gen Z employees admit they never learned the skills to work to their full potential.
Taking time to bring on new performers and improve the capabilities of your current team members will make certain that no one feels overwhelmed and underprepared. Plus, you can use upskilling and reskilling to identify future leaders, which helps you temper the unwanted fallout of turnover and quiet quitting.
- Is your tech stack scale-worthy?
Be honest: Are you and your colleagues working on stumbling, slow systems? Do you constantly grumble about your technologies, from software-as-a-service solutions to equipment? These problems will only become magnified as your organization blossoms.
Aaron Agius, co-founder and managing director of Louder.Online, counsels business leaders to evaluate all their tech before even dabbling with scaling: “It’s time to take a deep dive into the technology your company is using. … If it’s the most efficient, user-friendly, and cost-effective technology, keep it. If it isn’t, it might be time to make a switch. … You want the right infrastructure in place before you start scaling, not in the middle of your transformation.” Investing in technology will incur upfront costs. However, good tech choices will always pay off in the long run.
- Are your processes scalable?
Every business develops thousands upon thousands of standard processes. Some are scalable, but others are not. It’s up to you and your employees to look at all your typical workflows. Are they sustainable if you quickly grow? How can they be improved so you can absorb growth instead of buckling under the weight of too many things happening at once?
An example of a process that might not be scalable would be one that requires a lot of manual repetition, such as manually taking care of vendor invoices or writing down all customer service notes. These processes might run relatively smoothly now, but they can become stumbling blocks when you’re dealing with tons of invoices or customer calls. This is a place where automated practices can help. Research indicates that about 40% of worker time is wasted on repetitive duties. The more processes you can automate or streamline, the less they’ll become scaling roadblocks.
Reliable, constant growth isn’t a bad thing. But it’s understandable if you’d like to scale over the next year instead. Just be sure to put your company in a good place before stepping on the gas.
Written by Rhett Power.
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