A few years ago, being an entrepreneur was the big thing. You no longer were “working for the man” and instead decided to join the startup life. It would be a grind, but through hard work and perseverance — plus a great idea — you would soon be free from the shackles of the 9-to-5 world.
That alone doesn’t really blow people’s hair back anymore. Today, it’s all about scaling. A new company with just a few people toiling away at a dream until an actual path to growth emerges is, in a way, the new normal. This is why many of the best incubators and accelerators have turned their attention to teaching budding executives how to scale rather than how to start.
But how do you do it? Well, if it was easy, everyone would have their own company with millions of customers. There’s simply no secret to getting there. However, there are a few key challenges that everyone faces, and some proven strategies have emerged to overcome these hurdles. Even after implementing the following advice, you may not have the next AirBnB or Uber on your hands. But, you’ll be able to better focus on what needs to happen to grow your business.
Costs Go Up
The larger your business becomes, the more money and customers you will have. This is phenomenal news — the very thing you have been fighting day in and day out to create.
But costs may start to skyrocket as well. More services plus more employees plus more office space all cost more money. Hopefully your costs aren’t escalating at the same rate as your revenue, because no business wants to see their profitability gravely affected.
Even if that’s not the case, you’ll still need to start trimming costs where you can. Integrating cloud-based solutions that house data and other important business tools is a key way to free up some high-dollar IT expenses. Many companies now realize that employing IT-as-a-service is one of the easiest ways to rid yourself of non-critical staff and operations.
Depending upon the nature of your business — and your tech savviness — it may make sense to maintain more control. Never outsource something that’s essential to your business model or represents your competitive advantage. But for lower-tech companies, now is the time to move as much of this as you can to a cloud-based provider.
Customer service is critical to any company’s efforts to grow. But the catch-22 is that it also isn’t core to the innovative business model that you’re trying to get off the ground. So the best solution is a mix between using third-party technology to ease some of the burden along with maintaining some control over how the forward-facing representative of the company operates.
Interactive voice response is a smart way to automate everyday customer interactions and free up your team to handle the important work necessary to scale. The application even allows customers to resolve more complex issues with a live agent when necessary.
With the best services, you can employ omnichannel support — through text messages, mobile web and even kiosk self-service — without dedicating a mass sum of money. By working with the cloud-based provider to determine which features will best suit your business, you can ensure that any third-party support is both professional and suited to your brand.
When you start out and only employ a dozen people, there may be little need for a complex organizational tree. Even as you grow, your company culture may not support some MBA-approved method of hiring and role assignment that looks like a Sears or RadioShack hierarchy from the 1980s.
But you will need some more structure. Oversight, meetings, planning and every aspect of operations will need to be a bit more formalized. Not everyone can report to one boss anymore.
So while you don’t want to snuff out the creativity and free-spirited attitude that helped get the creative juices flowing, nor squelch the camaraderie and team-focused culture that makes everyone pour everything they have into the venture, you do need to switch gears toward proven management strategies. Leadership, like everything you do over time, needs to adapt.