Last Update: December 3, 2015
Often you’ll hear experts tell you that in order to grow your business you have to be able to scale. But what does it really mean? In layman’s terms, you should begin with the end in mind. While, you may not be a fortune 500 company today who knows where you will be tomorrow.
If you are ready to serve one customer today; can you easily serve one hundred or one thousand? Scaling business operations is the best way to manage and preclude customary pain points associated with fast growth. Here are six tips you can implement in the next 30 days to prepare for expansion.
1. Review and renegotiate supplier contracts.
Take a look at previous spending across various operations. Was it up or down? If so, take this into account when developing next year’s forecasts. Work with suppliers to lock in annual rates at various spending or volume levels, so you are equipped to handle fluctuations in business should they occur.
2. Streamline customer facing communications.
How do customers keep in contact with your business? Are you managing the daily aspects in-house or outsourcing a large majority of your customer service functions? Create a basic flowchart using Microsoft Visio and trouble shoot for bottlenecks. You may serve 100 customers today, but you’ll never adequately serve one thousand if you aren’t prepared.
3. Refocus product development and refine your service offering.
Product development seems to never actually end. As your business grows you’ll learn new ways to improve and maximize your product’s (or service) market potential. Can you scale adequately with the existing relationships you have in place? Pull together a few forecasts and scenarios, run them past all parties involved in product development and gauge your teams’ agility.
4. Recruit a team that aligns with your long-term vision.
If you foresee your business needs changing within the next 12-months, develop a high-level staffing plan to assess the needs and fill the gaps. Evaluate everyone’s primary function and productivity, factor in seasonality for busy periods, and determine the number of new hires and interns you’ll need to bring in to meet your sales forecasts for the upcoming year.
5. Audit your business model.
How your organization creates and delivers value – and ultimately generates revenue will evolve over time. Just when you think the model you currently ascribe to is unparalleled, you’ll soon realize that you can maximize profits in a new way. There are a million and one ways to make money and most successful business models are based on proven success, detailed analytics, metrics accountability and testing.
Today’s way may not be the best way. Brainstorm new models to test, define success metrics and examine your findings. And if you’re unclear on what your business model truly is – closely examine your profit motive, the tangible value you deliver and the expected revenue you’ll generate.
6. Reinvest aggressively.
It takes money to make money. How do you plan to drive aggressive expansion next month, next quarter or even next year? Reinvest in your business until it can sustain itself. This could mean setting aside a larger percentage of sales to fuel the growth of a new initiative. Better yet, maybe you’ve already experienced growth and you’re ready to bring in angel investors?
Whatever the case may be – take a serious look at your operating budget. Find out what it truly costs to run your business, make necessary cutbacks where needed and increase spending support in promising areas.
Developing operational leverage will help you prepare for growth or cutbacks. In order to get the ball rolling, delegate each task to a team member, share the strategic vision and oversee the tactical details. Scaling your company is not as hard as you may think and it’s worth the time investment in the long run.
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