Humans are known to be insatiable – never content with what we have, always trying to get more. It is this very desire that also drives us to bring out the best in ourselves and achieve the seemingly impossible.
However, small businesses often have to bear with naysayers telling them to be content with what they have. Friends and family will warn against investing in new opportunities because of the risks. Although this principle of contentment works for most of us in our personal lives, it can be crippling to emerging businesses and the entrepreneurial mindset.
As leaders and decision-makers, in order for our businesses to survive and grow, we need to be prepared to explore unconventional and innovative options and willing to pivot from the security of structured forecasts and plans. Here are some tips to minimize risks while scaling your operations.
1. Have a plan in place.
Despite the importance of leaving your safety net, planning isn’t the enemy. In fact, even pivoting from plans successfully requires new or alternate plans. That holds true for the strategic scaling of businesses. Having a plan of action in hand will make it easier to maintain your quality performance and implement new operations as you scale up, while minimizing your vulnerability to risks and losses. A good starting point would be to identify all barriers that could hinder your growth so that you can plan how to avoid or overcome them.
2. Know your customers.
Your customers are the determinants of your success. Ensure that your customer service quality is undisturbed while you scale your business. It helps to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and consider how actions in your business scaling plan would affect you if it were a business you patronize. You don’t need to restructure your whole business model to keep your customers happy; as long as you anticipate their needs at each stage of the process, they can become your biggest brand ambassadors and maximize your returns.
3. Spend time wisely.
When it comes to expanding your firm (and keeping that expansion in check), the cliche is true: Time is money. Make sure all activities for scaling and growth are timebound.
More often than not, unanticipated urgent tasks tend to pick the worst times, like during expansion and scaling, to present themselves. To make sure that your team remains efficient throughout the process – and can accommodate last-minute changes or deviations in schedules and tasks – make use of time management tools and strategies to get the best out of the time you have.
Train your team to develop time management skills. You have many applications and software programs to choose from to make sure your company’s time is well spent, including Microsoft Project, ClickUp and TaskQue.
4. Consider big data.
Big data refers to the process of analyzing large and varied amounts of data in great detail to expose specific information, like market trends, customer preferences, hidden patterns and unknown correlations. It allows you to make informed decisions on the dimensions of your expansion.
A comprehensive understanding of big data and its usage can help you avoid losses and make better decisions for your business scaling and growth. It can also be useful for identifying and eliminating underlying bottlenecks to your operations, thereby increasing internal efficiency.
5. Anticipate the adjustment pace.
No matter how prepared you feel, any change in an organization will require a period of adjustment for the rest of your team. Give them time to recognize the need for change and accept the challenges that this opportunity provides. More importantly, they need time to understand their roles in the bigger picture of your organization’s plans to scale and figure out how they can make the most of their skill sets and add value to the company. Make sure to consider adjustment protocols, and allocate a reasonable time period for such adjustments in your scaling plans and process.
Large corporations usually have change leaders in place to determine practical plans and execute systematic implementation. Predicting the pace of your company’s adaption to change will require an in-depth understanding of your team. Sometimes the best way is to consult and negotiate with your team on your plans to scale. Welcome feedback and concerns from them, encouraging open channels of communication to better understand their points of view. This will help you anticipate their adjustment pace and garner their support in your expansion.
6. Know your team.
One opportunity that comes with scaling operations is the ability to identify weak links in your organization. While it’s important to consider your team’s feedback and opinions about when and how you should scale, it’s equally important to monitor their performance while the scaling takes place. Scaling up with a team that’s highly resistant to change isn’t likely to result in much progress; it could actually be counterproductive.
This process will often provide insights into your people’s capacities, skills and character that can be useful for making decisions about the company’s future and maximizing your growing organization’s potential. By having a clear understanding of your people, organizational values and customers’ expectations, you’ll be in a better position to decide when to scale and how to go about it.
7. Hire dependable managers.
It’s no secret that a team’s performance is a reflection of its leadership. Any increase in operations and production will necessitate an expansion of your team at one point or another. When this happens, you’ll want dependable leaders who believe in your long-term vision and have your back.
Hire people you can trust with your brand and who can live up to their responsibilities. It helps to reward people at all rungs of the ladder for their ability to take ownership of ideas and tasks. During company crises and times of change, you count on people who not only get the job done, but also understand the importance of your vision and go the extra mile to bring it to life.
8. Decentralize and automate.
It isn’t easy to hand over something you’ve built from scratch to another person, no matter how skilled they might be. Unfortunately, the successful scaling of a business often requires a bit of decentralization and automation. Despite the difficulty it entails for new entrepreneurs, it facilitates business growth and enables decision-makers to focus on strategic objectives. By showing your team that you trust their insights and decisions, you reinforce the idea that your business is the right place for them to grow and pursue a long-term career plan.
Likewise, by taking advantage of automation tools, you’ll be able to spend more time and money on more productive activities, rather than stressing over carrying out minor repetitive tasks. The idea is to automate daily processes, such as social media management, email marketing, customer relationship management and lead generation. Hootsuite, HubSpot, Zigihub and Marketo are examples of popular automation tools for small businesses.
Scaling operations at some point is inevitable for a successful business, and risky decisions need to be made for survival and growth. That said, you should still take measures to minimize that risk and make sure your growth efforts are substantiated. From having an actionable plan to taking advantage of emerging technologies that can help in decision-making, these basic steps can help you make sure your business continues to thrive as you grow. By implementing these strategies, you can reduce inefficiencies and increase your chances of scaling up your business successfully.