Many SME owners look at successful corporates and aim to be there. They often see success as being instant but when you look into the history of many successful businesses, you will see a period of building towards success and being able to scale successfully. Some businesses scale too fast and fizzle out. We need to make sure we pack the wood well and have the resources available to keep the fire stoked for many more years to come. Let’s look at how to build for scale.
STEP 1: Define a clear business vision
Why did you go into business? What values and beliefs are important for you to have a successful business? The first step to writing a clear business vision is to understand what your core beliefs and values are. You will struggle to build a business which conflicts with your values and beliefs. Next, you need to define what kind of business you are in. Let’s say you sell sneakers, are you in the business of selling sneakers or giving the wearer the feeling that they can achieve whatever goal they have set themselves when they wear your sneakers? We need to remember that more than the product or service we sell, the value and need we satisfy for our customers are of utmost importance. Because of this, our vision should highlight the bigger picture of the value we give to our customers.
STEP 2: Make it part of your business plan
When you think about your five-year goal for the business, what does your business look like? Do you want to continue where you are or do you want to be further along your business journey? Many people want to be making more profit. Therefore from the first flicker of light in your business, you must be building a strong foundation. You need to break down your five-year goal into a two-year goal and then into a one-year goal and final into a monthly goal. By working back from your ultimate goal, you can ensure that each step you are taking is creating a strong foundation for your business to grow.
You should also be aware that business success is very rarely linear. You will have ups and downs and sometimes you may even need to review your plan but by having a plan in place you will have a guide to help you reach your goal.
STEP 3: Fine-tune your offering
When you release your product into the market you will get feedback from some of your customers. It is important to consider the feedback objectively. Then see how you can perfect your service or product offering so that you add the most value to your customer.
STEP 4: Take care of your employees
Employees will be the first promoters of your business. Every day that they go home and chat to their friends and family, they will either be raving fans or not. You want them to be raving fans. Make sure the working conditions are equal or better than industry standards and that people feel good to be part of your brand. By treating your employees well, they will transfer this care to your customers. So treat your employees like you would like them to treat your customers.
Another aspect to remember regarding employees is to hire for attitude rather than skills. Attitude is difficult to adjust if it is negative and misaligned with your business’ values and beliefs.
STEP 5: Embrace technology
We are living in the fourth industrial revolution and businesses must embrace technology to help create efficient systems. By automating repetitive and easy tasks, you can work on the strategy for your business. It is important to look at the technologies available to you for different functions in your business. There are two points to keep in mind when investing in technology and they are:
- Can the technology scale with your business as you grow and how will the cost change?
- Can the technology integrate with the other technologies you are currently using or will you need to learn a new system?
By embracing technology and ensuring it integrates well across all parts of the business will ensure you don’t work in silos but that everyone can see what needs to be done.
STEP 6: Invest in leadership skills
Sometimes entrepreneurs are not natural leaders. They may be innovative and creative but could lack the skills to encourage and inspire people to work for them. You should invest in courses which will grow your leadership skills. By following these six steps, you will be well on your way to creating a business which will scale well and you will get dividends for many years to come.
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