According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, about half of all new businesses never survive past three or four years, and survival rates have changed little over time. In order to survive and thrive, having a growth plan – a plan to scale – from the outset is vital.
SurePayroll, which provides online payroll services to small businesses, has worked with tens of thousands of small and growing businesses for over a decade and has seen it all. “Even successful businesses still need an outside, unbiased perspective to evaluate the viability of scaling the business to a higher level,” says Andy Roe, General Manager of SurePayroll. “Mentors, coaches and outside consultants are important to helping business owners make decisions about growth and scale.”
Here are some steps that can help as you think about scaling:
1. Build in scale from the beginning:
It starts with a solid, vetted business plan. The best business plans include a growth strategy section that maps out from the beginning how the business will scale once it is up and running. Keep in mind there may be opportunities to scale form both within and outside your business.
For example, strategic partnerships are one excellent way to scale. Look for companies or organizations that have products, services or memberships that can provide a good fit with your own and offer benefits to both. And be sure to include growth possibilities outside of your initial product or service offering.
2. Set repeatable processes and standards:
Reinventing the wheel every time you try to grow isn’t scalable. Try to design steps and processes that you can use over and over so things get easier, not more difficult, as you grow. Processes allow for quality control. And this applies to services as well as products. Without process you can’t operate efficiently, and that means you can’t scale. You’ll siphon cash out of your business due to internal mistakes and customer dissatisfaction.
3. Find tools and technology that can help you operate more efficiently.
Thanks to a wide-range of cloud-based tools and services, it’s easier for a small business to scale today than ever before. It’s now possible to run almost every aspect of your business with a cloud service, from managing employees, inventory, finances, payroll, invoicing, customer relationship management, marketing, product design, and dozens more. These tools help you save time and money while growing your business.
4. Build a strong internal growth culture.
If you make growth your mantra, others will buy into your vision to scale the business. By articulating a mission and values that support innovation and growth, you will more easily gain support from employees, consultants, contractors; and customers as well.
5. Ensure access to capital:
To grow and scale your business, you may need new people, products or tools, and those cost money. Without proper funding, you can find yourself out-sold, undercut and pushed out of the marketplace. Funding can come in many forms – angel investors, SBA loans, credit lines or even so-called “crowd funding.” Just make sure you have a good handle not only on what you’ll need, but what sources are realistically available to you.
6. Get outside help:
Identify potential advisors, mentors, partners and other outside resources that can help you grow and scale the business. Putting an advisory board in place early on is one strategy that has paid off handsomely for many entrepreneurs. Advisors often come with built-in networks of connections that can prove highly valuable in helping you grow. While business solutions and technologies change, key learnings from experienced advisors who’ve “been there, done that” will save time, money and stress as you scale.
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