Every entrepreneur wants two main things; more time and more money. Unfortunately, both needs are limited. We need more time to juggle our busy work-life with personal life. We want to be able to spend more time with family, friends or indulge other interests.
We also need money to fund our business; hire top talent, facilitate research and development, run more marketing campaigns, expand operations and so on. The list is almost endless. True, having more money will go a long way in boosting our business’ growth. But if we don’t manage it properly, we would be wasting it. Likewise, our time. And we all know time is money.
But it is often difficult to find time to complete other projects when you are busy worrying about the demands of your business. Especially, how to scale from startup to any competitive level. All businesses need to scale successfully if they must win in their industry.
To scale, you need to be involved in many things, including self-development. Growing your skill set will make it easier to meet the demands of a growing business. This includes handling your client/customer needs, increasing sales and managing people. But these take time, so essentially, we are back to square one.
In this post, we discuss practical ways to scale your business, while managing your time in the best way possible.
What does it mean to scale your business?
Before we go on about how to scale, it is only right to begin with a proper explanation of scaling a business. Operating a business at scale simply means distributing and optimising resources to achieve results and drive volume across various segments of your market.
Critical questions you want to ask are:
- Are your sales and marketing teams working together to generate leads and close deals?
- Are closed deals being nurtured into loyal customers?
- Are top executives being leveraged to grow the company’s advertising, trade and services effort to reach new segments and outdo the competition?
Of course, scaling a business is not centred around marketing alone. It covers product development too. Advancing a minimum viable product (MVP) to a marketable prototype is a major part of scaling.
Operating a business at scale is not about duplicating efforts but optimising them. Therefore, an effective scaling strategy also maximises the use of time.
The first step to scaling your business
Goal setting is a necessary start of any entrepreneur who is serious about scaling their business. What objective do you have for the next five years? To grow your revenue by 5% each quarter? Increase production by 300,000 units? Or acquire a new segment of the market?
Whatever your goal; it needs to be SMART; specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-specific. There must also be cogent reasons behind those goals, and why they need to be achieved. By creating a strategy, executing it and staying true to your processes, you can take advantage of various scalable models to expand your business.
There will be challenges; nobody said it was easy. But with perseverance and surrounding yourself with a capable team, you will prevail.
If you run an online service or Ecommerce business, the following are different ways to scale.
- Raise capital
One of the first things on a “scaling list” is to raise capital. How do you generate funds? This is a very critical, yet difficult aspect of entrepreneurship. You can do so via support from friends and family, or from a lending institution such as a bank. But the most common way startups raise cash is through venture capitalists.
A venture capitalist is someone who takes interest in a budding business, and agrees to fund it. In return, they may own a part of the business or share in its profits. You can find VCs at conferences or pitch to them at their office. However, it is important to go extremely prepared. Ensure your business plan, financials, product prototype and so on are in order.
- Create and share blog content
Online businesses that do not have a blog lose potential sales every day. Blogs are a great way to generate leads that can be nurtured into paying customers. Another benefit of business blogging is the ability to build credibility and authority in your niche. When the audience regards your business as an authority, they will be more trusting towards your product.
But blogging is not just opening a web account and discussing trending topics. It is systematic and purposeful. A good amount of research and planning is also necessary. This way, you hit people with topics that are relevant to their immediate needs.
- Take advantage of SEO techniques
If your goal is to generate more organic traffic within a specific period, one effective way to scale is by leveraging search engine optimisation. SEO may sound complex, but it easy once you grasp the concept. The use of specific keywords and targeted content marketing can improve your business’ search engine ranking.
Start by researching the pain points of you customers. What objections do they have? Then identify the key words associated with these topics and write longform content relevant to these pain points. Don’t forget to insert those keywords too. The same concept can be used in blogging, product description, advertorials, case studies and “How-To” guides.
- Connect with influencers
Influencers are people who have a strong effect on the market; either through expertise, talent or celebrity status. Businesses looking to expand into new segments of a market can hire influencers to promote their product. However, if you don’t have enough budget for a celebrity, Vloggers and social media influencers are equally effective.
According to Brendan Wilde, marketing manager at New Zealand’s Cheap Domain Names, social media influencers can help you reach an untapped segment of a market a lot faster. “Some of our clients started as simple blogs sites, but when they involved YouTube personalities and Vloggers for product promotion, they experienced up to 10% traffic surge in their website,” he says.
Connecting with influencers helps you connect with your audience. After registering a domain, ensure you have a scalable hosting plan that allows quick migration to a more accommodating one during traffic surges.
- Create a lead magnet and sales funnel
Every online business should have a functional strategy for leads generation and sales nurturing. It is common knowledge to most online marketers that building an effective sales funnel is a winning formula for effective business scaling. When customers arrive your website, they want to be guided through a convenient route from information seeking to product purchase. The sales funnel is about making this ‘journey’ as seamless as possible.
Lead generation is how you lure visitors and potential customers to your website, while sales nurturing is how you ‘nurture’ these leads towards conversion. The more enhanced the user experience, the more likely they are to be converted. The proper sales funnel, split tested to oblivion, with a sound understanding of your cost-per-acquisition, can be infinitely scaled. This has the potential to grow your business tremendously, and maximise revenue.
How to leverage your time effectively
As an entrepreneur, learning and applying these scaling procedures can take up precious time, so it is equally important to have good time management skills. Four components you need to leverage your time are:
This is about developing systems, processes, and in-house training procedures. Automation helps build sustainability so that you can run your business remotely. If you want to take a three-month break, an automation system allows you to run the business without requiring a 24-hour hands on approach. This is important if you want to have time for other things.
Loosen your cuffs and kick back. You don’t have to micro-manage every step of your business. As a human, there is only so much you can do. Hire a goal-oriented and talented team. Use them to replicate the scale, efforts and leveraging of your business’ resources. This is the only way you can quadruple your revenue without pressuring yourself with every step of the operations.
Your business has its core function; naturally, it is not built to handle everything. It is extremely important to know when to call the professionals. Are you a fashion retail service? Then it is not necessary to have the in-house team manage the website’s data and server issues. It is more cost-effective to outsource it to IT experts, while you focus on new ways to scale your footwear line.
When growing your business to acquire revenue, there are key aspects you want to focus on. To be productive, it is strategic to recognise valuable areas of your business and the ‘dead-ends’. Entrepreneurs who spend efforts and resources on dead-ends are only wasting their time, not to mention precious money. Challenge yourself by writing down 10 things you can delete from your business to free up resources and channel them towards more useful areas.
Are you thinking of expanding your business? Set your goals first, ensure it is reasonable and time-specific. Then choose applicable techniques to set it in motion, while adopting the suggested time management procedures. You should observe a positive difference within a few months.