Business-to-Business growth is an extremely exciting and varied topic; ranging from steady and dull, through well-planned and executed, to spectacular success or failure.
At Cofficient, we see companies on the apex of their curve to success – but the proverbial ‘hockey stick’ can be up or down. This can be for businesses at the ‘Start-up’ stage of development, or ‘Scale-up’, which can happen any time.
Scaling up can be a make-or-break moment for your company. Scale too quickly or recklessly, and you’ll create a host of organisational problems that will be hard to undo. Premature scaling may even cause your business to fail. Scale too slowly, however, and you’ll miss out on key opportunities that come with greater resources and revenue.
Whether you are a start-up or you are deciding how high to jump off that springboard of change, we have laid out 6 things to look out for that will help you on a road to success.
Establish Product/Market Fit
In short, your product/market fit is achieved when your product meets your ideal customer’s needs and does it better than their alternative options. To scale-up your business you should be mastering your buyer personas, developing your true value proposition, finalising your product or service offering and establishing a baseline for your key business metrics. This will enable you to confidently execute everything on a larger scale without sacrificing your current niche for the sake of growth.
One example of this is video software provider, Odro. They provide a solution in a crowded market with the likes of Skype, etc.. However, they really understood their market and created a niche by offering interviewing software for their ideal customers – recruitment companies. Check out their website and read about their growth plans:
Clearly Define Roles and Hierarchy
If you want to scale successfully, you need each person to be fully dedicated to one job — and one job only. It will be confusing and unproductive if members of your team are still juggling multiple roles, which will only slow your growth. Start planning for the future and separate these positions now. At the very least, document what this change will look like when you can make it happen.
At the same time, the founders or current leadership team can only lead so many people without it taking over their entire job. When you start planning the switch to specific roles, think about additional levels of management and an overall organisational hierarchy. This initiative can feel intimidating as many modern organisations tout a “flat” organisation, meaning they don’t operate with layers upon layers of leadership.
However, a proper scale-up needs some sort of management structure so growth isn’t bottlenecked by a leadership team needing to review every single decision before it can move forward.
A good example of leadership is from Martin Lightbody and how he grew his small bakery Lightbody cakes.
Build Your Software/Infrastructure
As your company transitions into scale-up mode, you have more to lose if you don’t monitor your marketing and sales funnel and keep an eye on your important business metrics. Therefore, you need a cohesive software that will quickly and easily pinpoint weak areas of your business.
Your business isn’t scalable if any aspect of it is resource intensive. Streamline as many processes as you can. There is a couple of popular solutions that can help you with managing your business and make it scalable.
- CRM system
A scale-up requires the fast growth of customers, so it’s essential to improve customers experience. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software helps you manage interactions with your clients by organising and storing data about them. With the help of this data, you can respond to customers’ questions faster, improve marketing strategy in accordance with clients’ needs and analyse their buying patterns.
- Cloud computing
Cloud Computing provides accessibility. Imagine, that your customer needs urgent help at odd hours. But how can employees help the customer if they have no information needed for solving the problem? With the cloud-based software they can access data in just a few clicks.If you have business directly connected to the Internet, you need flexible and powerful space for your project. Cloud computing can provide this space. You also can outsource the whole IT infrastructure of your project and through that get rid of expenses on in-house hardware, electricity and free up space. Storing information in the cloud is a good point in developing a business scaling strategy.
- ERP system
To control resources and processes in your scaling business, it would be useful for you to use an ERP system. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) helps organise business data, reports about changes in working process and facilitates work collaboration and planning. What’s more, ERP solution gives you access to data at any time and any place.
Put Automated or Replicable Systems in Place
If you want your employees to be 100 percent focused on jump starting your growth, they can’t be bogged down by repetitive tasks.
- Use a marketing automation platform to remove the hassle of deploying email nurture campaigns, handing off leads to sales, scheduling social posts across multiple accounts and optimising your marketing assets.
- Set up automatic withdrawals to pay your bills on time without having to worry about them.
- Automate your payroll process to pay your employees on time.
- Document any other internal processes and store them (digitally) where they’re easily accessible, so each one is replicable across the entire company — and new hires know exactly what they’re doing when they start.
- Speaking of new hires, one of the most important processes to be able to replicate is your employee training program. As a scale-up, you want every new employee to be able to add value and fuel your growth from day one.
Don’t Go Overboard in These Key Areas
Finally, you must show great restraint as you scale your business: hiring, spending, and building. Here’s why:
- Hiring: Remember, you need to stay lean during the scaling process. Don’t hire too many people (especially middle managers or specialists). These take away from your core competencies and leave you prone to trying to scale other areas too quickly.
- Spending: Again, there’s a tendency for businesses to get loose with their money once they have raised a lot during the fundraising stage. Keep all of your spending focused on growing the business.
- Building: Once you’ve achieved product-market fit and started scaling up based on that main offering, don’t go crazy trying to add features or related products. Make sure you can do one thing better than anyone before you start building new stuff.
Seek Assistance from third parties
Your internal team may have an impressive level of experience, but only a 3rd party consultant can provide your business with experience that draws on multiple external projects. Third-party consultants have likely worked with many different clients in many different industries, giving them a far broader mix of experience that you may not or cannot consider due to lack of internal knowledge or capacity.
Make sure you use your network of 3rd parties as they will offer a fresh set of eyes and will help outline the value.
What you need to remember is scalability is a mindset that’s all about having the systems and people in place to make your growth as seamless as possible.
Good luck in the scale-up.
If you are looking for assistance in scaling your business, download our guide – Everything You Need To Know About Buying Business Software