Building and managing your own company can be exhausting and yet, very fulfilling. I am an entrepreneur, an owner of a web design company for more than 11 years now, and I’ve seen a lot that made my company to what it is today.
If you are a startup looking for your own break, there are some things that you need to watch out for in scaling up. Scaling up your business shouldn’t be done too quickly nor during the heat of the moment of success with a client.
There are numerous considerations you have to take into account before you consider scaling up your operations. The effects of scaling up your business will be felt by the whole company; its effects will be hard to undo once you’ve integrated it into your company’s system.
However, always waiting for a “sign” or delaying the opportunity to scale up may also be detrimental to your company. You might miss out on opportunities that could have taken your company to another level, in terms of resources and revenue.
Running a website design business is no joke; the competition locally and internationally is tough, and the changing demands of clients and audiences worldwide is hard to keep up with. But throughout those 11 years, I saw people come and go, clients come and go, but I have made the right decisions that made us to what we are now. Based on my experience in running a web design business in a span of 11 years, here are my five tips that you should consider pondering over before taking the next step in scaling up your business:
1. Ask yourself: “Can I really scale up my business?”
Your cool product or stunning service may work wonders, but it’s not the “sign” that you’ve been waiting for to scale up. No matter how good your product is or how stellar your services are, the competition just gets tougher and tougher. Consider your resources when scaling up — if the costs are too much to handle unless you need to exert more resources than you can handle, maybe it’s better to stay as a small business. No need to branch out or expand if you find success in your current state.
In 2016, a Wells Fargo survey found that two-thirds of 600 small businesses owners they surveyed said their financial situation is “good”. It says something about their current condition, and how they managed to stay lean and small. Most of these small businesses are family-owned, local businesses that thrive in their own location. Consider the amount of effort you have to do— scaling up may not be for you, but that may be the best choice to keep your business afloat.
2. Then ask yourself this: “What makes my business unique?”
In running a business, you know that what you usually plan out doesn’t work out the way you plan to. What you core services may not be the main services you offer right now. If you want to scale up your business, you should be able to point out what’s your distinctive characteristic among your competitors. Scaling up too quickly without determining what can help you scale up will make your efforts futile.
Take this guide on preparing your startup to scale up by Neil Patel. His tips can be practically applied to your business, whatever industry you are in:
- Know the ins and outs of your business, from your products or services to your core target market
- Automate anything that can be automated to save time
- Determine the quickest way to boost brand presence through marketing
- Let others do the work — outsource other tasks
- Watch your brand’s presence on social media
- Your business should be independent of you
- Hire the right people to improve your workflow
3. Automate and outsource responsibly
If there’s anything you can automate your process, have it automated. There are various aspects of your workflow that can be automated, whether it’s your company’s payroll or collecting data, you should consider automating these tasks.
While automating processes can be very handy, it is still mandatory to check the output every now and then. You might have relied on training videos to automate your training process, but the learning curve of each trainee varies. Evaluation is important as this may affect your plans for scaling up your business.
Another way to get things done quicker and easier is through outsourcing. The same principle applies to outsourcing as you would in automating. In deciding on what and what not to outsource, think if you’re outsourcing a major, core task. All core tasks should be done in-house, while other ancillary roles should be outsourced. For example, we work with a startup on automating our tax payments, and sometimes we outsource other services aside from web designing to make our workload easier — no need to hire another person who wouldn’t be that much help to our web design business.
4. Have you reached a point where you can take “breaks” now?
Your process may seem complicated to outsiders, but it should be like clockwork to your teammates. They should know every nook and cranny of how things run in the company. The process should be easily understandable and can be repeated by newly hired employees.
Your business should be able to stand on its own — as the business owner, your role is to overlook operations, and slowly walk away from being involved in the operations. You shouldn’t feel too much guilty when taking a break from work; taking a break allows you to hit that imaginary “refresh” button that helps in rebuilding your thoughts and thinking outside of the box ideas for your next venture.
5. Don’t do these three things in a rush: building, spending, and hiring
Why? Isn’t it necessary to build what your company has to offer, spend more money for resources, and hire more people?
These three things shouldn’t be decided in a rush; hiring, spending, and building. Here’s why:
- Hiring too many people can disrupt your workflow. You’re increasing the supply without measuring if it meets or goes over the demand. You’re adding unnecessary resources that can be outsourced instead.
- Don’t focus on adding more and more to what you’ve already started. Make sure that you’re an expert on one thing before moving on to the next year.
- It can be tempting to spend the money you raised to buy new equipment or spend it right away to hire the missing link to your marketing campaign; however, keep yourself grounded and spend money on what can help grow the company.
Scaling up your business shouldn’t be your only obligation. It should be done in a cumulative effort between you and your teammates. Figure out which tasks you can automate or outsource. On the other hand, watch out how you spend your money. Most of all, you should gauge if your business is truly scalable or not. There’s no point in trying to scale up if your business is already lean and working on a small scale.
Kenneth Sytian is the CEO of Sytian Productions, Web Design Philippines. Kenneth has been designing websites and developing web apps for more than a decade.