Small businesses aren't meant to stay small forever. Eventually, you'll have to breach the barrier and scale up - or remain stagnant and fail. Many entrepreneurs understand this and dream of taking things to the next level. Unfortunately, in an effort to do what they want they end up ignoring what they need to do. Here are a number of things you can do to make the transition and growth process easier.
1. Focus on Your Niche
When you're a small business, it's all about snapping up every opportunity that comes your way. When you're transitioning into a larger form, it's more about focusing on your niche. The problem with taking opportunities is that it often dilutes your core offering.
Focus on your niche. Don't let the windfall of opportunities distract you from you want to do. There may be room for that in the future, but not right now.
2. Grow and Hire Aggressively
Many small business owners fail to scale their company simply because they don't have enough people. With scaling comes growth and more customers, possibly along with more complicated tasks. Many make the mistake of hiring as necessary, which often leaves them on the back foot, as the hiring process can take time.
Instead of waiting for openings, hire ahead. Hire in expectation of growth when you're trying to grow the company. That way, when new business arrives, your company is ready. It's a scary thought, but you won't get anywhere just doing things that are safe. Do what is necessary, not necessarily what is safe.
3. Work with People Smarter Than You
Running a small business is not for the arrogant. If you shy away from people better than you, you'll never grow. It'll also make it difficult to grow your small business. Better to learn from people smarter than you than to be afraid of them.
Most small business owners get people smarter than them as partners. Not only does it help the small business as a whole, they can teach you things you would not have learned otherwise. You could conceivably learn what they know on your own, but the amount of effort and cost could be relatively astronomical. Just learn from people who've done it before to make things easier on yourself.
4. Be an Authority
Ramping up your small business is more than improving the startup and how it functions. It's just like when you first started it — it needs more than its own brand to succeed. Your small business needed you to become a positive entity in the industry, and that need will only grow as your company grows. For example, more people with greater or more specific criteria will research you before taking on your business - what impressed your previous audience may not impress them.
Think of scaling up as entering a whole new field of business. Everything, from the competition to the scope of possible problems and profit, is different. Create a strong presence and use it to lead your company to the next level.
5. Implement Good Practices and Great Systems From the Start
Where many small businesses tend to falter involves how they do business. When they don't have good practices and scalable systems from the start, they'll have to redo how they do things. This can cost you a lot of time and energy, setting back your growth months, if not years due to testing and inevitable mistakes.
If you haven't put in scalable systems yet, start immediately. Figure out how you make things and condense them into a step-by-step system. Not only will this help with scaling, it'll improve productivity.
If you're still having problems scaling your small business, hire someone. Find an expert who can help you take the business and make it everything you've ever wanted it to be. There's no shame in looking for help. If it's what you need to do to grow, do it.