As your business begins to draw more attention, it’s tempting to significantly ramp up production or take on numerous new clients. But doing so without looking at the long-term impact will only bring you grief. Taking on projects you don’t have the staff or resources to manage, or overestimating just how much the market can support the work you do, may lead you to overextend.
So, it’s a balancing act: You need to grow to take advantage of business opportunities without growing so fast that you damage, or destroy, a company you’ve put your heart into.
With this in mind, 15 members from YEC share their top tips for scaling a business without going too fast.
1. Look at Processes First
Your business is a set of repetitive processes — for sales, operations, marketing, and finance — refined over time and communicated clearly to your team. If you want to grow, your processes have to grow, too. Think about putting in the right processes now for a company three to 10 times your size. Sure, you can manually run payroll now, but you can’t for 100 employees.
2. Look at the Long-Term Results
Almost all growth looks appealing in the short run, but it’s long-term viability that actually matters. The difference between flash-in-the-pan businesses and those with viable long-term success is that they look at the big picture. Before looking at a growth opportunity, see if it makes sense one or even five years from now. Comparing the costs to long-term gains will ensure the right choice.
3. Launch Your Product Quietly
Any successful business will start to scale, and if you want to manage your growth without scaling quickly, you will need to throttle your marketing. By launching quietly by placing your product or service online, you will be able to manage the influx of customers and grow on your terms. If you have launched a strong marketing campaign, you won’t have the control offered by a soft launch.
4. Hire People Who Can Identify Inefficiencies
Bring people onto your team who can identify inefficiencies in your business while driving the business forward with out-of-the-box ideas. To scale, you need a team of people who aren’t afraid of failure, so look for that in the hiring process.
5. Say ‘No’ to Retail Before You’re Ready
One of the best decisions we made early on was delaying our retail launch. As an IoT product, it was really difficult to turn down offers from Best Buy, Amazon and others. We needed time to get everything prepared for a full retail launch, and waiting six months was a good decision. If you launch before you’re ready, you can wear yourself too thin. By ramping up, you’ll scale in a sustainable way.
6. Make Sure Every New Order is Supported
If you’re accepting more orders than you can satisfy, you’re growing too fast and something will break. Make sure that you have the resources to meet every order that comes in, and then bring on new resources to help you meet increasing demands. When you build a business model on supply and demand, you’ll have a firmer understanding of what you can achieve and where you need to build up.
7. Manage Your Cash Flow
One of the pitfalls of growing too fast is managing your cash flow. In fact, if you extend net terms (i.e. 30 days) to your customers and your growth picks up, it’s possible you can run out of money and be unable to meet your minimum cash needs, such as payroll and marketing. That’s why it is critical to evaluate financing options — such as an adequate line of credit — to manage and maximize growth.
8. Staff Aggressively
One fast way to break a business is by stretching key team members too thin. When you’re experiencing a growth spurt, hire more contractors or staff to ensure everyone has adequate resources to fulfill their jobs, rather than being forced to be reactive to everything that’s going on when they’re understaffed.
9. Set Goals and Timelines
You need to be able to set reasonable goals within reasonable timelines when it comes to your company’s growth rate. For example, at six months we want to have “x” amount of employees and “x” amount of clients. At one year we want this many… and so on. This will put your company’s growth in perspective for you and your entire team, and set expectations for all.
10. Know Your Numbers
Do extensive market research to make sure any horizontal growth is justified by quantifiable projected growth. The problem many businesses encounter is “over-investing.” When increased success encourages expansion, there’s a tendency to spend more on scaling than the market can handle.
– Nicholas Nadjarian, Industrial Motor Power Corp.
11. Focus on Retention, Not Superficial Growth
A lot of businesses that grow too fast (and end up folding) decide to scale because they want to absolve or justify their valuation. What ends up happening is that the business will bleed cash in order to create buzz and service those new customers. When you scale your business, you will definitely attract new customers, but you should focus on retention instead of superficial growth.
12. Outsource Projects
One thing that people often forget is that there are plenty of people out there who don’t want to work for someone, but would love a steady stream of work. Using this to everyone’s advantage has upsides for both parties. If your business has lots of project work and you’d like to be able to take more or less at times, then partnerships with like-minded people are the way to go.
13. Don’t Scale to Suit Investors
Venture capital investors and founders play on the same field, but they aren’t playing the same game. VCs will push lots of companies to grow very quickly with the knowledge that most will fail — they spread their bets. Founders, who are all in on one company, should be more cautious about rapid growth. Focus on establishing reliable revenue streams so you can support organic growth.
14. Grow With Your Projects
Resist the urge to staff up like crazy and get an office that doesn’t fit your needs. Grow with demand. Bring on the team you need in order to sign the clients you want to be signing. Continue to scale this up as demand and resources allow. A fancy office or large staff doesn’t mean anything without the client roster to back them up.
15. Be Ready to Pause (Briefly)
Scaling up a business is like trying to change the wheels on a race car while it’s zipping around the track. You will have to pull over for some — hopefully short — amount of time while you rip out or adjust old, unscalable processes and set yourself up for the next stage of growth in order to prevent disaster down the road. Don’t be afraid of this transition: It’s not a plateau, it’s a jumping-off point.
How to Scale Your Business with Content Marketing
We hope you enjoyed our latest YEC expert roundup series, which is focused on providing you with actionable tips on how to grow and scale your blog, brand, and business to new levels of growth. To learn more about how to reach new audiences and create a content marketing plan for your business, be sure to check out our how to start a blog guide and make money blogging guide. Each of these guides will prove useful in breaking down the various components for effectively creating original content for your audience, while also discovering how to use call-to-actions, viral marketing, and outreach to rank higher in the search results.
How Much Confidence Do You REALLY Have in Your Blog?
Watch this video I recorded in Brooklyn Heights today:
Sweet view, eh? I made a powerful point too. Bloggers sometimes boast of their confidence and clarity. Puffing themselves up, they believe deeply in themselves and in their blog. Critics? Who cares? These dynamos seem unstoppable. Belief! Success is on the way, right? Awesome. Then, after mentioning their blog in front of a parent or sibling or cousin, their loved ones make fun of “blogging”, telling these idiots to “get a real job”. OUCH! Like a balloon being popped, your loved ones took a pin to your ego, deflating you. AND showing how you genuinely have little confidence in your blog. Turns out, you feel filled with doubt and pure uncertainty about your blog AND in yourself, blogging-wise. This is a good thing. Critics trigger and unearth deep fears you need to face, feel and release, to reach the next stage of your blogging career. So…how much confidence do you REALLY have in your blog? Talk about your blog to friends and family members, or to strangers. You will find out. Fast. Because these folks are non-targeted and often highly NOT interested in blogging.
I recall mentioning my blog to my fam about 10 years ago. Before doing this, I believed I felt super confident about my blog and self. I BELIEVED in myself! Wild-eyed, ignorant, deluded newbie blogging excitement covered up the fact I doubted myself and my blogging abilities, horribly. After that little chat – even though no family member seemed terribly critical – I felt like crap. Awkward, and lost, my family’s questions triggered deep fears in me. I doubted myself. I doubted my blog. In truth, I had no idea what I was doing because I refused to learn from pros. Bad idea. Naturally, I gained confidence after this session – eventually – because I faced and felt doubts eating into my blogging confidence.
The quickest way to gain blogging confidence is to discuss your blog and what you do with anybody on earth, from friends, to fam, to strangers. Never try to convince or influence or convert folks, because doing so shows your lack of confidence. Let people live their lives and make their choices. Your job is to see how shy or clear you feel discussing your blog. Shy bloggers feeling awkward chatting blogging with folks simply feel filled with fear. Blogging fears need to go for you to succeed. Speak about blogging in public. Broadcast live in a public spot. Record videos in busy spots with heavy foot traffic, as I did above, in Brooklyn. Face, feel and release self-conscious fears that need to go for you to reach the next stage of blogging growth.
One way to be a smarter and richer blogger is by facing your blogging fears routinely. Speaking to or in front of fam or strangers about your blog certainly unearths some of those deep fears. Do it. See where you are at, confidence-wise. Being straight with yourself is hands down one of the quickest ways to accelerate your blogging success. Relax, share your blogging exploits and honestly assess how you feel, to increase your blogging success.
Writing: Your Best Blogging Friend
Writing helps you succeed with blogging. Because writing gives you credibility. Credible bloggers land clients, sell eBooks, place sponsored posts and drive steady traffic, too. Write your rear end off. Write 500-1000 words daily. Write to be confident. Write to be clear. Write to gain credibility in your blogging niche. Of course, most bloggers struggle because few bloggers practice writing offline, daily. Bloggers only write when they publish a blog post or guest post. BIG mistake. Most bloggers publish posts infrequently, meaning you get in little writing practice. Not good.
Why do you believe you can just show up, write and publish a post and become successful quickly? If blogger were this easy, guys like me could have gone pro within weeks of buying my domain and hosting. Alas, it took me thousands of hours and years to go full time because I had to practice writing, creating and connecting to be REALLY good at blogging. Skills, exposure and credibility flow to bloggers who tirelessly practice all aspects of blogging. Everybody else fails and quits.
All money you make through blogging flows to you because people trust you and your blog. Writing skillfully – with confidence and clarity – is the only way people trust you and your blog. The more you write, the more skilled a writer you become. The formula is genuinely simple. But quite uncomfortable to put into action, sometimes. Few bloggers want to practice writing with nobody watching. Some bloggers foolishly skip writing practice because they believe writing offline for practice wastes their time. This is like saying you waste your time practicing shooting hoops in a lonely, empty gym if you aspire to make it to the NBA. NBA stars practiced 10,000 hours or more, often times in quiet, lonely gyms, and always *in private, out of the public eye, with nobody watching*, to become skilled enough to go pro. Expect to take a similar journey in order to become a professional blogger.
Writing is your core skill. If you write well, you make money online. If you write poorly, you do not make money online.
Buy my eBook:
Every way to profit – out of these 15 strategies – can work quite nicely if you practice writing offline daily. Practice to become confident. Practice to become clear on your writing. Confident, clear writers write with authority. Writing with authority inspires trust in your readers. Again; this is a simple process. But sometimes, this process feels uncomfortable. Nudge through discomfort. Write, write and write some more. People who trust you based on your writing skills tend to buy your eBooks, hire you to coach them, hire you to freelance write for them and buy sponsored posts on your blog. Be diligent in writing. The money flows to you based on how much you practice writing. Plus, practicing your writing makes you prolific. Being prolific increase your blog traffic and blogging profits, too. No downsides exist to writing offline daily. Only upsides. So….write!
Practice in private. Shine in public.
Any successful blogger you envy now practiced writing so diligently that you would never envy their writing practice. After having written millions of words both online and offline, nobody envies the work I put into going pro. But being free to circle the globe? Worth it!
Do You Assume too Much?
One of the biggest problems in blogging; bloggers assume too much. Perfect example is someone emails looking for your best sponsored post price. Right away, most bloggers fear losing money to a cheapie because they ASSUMED someone looking for the best price is cheap. Based on past experience. NO! Do NOT do this. Because based on NOT assuming, but being open and in the moment, more than a handful of folks looking for the best price placed orders at my full price, when I shared it was my final price. I rarely if ever assume because assuming cuts you off from traffic and money, based on past experience and future expectations.
These days, I am more in the moment. I am open. Let’s say a blogger quotes their sponsored post price as being $100. A blogger outreach service pro asks for a lower, better price. In that moment, you can do one of two thing: make a foolish assumption that the individual cannot afford $100 or simply share how $100 is your flat, final price. Assuming they cannot afford $100 INSTANTLY robs you of $100. I mean, instantly. Labeling their email as spam or being nasty with them immediately robs you of $100, based on your ignorant assumption. Choosing not to assume anything opens you up to making a quick $100. Wealthy people with large budgets sometimes seek the best price. Rockefeller would be worth $280 billion today – by estimates – and he balanced his books to the penny. He sought the best price but had billions to invest and did invest billions to be the wealthiest person the world has ever known.
This is why I wrote Creating the Mindset of a Successful Blogger for you. How you choose to think and feel dictates how you act. How you act dictates your success. Failures cling to the past and wander into the future by assuming future scenarios based on past experience. But wise bloggers remain grounded in the present, never assuming. Of course, many cheap bloggers willing to pay only $5 for a $100 sponsored post emailed you with “the best price” reply, in the past. But never rob yourself of $100 by assuming these folks do not have $100 to invest in your guest post. I leave no stones unturned. The way I see it, spending 1 second to read a “Give me a sponsored post for $5” email here and there is worth the “OK, let’s place it for $100” email I see more often these days. Assuming cuts you off from abundance. Being open-minded tunes you in to abundance. Make more money. Be open-minded. Stop assuming.
A few moments ago, our Uber driver told us he originally hailed from Jordan. He has been in the USA for 20 years. My silly mind made a quick assumption; he must live in NYC, like many folks do who immigrated to the USA over the past few decades. He still had a heavy accent. But I refused to assume this and asked him where he lived in the USA. He said in the same New Jersey suburban development where we lived. Small world! Not assuming opens you up to fun, fascinating experiences. Stop assuming online. You’ll make more money, too, and will enjoy your blogging journey.
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