A Guide to Growing and Scaling Your Business – PART 1
Four Keys for Achieving Business Growth
So you have a business you’re working to scale? At the onset of that desire, you’re bound to have a lot of questions about the best ways to do that, especially in this epically-competitive eCommerce environment. Beyond the basics of product, ecommerce store setup, etc., there are many technical specifics to consider in terms of your online software, supply chain networks, logistics and fulfillment processes, and international obstacles. However, when we break this process down to its purest form there are two terms that take the helm: Growth and Scaling.
Growth vs. Scaling
Though these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they actually have distinct meanings. When your business grows, its resources (products, investors, warehouse space, staff size, etc.) are increasing. The higher revenue that results from this can be offset by what you invested to expand these resources; thus, though your business is growing, it may not lead to growth in profit. It’s like being a super short kid that suddenly shoots up in height–the added benefit of confidence that comes from this growth may be balanced out by the inconvenience of cost (buying new pants, shoes, etc.) to accommodate the bigger size.
Scaling, meanwhile, is about increasing revenue without needing to add additional resources. Here your overhead is remaining steady while you rake in the extra dollars. Naturally, this is the ideal goal for business owners, but in order to scale, growth is the necessary first step. It is the foundation that you can begin scaling success on. Today we’re going to be discussing growth and the four keys you need to know to achieve it.
At A Glance
The buzzword driving the concept of growth is build. As in–build a management team with complementary skill sets, build reliable partnerships, and build the processes and systems that will help you scale later on. These three factors will give your business its best chance at growth while setting you up for the ability to scale.
1.) Marvelous Management
As the owner of a business, you are probably already very good at certain aspects of entrepreneurship, and obviously you know your product(s) really well. The thing is, no one ever achieved anything truly great truly alone. It’s the ol’ teamwork makes the dream work mentality. If you are going to grow, you need to first build a team of people who bring unique tools to the table in the areas of finance, marketing, human resources, quality control, and so on. The more high-level people you trust to handle different aspects of the business, the faster you can grow together.
2.) Partners in Action
It is natural and completely normal for an owner to want to be involved in every part of the business–have your fingers in all the pies. However, while putting your personal touch everywhere can have certain benefits in terms of quality control, the hard fact is that owner micromanaging and over-involvement will eventually limit how much you can grow.
Building a reliable network of partners is a crucial part of business growth, specifically in regards to your supply chain. If you are getting bigger and bigger, your brand needs service providers who can keep up. It is therefore immeasurably important that when beginning a business you get involved with partners who have the capacity to handle growth (rapid, slow, or anything in between). If you get all your ducks in a row from the getgo–manufacturers, 3PL fulfillment providers, shipping carriers–then when you do expand, and those increased orders come in, you don’t have to worry about whether or not you have the means to handle it.
3.) Processes and Systems
On the subject of ensuring your ducks are in a row, you also want to make sure your ducks are ready to go–fly at a moment’s notice. Three key areas that need to be accounted for to ensure you don’t fall flat on your face when your business takes off are:
- Automation and Robotics
- Data and Order Management Software
- Distribution (National and International)
Going back to the idea of limiting how many pies you have a hand in, for a business to grow, owners must utilize standardized, technology-backed systems that employees can easily maintain no matter how big your business gets. Paired with hands-on logistics experts, and the right delegation of people to oversee the processes, when orders get going your shipping methods will be flowing!
4.) Committing to Growth
We’ve talked about how important it is to build the right management team, reliable partnerships, and systems. All of these factors need to be locked in place in order for you to grow, thereby setting you up for a successful run at scaling your business. However, the last key we’ll mention to growing a business is arguably the most basic requirement–you have to want your business to grow. This may seem like a concept that goes without saying, but studies have shown that in their early stages, there are plenty of entrepreneurs who are hesitant about growth and lack the ambition to scale because of that.
It’s an understandable fear. Growth, as mentioned, requires the investment of additional resources–people, time, money. It’s a risk. But then, building something great always is. President John F. Kennedy once famously gave a speech where he stated the US had an image to live up to as “a city upon a hill–constructed and inhabited by men (and women) aware of their great trust and their great responsibilities.” Building a great business, like building a great country, is rooted in trusting people with different immense responsibilities to hold our systems together no matter how things change or grow. You need the right management, partners, and processes. And the leader at the helm–in this case you, the business owner–needs to have taken steps to ensure these are all accounted for while also developing realistic growth plans and measurable targets so your aspirations don’t run away with you and you can take concrete steps forward. Only then will your growth lend itself to successful, sustainable scaling.
The Return on Courage
Often with growing comes growing pains. It can be hard for any entrepreneur to stomach increased costs and resources without an immediate increase in profits. However, when growth is done with a clear understanding and execution of the aforementioned keys, you set yourself up for the possibility of successful scaling and that is where the return on courage is paid forward.
Whatever stage your growing business is in, ensure you have the right systems in place in terms of technology, personnel, and planning. If you are ready to take things to the next level and grow for the gold, so to speak, contact us at ShipMonk to work with an international team of fulfillment and logistics experts who can help grow your business in affordable, easily-manageable ways that put you in a prime position for scaling i.e. the next phase in your brand success story.
To learn more about scaling, check out our next blog for PART 2 in our “Guide to Growing and Scaling Your Business” – 5 Keys to Scaling Your Business Efficiently.