How to scale a small business
At a time of global challenges, some small business owners are considering closing their companies. Even those who aren’t facing that crisis still worry about rising costs in the supply chain that are hard to absorb. It’s a brave business owner who dreams about expansion.
But what if you’re sitting pretty in the middle? Your business is ticking along nicely, and you want to expand but are worried about overreaching.
There is no one formula for scaling a business because your business is unique, and each outfit has its strengths and challenges.
Here is some accepted wisdom from business experts to help guide you through this next step into a brave new world.
Partner with professionals
Are you looking to develop new products or scale what you already have? Work with professionals who can offer the expertise and capacity to cope with spikes in demand and who won’t break the bank.
Scaling up means aiming for a higher sales volume, and you’ll need the proper supply chain to handle that. What’s working now might not work so well with a greater volume of orders.
Choose an outfit like The/Studio that can scale quickly and provide large orders of products and customized merchandise. When scaling up, you also want vendors who can do the same and cope with the peaks and troughs of your small business.
Make a plan
If your business started as a hobby (and let’s face it, many do), you might have gone with the flow until now.
However, “going with the flow” is not a suitable strategy for a business, especially one looking to take off from a hobby to a full-scale service or shop. For one, this mindset can lead to stagnation in the company’s direction.
Instead, write a plan. You need to understand your business and where you want to take it. You’ll also need a plan if you want to attract outside funding or angel investors.
Scaling up means you can’t do it all by yourself anymore. So, you will need to hire staff, but that doesn’t mean full-time or even part-time employees.
It can be good to have one permanent staff member who is kind of a bedrock for the company, but if you want strategic expertise, why not source from freelancers?
There are both upsides and downsides to hiring freelancers. Using freelancers avoids the cost of a potentially expensive full-time staff member, and you’ll only pay for what you need. You can access talented marketers, designers, and specialist legal and tax knowledge but only when you need it.
Of course, the downsides exist, too. You can’t guarantee the quality of their work or ensure that they meet your particular vision unless you find a freelancer willing to sign on long-term.
Consider how to hire strategically in a way that doesn’t tether your company but lets it soar.
Don’t let economic doom and gloom put you off. There’s always a reason not to scale your business, and many owners keep it up close and personal rather than expand.
However, if you do decide to push the boundaries, make sure you prepare properly. It’s a tough world out there.