This isn’t the kind of scale most of us prefer to avoid.
It’s the one you gravitate to; the one that helps increase your business revenues without incurring significant costs.
Scaling in the business world doesn’t require you to suffer financial losses from adding resources. Instead, it involves working smarter, more efficiently and with innovative ideas that increase your skill or product saturation with the resources you already have. Costs for scaling your business increase incrementally if at all.
A great example of a company that’s successfully figured out how to scale is Google, which in recent years has been adding customers (either paying business clients or ad-supported free users) while keeping costs at a minimum. Just a few years ago, in fact, it had seven products with over a billion active users each, while only employing 88,000 people.
We may have a long way to go before we can compare our businesses to Google, but there are some pearls to share that apply to us all. Here are some ideas for companies of all sizes that can help you scale your business in the months to come:
1) Consolidate common functions: Ascertain common functions among your employees that can be consolidated to one person on the team. This frees up your team members who touch your customers to do more of what they do best.
2) Outsource to freelance professionals who can handle your overflow until your revenues outpace the costs of hiring new personnel: Operations, technology and professional services fit well into this category until you have enough funds to double or triple the profits from your personnel.
3) Listen to your team members who interact with and sell to the customer: Doing this regularly keeps you on the pulse of the customer’s needs, including products or services you currently do not offer. They also know what your operations/manufacturing teams can do to better help the customer love your company more.
4) Reassess your pricing strategy: We’re all hearing about inflation. What that means is that companies are adding a little to their prices. That added profit margin, no matter how small, can help your company attract higher paid personnel or add resources or equipment for growth.
5) Innovate product lines that tie into your existing offerings and still capitalize on economies of scale: If three company associates can give 5% of their current time to a new offering that can be produced on your current equipment and has increased profit margins, you are scaling up without incurring additional costs.
6) Pay close attention to the products or services you sell that allow for the greatest profit margin: Try to eliminate those that take up time from your people or equipment that aren’t as profitable. That will free up more time both to acquire customers and produce products that allow you to improve your margins.
7) Consider franchising, if appropriate, for your business: An experienced attorney and a good plan to make quality and customer care consistent will be your most valued assets in this endeavor. Some of the added revenues from your initiatives above may help fund this start; then franchise revenues will help to scale it up.
8) Search out new sources or processes for quicker turnaround and lower costs so an increase in your business will allow you to keep more in your pocket: You can also negotiate “sole vendor” agreements and bulk discounts. Also, keep in mind that bundling tasks that your higher paid personnel can turn over to hourly employees will make a difference.
9) Identify a new industry or market where your services/product lines are applicable but not yet saturated. Remote or physical locations in other geographic regions—even internationally—are endless.
10) Conduct online marketing and let it spill over to social media. Select an employee to put together an email marketing campaign with lists you purchase. Also, update your website using lots of key words and images—so people will come to you without the added overhead of an additional salesperson.
11) Interview your team members to ascertain some new skills and interests so they can contribute several hours a week to something they love even more than what they are currently doing. It gives them a chance to spread their wings, and it gives you a chance to see what they can do in other roles.
12) Consider add-on product lines at retail, restaurant or online locations that you can source from other vendors to complement your offerings. They’ll need to sell for a nice markup. Jewelry, sweets, accessories, etc. fit into this category.