Scalable Business Growth Simplified
What does scalable growth really mean for a small services business?
Growth means adding revenue at the same pace you are adding resources; scalable growth means adding revenue at a much greater rate than cost of delivering service. Scalable growth, simply put, is growth that can be scaled and sustained without a negative impact on the quality of your services using systemization, optimization and simplification of various business processes.
Scalable growth is especially challenging for small services businesses. In order to achieve sustained, scalable growth, services business owners/CEOs need to strategically plan ahead for exponential growth. What can you do to foster scalable growth in your services business? Are there certain processes, systems, and best practices you can adopt to help you scale?
Here are six components that can impact scalability of a small services business-
1. Leadership and Decision Making: Your business is systematized so it can run without you. One of the main reasons why many small businesses are not scalable is because the owners/CEOs are not and they become a bottleneck for their own business success. An overworked and overwhelmed CEO finds little time to focus on long term growth and expansion strategies. If your business is not able to sustain without you, your brainpower and your efforts for routine activities, it’s not scalable.
To be scalable, the business needs to be able to run without you, the owner/CEO (which is actually a win-win because you’re free to work ON the business and/or start new revenue streams/companies/ventures), which in turn requires a self-aware, flexible leader with a keen sense of strategy–both in the short and long term.
2. Service Delivery Standardization: Your business can produce consistent and predictable results for clients. Service-based businesses are hard to scale because each customer tends to require a customized solution (attorney, consultant, accountant etc.).
By definition, a customized solution can not produce a consistent and predictable result because it’s not repeatable. As a small business, scaling requires you to find a way to take what they do and formulate it into a process or system that can be utilized over and over again to produce a predictable and consistent result.
3. Talent: Your business is not overly dependent on exceptional talent. Now, that’s not to say your business needs to be able to run regardless of who’s employed. The people, they do matter, in fact they make all the difference.
However, to be scalable, your business can’t be dependent exclusively on highly and uniquely skilled individuals. They’re hard to replace, they tend to be expensive and not easy to recruit quickly based on demand. Instead, you want to build a balanced organization that comprises of good, competent people who can work the systems and deliver extraordinary results working alongside the highly skilled contributors.
4. Client Acquisition and Retention: Prospecting the right clients at the right cost. Identifying the right customers whose needs you can serve sustainably and create value for them over the long term is crucial for a scalable business. At the same time, its paramount that you have the right prospecting and lead generation practices, that are cost effective, consistent, predictable and have high conversion rates to be scalable.
Focus on creating a customer-centric approach to conducting business and delivering your services so that customer retention remains high. Since a mere 2% increase in customer retention could have a similar effect as reducing costs by 10%, while also boosting your business reputation and referrals crucial for any growing business.
5. Operational Efficiency: Your business can adapt to accommodate new influx of customers/ sales. What if market conditions changed and your business volume increased by 50% this year? What if your sales double or triple or even quadruple this year, could your business handle it? Could you rapidly bring in new resources (from people and processes to finances) and get them up to speed to handle that demand?
Adaptability combined with efficient and optimized business operations is also one of the key determinants of your business profitability.
6. Partnerships and Collaborations: Supplement your technical and business expertise. It’s tempting to want to do everything yourself, especially when funds are scant and ambitions is high. While there’s nothing wrong with a hands-on approach, trying to do it all, especially in areas where you lack experience, can be damaging to your business growth in the long term.
In this era of blossoming freelance culture, it’s not difficult to find expert advice or service, but you have to know when and where to look, to help your business thrive.
To build a scalable business, not necessarily the next Google, consider these six factors:
1. Establish strong leadership and sound decision making practices for your business so it runs without you, the owner/CEO. 2. Build your core service offering so it produces a consistent and predictable result regardless of who the customer is. 3. Build your business so that good, competent people can produce those results using your systems and processes. 4. Systematize your client acquisition, conversion and retention processes to generate leads reliably and cost effectively, convert leads into clients efficiently and have long-term client retention.
5. Design your business operations so that you can rapidly handle an influx of new customers/sales efficiently.
6. Seek partnerships and collaborations to supplement and reinforce your expertise and efforts, when and where needed, to grow your business exponentially.
Based on these few considerations, how scalable is your business?