Step-by-Step Guide to Develop a Strategy to Scale Your Business in 2021Editorial Team
No matter what stage your business is at, it’s never too soon to have a scaling-up strategy in place. It can always be amended as you go, but being mindful of where your business can use an efficiency boost will always be a winning strategy.
Keep in mind, however, that this is not a guide to grow your business. This is a guide to increase the efficiency of your business as you grow.
Scaling does not just mean increasing your sales, it means simultaneously increasing your efficiency – because the last thing you want is the day where your sales are outpacing your capacity and you’re incapable of fulfilling them.
Instead of waiting for that day, make a plan now using the following steps:
1. Envision The Future
Whether you currently sell on Amazon and dream of your own ecommerce shop, or you sell primarily on social media but eventually want a big deal with a big box store, you need to keep that target in mind.
Building a roadmap of your ideal vision for your business will help keep you focused on your targets, mindful of making choices that facilitate growth, and keep you from getting bogged down in the day to day. It will also help you keep scaling possibilities at the back of your mind as you travel along with your roadmap, even if some of the milestones change.
This doesn’t need to be set in stone; you should be keeping a close eye on ecommerce trends as they evolve each year and predictions for the future, and you can fold those changes into your own personal roadmap as you go.
2. Identify Scalable Processes
Because scaling is a somewhat broad concept, it can’t be applied equally to all areas of your business. Some pieces of your business will be easier to scale than others, and some will offer better returns.
It’s best to get a good idea of where you want to target your scaling efforts, and what that roadmap looks like.
There are some questions you can ask yourself as you go to start compiling a list of targets. What parts of your business can be done passively? Passive income is the dream of many an entrepreneur – what areas can feasibly be passive? What are you doing manually that could be automated?
Think empty cart reminder emails, reports, re-ordering, anything that could be handled by software instead of you. Can you outsource some of your tasks? Can you convert your store into a multi-vendor marketplace? Outsourcing is a great strategy for growth, as it allows you to build on your current success exponentially.
It may not make sense to make the investment now, but one day it will, especially for areas like content writing, graphic design, customer service, and order fulfillment.
3. Create Correlated Milestones
Now that you know what can be scaled, you can turn your attention to what should be scaled, and when. Sure, you could invest in a customer service team to answer questions from visitors to your site at all hours, but are you even getting the traffic to justify that expense? Probably not.
But it’s worth doing some research into the areas you want to invest in, get an idea of how much they will cost, and create a target at which it will be worth it to invest.
Create a milestone, or even multiple milestones, for each scalable process within your business. If you are manually sending out emails right now, consider creating targets for conversion and size of your email list that once you hit, you’ll feel good investing in a service that will make that process easier.
If you dream of investing in an inventory management software that will automatically track inventory and re-order for you, keep an eye on how much time that process takes you manually, and decide when the time invested is not worth it anymore.
By creating specific and achievable goals, you will have clear numbers to work towards; instead of the more vague goal of “have enough sales to afford an inventory management system,” you can say “once I’m spending more than X amount of time per week taking inventory and putting in orders, I will invest in an inventory management system.”
4. Target a Revenue Stream
Where you find the money will vary from business to business, but this should all be a part of the larger goals of the growth of your business. The money has to come from somewhere, and the sooner you figure out where the sooner you can point your efforts in that direction.
The good news is, you have a few options to choose from. You can keep it lean and independent and say that the only money you’ll invest will come from profits – in that case, do you need to invest in advertising to bring in more sales? Invest in a sales team to hunt down leads? Determine how you are going to increase your sales to assist in your scaling efforts.
If you need a bigger infusion of cash than simply increasing your sales can support (in the short term), you can aim for venture capital funding or even a bank loan. This will require a clear vision of the future that you can persuade others to get on board with, and definitive proof that you’ll be making the sales to make their investment worth it.
You can also combine multiple revenue streams, like loans, investors, and even applying for grants if you qualify. Determining where the money is going to come from will help you convince the people holding the money to hand it over, or keep you focused on staying lean and investing smartly so you can support your own growth.
5. Stay Flexible
While staying laser-focused on your goals is admirable, don’t get tunnel vision. You may find that your expectations were a little off-base. Maybe you spend less time taking inventory than you thought you would.
Maybe guest blogging isn’t panning out the way you thought it would. Maybe there’s more interest from customers in a product you thought was going to be a one-off. Maybe there’s a global pandemic that completely changed customer behavior.
Whatever happens, being able to adapt is the hallmark of a good business, so don’t ignore the signs that may be pointing you in a different direction.
We all love the graph that goes straight up and to the right, but business (and life) rarely goes up consistently, or even linearly. However, having a clear vision for the future of your business, and milestones you want to hit along the way, can help smooth some bumps in the road and keep you focused on maximizing your growth and your efficiency.
Jake Rheude is the Director of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in ecommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.