3 Points To Remember When You Look To Scale Up Your Business
When you launch your startup, your ambitions and vision will govern a lot of how you run things from the start. If you’ve always dreamt of being someone who can go toe-to-toe with Bezos and Musk, you’ll make decisions with confidence and brio. If your dream is to serve a small but loyal band of customers, you’ll focus more on pleasing people. But no matter how you start, if your business does well there will always come a time when you have to think about scaling up.
On one front, scaling up is great. It means more income, more opportunities to reach a wider audience and the chance to do new things. But it is important to keep one thing in mind. Scaling up doesn’t just mean doing the same things but bigger. It will mean wholesale changes in some areas, and those changes are things that you’ll need to price in when you’re thinking of taking things up a level. These things include:
You can run a perfectly successful small business without anyone but your close friends knowing a single thing about you. As long as you provide excellent candles, wonderful soft toys or whatever it is that you specialise in, people also won’t be that motivated to learn about you. However, the bigger you get, the more people will want to know – on every front. You’ll need to pass certain standards and inspections on an official level, and on a less official level people will want to know who this upstart is, and what are the secrets of their success. If you’re a private person, it can be quite a culture shock.
You should never be taking a product to market if it doesn’t meet certain standards, but those measures are easier to satisfy when your business is smaller. When you’re selling a few hundred pies a week, it’s easier to maintain equipment and premises. If you’re planning to scale it up to satisfy supermarket orders, then you’ll need more automated equipment, more staff, and likely premises big enough to accommodate air compressors and conveyor belts. You’ll also need dedicated cleaning staff, and to run an eye over everything in the business yourself, every day that you’re working. Bigger success means bigger standards, and bigger headaches if they’re not met.
It’s relatively easy to source supplies for a business that sells to a small local clientele or to a niche online base. However, as your business grows, you will need to think about how you meet the demands of a larger customer base. Can your current supplier meet the larger orders they’ll suddenly be receiving? Do you need to seek additional suppliers, potentially abroad? Is that even possible post-Brexit? Scaling up isn’t just about what you need in order to achieve the numbers you want – at some point you may have to consider what the maximum that you can achieve is with regard to your supply lines.
Scaling up is an exciting time in the life of a business, but it does need to be well planned, some time in advance. You may want to move fast, but thinking fast is more important at times like this.