4 Expert Tips For Quickly Scaling A Business That’s Gaining Momentum
Getting past the first significant growth hurdle with your business is a fantastic feeling, but it can be a little scary at times, too. When initially slow growth turns into an explosive jump in new customers, many first-time entrepreneurs can find themselves in a position of not quite knowing what to do next.
Many businesses don’t capitalise on the momentum they’ve built (or have been given).
Scaling successfully is an art, and if you’ve never done it before, there will be lessons to learn along the way.
Maybe you’re working too many hours and burning out by trying to do everything on your own.
Perhaps you’ve hired too many or too few employees.
Maybe your tools and processes used to work with a smaller business are beginning to break under the strain of a more extensive customer base.
Whatever the case is, you’ll almost certainly need to change some of the ways you do business as your company scales.
As McKinsey notes, it’s tough to grow a large corporation—as only 28% of the high-growth companies it surveyed were eventually able to break $100 million in annual revenue, even with exceptional fundamentals.
To shed some more light on how to navigate these challenging growth pains, I reached out to a few experienced entrepreneurs who’ve scaled businesses of their own to get their take on things. Here’s what they had to share.
1. Be Yourself
The way you do business may change a bit, but the principles you founded your company on shouldn’t. If you lose authenticity, you’ll lose your core customers — because they want you, not some idealised version of what you and your company look like. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you need to be corporate just because you’re more extensive.
“Stop trying to be the version of you that you think your clients want you to be,” says Stacy Havener, founder and CEO of Havener Capital Partners LLC. “Stop saying what you think people want to hear—say what’s in your heart instead.
You’ll be amazed at the tribe you found and overwhelmed by the love they give you.
In turn, you’ll help them beyond measure, and you’ll keep helping them over and over again.”
A lack of authenticity with who you’re trying to be as a company will likely lead to your customers eventually noticing that your actions don’t align with your values. Throughout your growth journey, strive to stay true to who you are and continue advocating for practices that support the mission of your business.
2. Invest In Your People
People are the foundation of any successful business. Having a good team and a strong customer focus will carry you far when you’re trying to scale quickly. If your team is good and cares about both each other and your company’s values, it’ll translate through into the care they show in turn.
“From mentoring employees to choosing the right customers, people are the most important part of your business,” states Andy Klump, CEO of Clean Energy Associates (CEA).
“Investing significant efforts in recruiting A-players at an early stage is an absolute requirement.
As we’ve expanded, CEA has greatly benefitted from having a clear purpose, vision, values and reinforcing it with the team.”
Studies have shown that many people now change jobs every three to five years, which can be a relatively disruptive new reality if you lose a key player in an important role at your company. Give your employees a compelling reason to stick around, and your customers will often last longer, too.
Like it or not, it’s not only the people on your team and your customers you have to think about.
Getting the right mentorship for yourself matters, as well. “In the case of CEA, I grew my headcount from 10 to 50 team members in three years because I was helping one of my core customers solve a complex business problem from China,” Klump adds. “He mentored me and helped CEA grow in many ways, which also benefitted his business.”
Choose the voices that influence the direction of your business with care, both inside and outside the room. That’s doubly important as you try to scale your company.
3. Use Technology Effectively
Are you using technology to decrease your workload? If not, you’re going to have a hard time scaling at all.
“I got to ask John Pestana, cofounder of Omniture, about scale on our podcast, Innovation & Leadership, and his answer was straightforward,” says Jess Larsen, chairman and managing director of Greystoke Investments. “He said they had been making websites and were doing well but working a million hours.
Their friend came to the office one day and bragged that his business was making money while he slept. John decided that’s what he wanted, and it became their north star as they built Omniture.”
Technology is a growth driver for companies both big and small. As small businesses scale, they’ve seen significant returns from social media platforms like Facebook. Larger businesses can use customer relationship management tools, product information feeds and supply chain management software to streamline their processes.
Larsen appreciates how Omniture leveraged technology to scale their business. “They designed the business so that it had something not just better, but truly different to offer—and it would allow people to sign up online without his team personally being present.
Also, the system would deliver the service to more and more people without needing to hire additional staff at a linear rate.”
Omniture was able to grow its revenue so much faster than its expenses that they eventually sold for $1.8 billion to Adobe in 2009—and it’s partly because they embraced technology to scale their business without subjecting senior management to overworking themselves.
4. Focus On Experience
“No matter what, focus on the experience. Remember that what you offer to the world is an experience. It’s the one thing that can’t be commoditised, whether your company makes a great product or you are serving people,” says Ben Laws, co-founder and CEO of Evexia Wealth, investment management and wealth coaching company.
People don’t buy Tom’s shoes, shop at Walmart or eat at Chick-Fil-A just because it’s the closest or most convenient thing. They most often do it because of the experience, and one of the biggest challenges of scaling a business is retaining that vital experience as it grows.
“Experience is what makes people come back for more,” Laws adds. “Let the right people and solid processes of your company create a consistent customer experience, and you’ll already be scaling.”
Think about what sets your business apart. Your customers should have a distinct understanding of what makes you different and unique—that shouldn’t change as you scale.
Scaling a business is a unique challenge, but the right advice can make it easier. Make sure you’re taking advantage of these tips to capitalise on your momentum and ride to a bright future for your company.
5 Top Tips for Scaling Your Ecommerce Business Overseas
All e-commerce companies, large or small, face obstacles when looking to scale overseas. Despite the challenges, international growth is the most successful long-term solution to building your e-commerce brand, market share, and profits. A few of the benefits:
- Reduces risk – your business will be more immune to downturns and fluctuations in the economy if you’re taking part in multiple markets at once.
- Increases talent pool – bringing in talent based in overseas markets will assist in local scaling and adding more diversity, ideas, and traits to your workforce.
- Extends inventory – you can extend the lives of your “sunset” products by introducing them to other markets, saving money on merchandise, production, and product development.
- Levels sales cycles – different countries have different purchasing and holiday seasons. An international calendar evens out your sales cycles for more consistent cash flow.
- Provides resources – new markets can also mean new funding methods, talent, and technologies to make your global scaling a success.
- Increases credibility – Scaling overseas extends your brand reach globally, making you more credible in domestic and international markets.
But scaling overseas isn’t easy. You need to prepare your business and team properly – luckily, Seller’s Choice has outlined five top tips to help you do just that.
1. Thorough market research
The Australian market is vast—but it’s not the only marketplace in the world. Despite its size, it can also be the most volatile and fluctuating market, which can leave your products and brands in the dust. Expanding internationally is often the best way to reach a new audience and mitigate the risks associated with the Aussie marketplace.
The most apparent markets to tap into are Canada, Mexico, Europe, and Japan. They’re the easiest in terms of importing, exporting, tariffs, and taxes. They also have audiences most similar to the U.S, so your market research wouldn’t have to be as extensive.
There are several other fast-growing, less-competitive markets to which you can also consider expanding.
But how do you know if this market is right for your business? How do you select the correct country?
You need robust and comprehensive market research. Here are a few ways to conduct international research –
- Confirm that demand exists in the country you’re considering. Is there an audience for it? How large is the audience? You can discover this with web campaigns and capture forms, physical surveying in the country, and a small test campaign in that market.
- Consider the infrastructure. You want to ensure that the country has accommodations that you’re used to, like roads, running water, and real estate. Even though you’re an online business, this infrastructure can be necessary for product delivery and target marketing.
- Research your competition in that market. What does their target audience look like? How do they alter their products for that market? How can you learn from their successes and failures? A great way to learn more about the competitive landscape is with international eCommerce conferences.
- Evaluate awareness level. How much will you need to educate this market about your product? If you’re introducing a new product to the market, you’ll likely end up investing a lot of time in consumer awareness. However, that means you’ll also be the first in that market, which can make you the authority and go-to. Consider how much you will have to—and how much you’ll be able to—commit to education.
Choose the new country or market based on the potential for growth related to resources, talent, and need.
You don’t want to go in and “wing it.” One of the biggest mistakes that companies make is scaling too fast or too wide. Even if every country in the world could benefit from your product, you likely can’t climb a dozen places at once. Even the most prominent companies can’t scale at more than one or two countries at a time.
Plan your strategy with a slow and steady mindset.
You also want to strategise based on culture. Don’t assume that because one method works in America that it will work in other countries. Don’t ignore cultural differences that shape each marketplace.
These cultural differences will impact pricing, advertising, shipping, payment, production, packaging, and growth. You need to strategise and prepare for these differences.
If you’re prepared, you’ll see best to tackle obstacles and overcome them with grace and profits. Outline a formal strategy ahead of time, and it could end up being a gold mine for you.
You need a strategy that will address the following questions:
- How will our products be taxed and regulated in this country? How will we handle legality appropriately?
- How much capital do we need?
- How will we find capital?
- How will we need to adjust our product and advertising to this culture?
- How will we find talent and business partners?
You’ll need to build a pool of talent in the market in which you’re expanding. They can help your business learn and adapt to the culture while also providing you with a ground-level marketing approach.
Creating a local team helps cross bridges and overcome cultural barriers to allow your brand to better relate to your new marketplace.
Some of the talent you’ll want to hire from that country or marketplace includes:
- Product developer/consultant
You can also consider working with a foreign distributor. Distributors will purchase your products at a wholesale rate and sell your product in their stores. You hand over the reins to allow them to handle the reselling and profit-making in that country.
Because you lose some control, you want to make sure you find the right distributor to deliver by your brand. You can find foreign partners and distributors in trade groups and foreign chambers of commerce. Be sure to check references and do your due diligence before partnering.
4. Production and marketing systems
Before the expansion, you want every process to be as systemised and automated as possible.
With production, you want to ensure packaging and labelling are by the regulations of your new market. With shipping, you need to determine how you’ll get goods overseas and how you’ll keep track of packages. With marketing, you want to create a solid online and content plan to gain impressions in your new market.
Ultimately, the more systems you have in place in the U.S, the easier it will be for you to bring those same systems overseas.
Training systems overseas is much easier than building them.
One of the most challenging parts of global scaling is figuring out how to market to a new audience in a foreign country.
Seller’s Choice can help. We take your e-commerce store from a business to a brand. We’ll use market research to determine the types of content and advertisements your international markets want to see.
Expanding internationally requires financing. When you scale overseas, you can open up new avenues for funding, which can help grow your overall business.
It can be frightening to move money internationally, especially if you’re a small company. You need to feel you can trust your partners, your funders, and your transfer software.
Whether a small or large eCommerce business, you want to take care of your profits. You need to create a finance plan that will make funds available for use and safely and securely move those funds domestically and globally.
That’s where our partner OFX can assist with safe buying, selling, and trading globally. Learn more about how they work with small to medium-sized online businesses here.
Do you have a plan to scale overseas? You can see international growth by utilising thorough market research, a formal strategy, a collection of local talent, systemised processes, and a strong financing plan.
International growth is your next ample opportunity. Is your eCommerce store prepared to scale globally?