Before any other considerations are made, the scalability of a small business depends on one’s awareness of current metrics. One must understand every variable in their business, especially in the context of what role it will play in the future. It’s pretty simple, right? It’s the same vigilance you would practice during the first weeks and months of your startup. In fact, there are only a few differences between the vigilance one practices while running a new business and that which is exercised during periods of accelerated growth. There is one subtle difference: You’re placing many of your concerns in the context of projected trends and what those trends will do for you down the road.
1. Good housekeeping and some self-study can go a long way when clearing a path for expansion. Again, some of these may look familiar.
- Study your revenue stream: What are your current sales and net profits? B . Study your competition: Knowing about your competition is a big deal. Follow the example of big business and appreciate the value of knowing who you’re up against.
- Study your supplier's history and capabilities.
- Review your steps to reaching Minimum Viable Product (MVP). It often provides insight as to where your path should take you in the future.
- Online tools: Analytics, project management, and a host of cloud-based services made the issue of operations and document management one, which can be handled proficiently, even with a shoestring budget.
- Social Media: As a marketing tool, social media is a vital part of any startup. Between the enormous array of Google products and the choice of formats among Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, etc., there’s too much to mention within the scope of this article, suffice to say that any marketing campaign or online search for investment dollars will likely involve social media. It’s strongly recommended that these options be thoroughly explored and examined.
2. Founder Control: After a company becomes profitable and is preparing for the next step, founder control can develop into a complicated topic. It’s the ambition of almost every entrepreneur to maintain founder control as the company prospers, at least in the beginning. After all, it’s the founder's vision that put the company on the map...right? However, some research suggests that maintaining such control a limiting factor on start-ups’ success. It’s among the most difficult topics for any entrepreneur exploring growth options.
3. Finance and Capital: To take your business to the next step, an infusion of cash might be in order. We’ve seen a lack of access to traditional lending institutions in recent years. The emergence of crowdfunding does more than make-up of for it, especially when grouped together with a flurry of activity among independent investors who have been excited about profiting from a surge of startup activity in recent years. And despite its recent lack of progress, the federal government has actually recognized the potential of crowdfunding and has created some benefits to help startups prosper.
4. Stay flexible and capable of pivoting: Due to competing products and/or services, you may be required to shift your focus and reexamine the features that distinguish your business from others. You may also be compelled to make changes to your product in response to new discoveries.
5. Prepare for setbacks: It’s not always about progress. You must also defend against threats to your business. Contingencies play a vital role. It doesn’t have to be especially complex, so long as you’re cognizant of adversity around the next corner. Be prepared for it. Create a business contingency plan so that if there is something that gets in the way of your progress, you can get around it as quickly as possible. In the long-term, it will affect your ability to grow.
The best advice is grounded in common sense. Keep your house in order, loosen your grip and stay flexible when times demand it. Keep an ear to the ground for opportunities, and a hand on the wheel to keep you on course. Good luck!
About the author: Ivan Serrano is a global business and social media journalist from San Jose, California.