by Paul F. P. Pogue
Congratulations! Business is going great, and you’ve decided it’s time to scale up to the next level. Whether you’re advancing from a solo operation to a team of four, or bumping 20 employees up to 50, keep these tips in mind for success in scaling.
1. Think about the scale you want
Increasing business is a good thing, but be prepared to live up to the commitments your increased scale will bring. If you’re a small independent contractor or a business succeeding with four or five employees, you want to be sure that you can deliver the same great service with a dozen employees, 20, or 50.
2. Consider how you got here
You’ve already scaled up at least once — from your starting point at the ground floor to wherever you are now. What did you do in the early days of your business that made it work? How did you reach those goals? What did you do right that worked, and where did you fail that hindered you? If you wrote a business plan, dust it off and evaluate how it worked out.
3. Be sure you know how your own role will change
On your own or with a handful of employees, you’re often right in the thick of it, face-to-face with clients, and possibly overseeing a crew of workers directly under you. If you expand, you may find yourself managing multiple crews — spending more of your time running the operation from the office while other people are doing the hands-on work with clients you may never see. Be ready for your day-to-day role to significantly change as you scale up.
4. Create systems today for the challenges of tomorrow
Once you successfully scale up, the last thing you want is for your operation to fail due to lack of preparation. Before you move up to the next level of your operation, make sure the systems that make it all go — such as billing, payments, transportation, supplies and scheduling — have sufficient power to handle increased demand.
5. Be ready to aggressively recruit
Finding talented workers is always a challenge, and this is particularly true in the home services industry, where skilled trade workers always find themselves in high demand. If you’re going to scale up your business, you’ll need to scale up your staff. Finding key team members needs to be an early priority in your scaling plan, because you’re going to be doing a lot of it.
6. Simplify, simplify, simplify
The bigger your business gets, the easier it is to get bogged down in details. And sometimes complexity creates the illusion of progress while keeping you from actually getting the job done. But a great leader makes complicated processes less complicated. The more your organization grows, the more you need to focus on your customers and doing the best job possible.
7. Be as good as you say you are
This may sound simple, but it’s both the first and last thing you should think about. The fact that you’re trying to scale your business indicates that you’ve been pretty successful to this point, and that you believe you can handle more. At every phase of business growth, make sure you focus first on your principles and core talents. And live up to every promise you make to consumers. Being great at what you do will translate to even greater success in scaling!