“Scaling up is every entrepreneur’s dream — and nightmare. Hypergrowth is terrifying, and it’s most often success that kills great companies.
A few enthusiasts are disrupting the world with a ground-breaking idea. By releasing an MVP they find early adopters and gain recognition. One day they decide that it’s time to accelerate the pace and start getting ready for a new spiral in business development.
Having created a feasible strategy and got investments, startuppers begin scaling a project, until…
You can continue the story yourself. The end will be either a success or a failure.
In the first case, a startup will become the next Uber or Slack, in the second — it will fade into oblivion. Unfortunately, the second scenario is much more likely than the first story.
How is it possible that some founders know the ways to scale a startup while other entrepreneurs can’t manage the process?
Let’s see where the problem lies together.
What does it mean to scale your startup or business?
First things first, let’s clarify what scaling a business means and how it’s different from growing.
Scaling is about adding business value without bearing sufficient costs. Unlike the growth strategy that implies pouring additional money into business development with a purpose to generate more profit, scaling doesn’t require increasing resources.
The pillars of a scale-up are:
- focusing on users’ needs;
- adding a product or service value;
- creating a unique selling point;
- deploying cutting-edge technologies;
- expanding without overspending.
There is no universal approach or a secret recipe on how to scale a startup. Despite tons of information and books devoted to this hot issue, a good number of startups fail on the way to achieving ambitious goals.
Among the key reasons why some projects go overboard is their inability to cater to customers’ needs, raise sufficient funds, hire the “right people, and meet the competition.
When is it the right time to scale up a startup?
Experts advise not to force things and wait until the right time to successfully scale your startup.
Otherwise, you may be prone to the above-mentioned risks and go bankrupt.
So, how do you know that your startup is ready for scaling?
- the base of your paying clients is growing;
- your team have proved their loyalty and dedication to the corporate goal;
- your cash flow is positive and stable;
- you’ve achieved predetermined goals;
- your software, equipment, and tools need upgrading to cope with new operating volumes;
- you’re aware of legal requirements for a startup scaling-up in your region.
If you’ve noticed one of these signs in your business, congratulations, your startup is ready-to-scale-up.
How to prepare your startup or business?
Note, that not all the businesses are scalable and not all the companies need 100+ employees.
If there are no tell-tales for making your business big, don’t worry — you may not need to enter this stage.
But what if there are some signs? How to effectively scale your startup then?
Here are a few tips for helping startups scale.
Set clear and achievable goals
This is probably the most important tip in the list. To transform your startup into a company with a billion revenue, concentrate on the core things rather than embrace all the aspects related to your business.
It will help you create a feasible strategy, define goals, and find ways to achieve them.
Don’t leave anything to chance, once you’ve picked the scaling path, stick to it.
Also, make sure that every team member fully understands your intentions as it’s vital that everyone moves in one direction.
Reconsider your staff
As a rule, people in startups are creative, enthusiastic, and willing to do all the jobs in the world.
If it was okay for the early stage when you all were building the foundations, now you should reconsider the roles inside the team.
Everyone should have definite and clear responsibilities and do things they’re best at.
Keep in mind, that there is no need to double your staff to succeed in scaling as it may lead to your inability to cover administrative costs.
Go public and gain recognition
If you still count on the the-word-of-mouth method or doesn’t have a strong presence in social networks, it’s time to deploy other marketing channels.
Each channel serves its own objectives and suits a certain business. It’s vital to understand what outcome you expect from your channel.
Content marketing and guest blogging work perfectly for boosting conversions and generating leads;
For those who are aimed at building communities and creating awareness, social networks such as Facebook or Instagram is an ideal means.
If your goal is to build a strong network, then you may try to conquer the LinkedIn community.
Recently, startups and businesses have discovered a new marketing channel — influencer marketing that helps them create influences and reach out to prospects.
It’s critical that your scaling won’t transform into growing. You can prevent this from by minimising your current expenditures.
Experts recommend automating and outsourcing everything you can. For instance, if you’re in travel business and need a mobile app for scaling up, there is no need to hire an in-staff development team.
You can get a remote team which most probably will cost you less as opposed to in-house development.
Conduct deep analysis with several scenarios for the course of events, it will help you make a realistic budget and identify the cost components you can’t exceed.
Keep educating and create a network
The last but not the least in our rundown of how to scale your business tips.
It’s hard, even impossible, to succeed without paying your dues. However, somebody else has already made the mistakes that you’re about to make. Learn from them!
Read as more as you can, grasp tips from experts, and try to implement them in your reality.
Establishing new business contacts, communicating with successful entrepreneurs, attending educational events — all this will help you master scaling up.
3 steps to effectively scale your startup
Unlike revolutions, scaling up doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual process where you should take consecutive steps to successfully scale your startup.
Step #1. Research. Analyse. Plan.
In the early stage, you didn’t need to do solid research and analyse metrics because a) there wasn’t enough data, b) you didn’t have professional tools (maybe).
Back then it was okay to rely on approximate stats and use Google spreadsheets to plan expenditures.
Now, that’s not enough.
Before you start business expansion you need to know where your startup is, who your competitors are, and what market perspectives are hiding from you.
With a clear plan in mind, it will be a lot easier scaling up rather than doing it rapidly and recklessly.
Step #2. Streamline business processes.
To be competitive, your business should generate maximum income at minimal costs. And automation is the best way to achieve this.
First, you should identify the most vital business processes that do not drive income and streamline them.
Among them could be:
- website management;
- metrics analysis;
- email marketing;
- client support;
- interactions via social networks.
In this case, all-in-one solutions, browser extensions, widgets may become your go-to.
Instead of wasting time on logging into each platform and analysing native stats, better get a complex report with a single takeaway.
Certainly, some issues related to customer support require human involvement. However, you can easily delegate various greetings and saying thanks to automated helpers.
Step #3. Rely on metrics.
As your business is getting mature you just can’t ignore metrics.
It’s so easy to get lost in the ocean of various data describing your operating activity, financial matters, users’ engagement, and satisfaction.
So what are your KPIs then?
In the financial group, it’s critical to track:
- monthly recurring revenue (MRR) or annual recurring revenue (ARR) generated by your product or service over time;
- customer acquisition costs (CAC) that describe the costs of attracting customers;
- the lifetime value of a client (LTV) that demonstrates the total profit gained from one client during the whole period of business relations.
As for user engagement, these indicators are to help you:
- active users per day and per month (DAU/MAU);
- stickiness that is calculated as a ratio of DAU to MAU and helps you understand how engaging your product or service is;
- the number and lengths of sessions show how different groups of clients use your product or service;
- churn is a sad metrics, reflecting the number of users who have abandoned your product or service.
There are lots of other metrics you can apply for measuring your scaling success.
Sharing our experience
Our JustCoded team does know how to scale a business and make it a success.
Here are a few of our projects demonstrating great results of the scale-up.
Archello is a revolutionary new global platform that brings together all the professionals involved in the architectural process: designers, architects, manufacturers, and contractors.
We’ve made a redesign of the platform by migrating it from Drupal 6 to the Yii 2 PHP framework. As a result, the platform has become more user-friendly, rich in features, and faster to load.
The creators of the platform are planning to extend its functionality in the nearest future by outsourcing the project to a dedicated team.
We have a detailed case study on Archello that includes tech details and describes the overall approach.
CapitalRise is another great example of a startup with a successful scale-up story.
The website offers fundraising and investing opportunities for those who are in the property business.
Among the recent projects are successfully closed real estate campaigns with appealing returns.
CapitalRise was rewarded with 2018 Resi Award for Newcomer of the Year, which proves its success in the residential property sector. What’s more, the company has recently reached its funding goal in a crowdfunding campaign at Seedrs to ensure further expansion. Way to go!
The bottom line
Now you know all the nuts and bolts of scaling your business. We can’t state that it will be very easy and fast for it’s not that easy and fast at all.
However, with our tips and recommendations on how to wisely organise the transition from the market-fit to scale-up stage the chances of your failure are very low.
Be persistent, stick to your plan, and work smart. Good luck with scaling!