How can small businesses upscale quickly?

So, your small business has made it this far. You’ve managed to navigate your operation through the stormy waters that came when you launched.

You’ve ticked all the boxes that needed to be ticked, kept everything on an even keel and your business is doing well. Now, you’re thinking it might be consider growing your venture, so your thoughts are turning to upscaling. Whatever you’re looking to do – increase sales, tap into a new market or open new offices – it will involve a lot of planning and a lot of investment, both from a financial and personal point of view. And with 60% of small businesses failing within the first five years, it doesn’t come risk-free! If you’re thinking of upscaling, here are 5 great tips to make sure you do it quickly, and as safely as possible.

Watch your competitors

If you want to grow your company quickly, you need to have a real understanding of the market you operate in and how competitive you are with your rivals. If you’re not looking at what your competitors are doing, it’s impossible to gauge where you are as a business, or what your customers really think. It makes it exceptionally hard to identify both the opportunities that will allow you to grow and the threats you will need to handle. Take an in-depth look at your rivals and gather all the data you can. See what works for them and build into your own strategy. If you find a gap you think you can exploit, then pivot towards it quickly and beat the competition. 

Planning

Once you have decided to upscale, then the next step is to plan your expansion. Identify and understand what resources your company has – cash, people, equipment etc – and what you are competent at. This knowledge will allow you to decide if you have everything you need to grow or if you need to invest in extra resources. Put together a realistic plan for growth and accompany it with a well-researched budgetary element. Plan for all eventualities with best-case and worst-case scenario strategies. Keep thinking about risk and how it can be mitigated. What will you do if problems arise?

Funding

To grow, you need to invest. To make more money, you’re going to have to spend some at the outset. If you’re business is doing well enough that you can invest from within it, then you’re in a great place. But for most small businesses, expansion often requires outside capital, either from a financial institution or from investors. Here’s where your planning comes in. To get your hands on funds, you’re going to need a detailed business plan that demonstrates clear financial return. You’ll need to show what their investment will be used for, and you’ll need to have quick and sound answers to the many questions that will come your way. Stay close to the source of your funding and be nimble – your business may need a quick injection of capital to take advantage of major opportunities in the future.

Marketing

Whatever goods or services you provide, and no matter how good they are, if you don’t get your marketing in order, you have little chance of being able to grow. Without it, you cannot connect to the audience you need and generate the leads to convert into sales. If you want your brand out there, then investing in marketing is a priority. Your marketing efforts need to be worked on consistently and continually. Look to hire a marketing agency. They will get your website working as it should be with great content. They’ll also find the best channels for your company to get your message where it needs to be and analyse the all-important audience data that will inform your every marketing move.

Outsource

If you’re looking to upscale, you’ll need to stay on top of the increase in operational requirements and the accompanying admin. This is not something you should look to do on your own. It is very likely your upscaled company will require more employees. This can be a major challenge for businesses looking to grow. Crucially, it is not about numbers, but rather the expertise you bring into the company. Recruiting the right people is time consuming, and the more time you spend on it, the less time you are spending on strategy, which is what ultimately will grow your business. Many businesses these days also don’t need full-time and permanent staff – especially if they’re upscaling for a single project rather than something more lasting. It is no surprise that small businesses are increasingly outsourcing to companies offering staff augmentation services to provide fill the skills gap to allow them to upscale speedily, efficiently, flexibly and cost-effectively. These companies act as an extension of your business, bringing the right expertise to your operation just when you need it. 

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