Typically, when we start our businesses all we talk about is growth – we want to grow to X number of clients with $Y amount of revenue and loads of cash in the bank before retiring and reaping the rewards of our hard earned efforts – easy, eh?

It’s great to have goals for your business, but you can find yourself getting into trouble when you think too much about the ‘what’ and not enough about the ‘how.’ The idea of growth to a business owner is like a flame to a moth, we want to get there and we want it quickly. But if you want your business’ success and expansion to be sustainable, it’s best to take your time getting there AND, please note, that’s where the idea of scale comes in.

If you’re a new business owner and haven’t yet started thinking about what scaling your business will look like, don’t worry. I’m not even sure that I considered the word scale until a couple of years into owning my own business. But the fact that you’re here, reading this article, means that you are considering scaling and that you’re ready to learn how to do it. So, let’s start about learning about both growth and scale, and why the route you choose to go down definitely matters.

In business terms, growth implies that you are adding revenue at the same rate you are adding resources. If you have enough money, you can buy or rent a bigger office, recruit tons of people, or just throw money into the business with no real action plan. But, even though the term ‘growth’ sounds great, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are increasing your bottom line. Business owners that focus solely on growth could find themselves weighed down by the effort needed to manage everyone and everything they’ve taken on. Oftentimes, this new sense of overwhelming responsibility can come without the financial gains that can be associated with the idea of growth. CEOs in this position may find themselves questioning why they got into this mess when they aren’t even accumulating enough cash to make it all worthwhile. The answer to this problem is scaling.

The difference, in theory, between growth and scale is that, when you scale your business, you are creating a structure that allows you to manage the business so your revenue increases at a greater rate than your costs.

Successfully scaling a business can often be harder than it sounds but, when done well, the rewards make it worth all the trouble. When you scale your business, you’ll be able to take on more (and more) clients in a structured and cost effective way, allowing you to reap the monetary benefits of a booming business without saddling your shoulders with unnecessary stressors.

The absolute starting place to scaling your business is to ensure all your processes are in place from the get go. You’ll want to make sure that these processes are repeatable and predictable, but you also want them to be easy to change and adapt as things develop and evolve. Get all this nailed down BEFORE hiring armies of workers to deliver on your customer promise.

When we first started looking at putting our processes in place at AllCents, a fellow (and successful) bookkeeper shared this video with me. I loved it so much that we have it embedded into our onboarding process for new employees.

Take a look at how to look at the different ways to explain to an alien how to make a P&J Sandwich.

Now you may be thinking, how does a very specific lunch recipe translate into me and my business? Well, when I started writing our processes for AllCents, they obviously made sense to me. I thought they were awesome! But does that mean they make sense to others? And even if they do, much of the software tools and technologies we use continually change and evolve, are our processes clear and uncomplicated enough to be able to adapt to change and be updated as the tools we use do? When documenting your processes, you’ll want to make sure that they are so clear, even an alien could follow them.

By the time the tech and softwares that you use evolve and iterate, you (the owner) will need to have handed over ownership of updating these processes to the great team that you’ve been building, confident that they will nurture these processes. If your employees want to continue to grow as your company does (who doesn’t love a promotion?) they should know that their career development includes being completely on top of the documentation and evolution of the business processes. This way, they can teach new recruits to understand all the tools your company uses, so they can take the reins of your more tenured employees’ responsibilities as they move into bigger and better positions in the company. Make sure your employees know this and are keeping their development goals in mind when they are working with these processes.

Alright, so now you’ve gotten the most important part down by streamlining your processes, but what are the key steps you must take now to start scaling your business? How can you focus on scaling your business (and doing so quickly) while still building a strong organization?

  1. First things first, it starts with YOU – as the business owner, you must commit to scaling your business and do it early. Set aside your desire for more employees and bigger clients, and commit yourself to making sure that your businesses’ bottom line is blossoming at the same rate. Even if you are the business – commit to scaling now so you can reap the rewards of your success quickly, and not just the stress and responsibility.
  2. Next, find the right technologies that will enable you to automate your processes – use multi-modal ways of documenting how your company uses this tech. At the minimum, you should have both video and written resources available to your employees. Your future team will prefer different modes of learning and adapting based on how they operate as individuals. Ensure that you have enough resources to accommodate them from the get go. This will help your new hires jump straight in as quickly (and as informed) as possible.
  3. Then, make sure you know your core strengths – initially that will be you but, as you scale your business, that will transfer into your growing team. Learn your team’s strengths and greatest attributes, lean on these when delegating and assigning tasks, so you can focus on investing in areas that will aid in scaling.
  4. Finally, start building your network – building the right connections is crucial to successfully scaling your business. You want to connect with business owners and company officials that you can continually learn from. To effectively scale your business for the long term, learning from your peers is just as important as pivoting to contend with your competition.

*Note – don’t take the networking piece for granted. AllCents recently became Vetted ClickUp consultants, and this definitely wouldn’t have happened without the knowledge and insight our network gave us!

I know that was a lot of information and you may be feeling a bit lost or confused right now – if you are, don’t worry! AllCents is here to help – but I hope your takeaway from this post is that your success is not going to be determined just by growth. True and sustainable success is found in scaling your business; keeping costs as low as possible whilst continuing to learn and evolve from the challenges, mistakes, and changes that will inevitably happen along the way.

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AllCents Consulting, LLC,
Phone: (310) 465 9248
Email: jackie@allcentsconsulting.com