Five Steps to Scaling Your Business Successfully
Many founders and their senior management are struggling to grow their companies. Want to level up from a startup to a scale-up, then into a profitable global corporation? Here is how you can make scaling up a lot easier.
Whether you are a founder or a senior manager, every decision you make towards scaling your business will have a lasting impact on your company’s future. Determining the right path requires you to use a mixture of science and intuition while filtering out any cognitive biases that might influence your decision. Hence, the importance of implementing and adjusting your company’s architecture, routines, and culture to ensure you reach your objectives while continually monitoring the progress.
Monitoring and following-through require clarity and harmony amongst all the activities and the people executing these activities. The following steps should enable you to have the minimum required visibility to align everything towards scaling up your business.
Step 1: Review your goals and plan
Defining your goal (what you want to achieve) and objectives (how and when you want to achieve it) is essential. You need to have a minimum viable plan that would prepare your mind and give you the necessary awareness and visibility to prioritize projects.
“Chance favors only the prepared mind” Louis Pasteur.
You will need to list the success factors required to complete the objectives and risks that could prevent you from meeting these objectives. Also, listing the deliverables for each project plan will help you and your team stay focused on what matters. I recommend you make a habit of including the following headings for every project.
- Success Factors
- Deliverables (Outcomes)
I use a template for all my projects, listing the goal, objectives, success factors, and deliverables. I add the risks for large projects that could lead to a direct or indirect financial loss.
Step 2: Map the activities under each value stream
A value stream is the list of activities that generate a specific value to the customer; examples include, the process of upgrading a customer’s internet speed or delivering to a customer a cleaning service by a specialized team.
To map the activities, first, list the names and descriptions of each value stream and prioritize them, if possible. Then, list the activities under each value stream. As a simple example, if you are selling and delivering food, list the steps starting from receiving the order, accepting the order, preparing the meal, putting it in a package, and leaving it for pickup by the driver until it reaches the customer. Ensure to include the resources needed to complete each step, including people, tech, time and cash.
As you introduce new services and products, you will be introducing new value streams or modifying the existing value streams. So, since you have limited resources, you must prioritize them correctly.
The example above is the structure I follow using MS Excel. The columns represent the stakeholders, and the rows represent the steps involved in delivering the value to the customer, in detail. You can also use a flowchart tool to help you map the process tasks under each step. You can download the template above through the Tools Page.
It is essential to create and maintain this reference document because it will assist you in building your capacity calculator later. This will give you a better sense of how many people you will need for each role and how much time it will take for each type of task. I will cover this in more detail in future articles.
You also have to be aware that optimizing these value streams requires an initial investment of energy, time, and money. My preferred approach is using the principles of Design Thinking, endorsed by Stanford’s Design School, which ensures that we take the lean approach and minimize expensive mistakes.
Step 3: Make sure you have the right team
Just like an orchestra, having the right people undertake the job is critical to have harmony. They must be fully engaged, motivated, have the minimum skills required to get the job done, and display ambition to grow with the company. When you empower them, they need to take accountability and do what is necessary to get the job done and do the right thing.
Step 4: Make sure you have enough cash
Unless you are from the lucky ones with tens of millions in funding, you must manage cash flow with caution. That means you have to set an investment budget (even if it is guesstimating) for each project. It is a common area of risk where you end up stretching your cash thin and failing because a lack of money triggered a delay in the project, a compromise in quality, and so on.
Step 5: Build an execution routine
It is vital to have a system for executing your plans and implementing changes. This system should stick to minimizing any risks caused by uncertainty — aligning with other executives and your team regularly.
I apply principles for managing-by-objectives, assessing the outcomes (such as units sold) and activities (such as daily follow-ups) weekly and monthly. Also, gain insights and answers by digging deep into the critical questions by speaking to the customer-facing staff or to the customers directly. Nurturing trust between you and your team will help you greatly in making accurate decisions.
Make the right calls
In conclusion, these five steps will act as pillars to help you make effective business decisions for growth. These are essential to building the foundation and giving you better clarity on the outcomes of your decisions. There is more than one right path to complete an objective successfully. It is not a complete solution as there is so much to explore in each step. You will still have to overcome resistance to change, replace unfit staff, and be firm and fair. Remove all barriers. Also, to assess your readiness to scale your business, you need to meet the minimum prerequisites, such as establishing product-market fit, having paying customers, training programs for new employees, and so on.
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