When I started my first small business in 2013, I had a lot of plans on how to expand. They were awesome plans, very beautiful on paper. My major challenge was implementing them.
One year later, I had to painfully admit that my small business had not moved ahead. In fact, my small business was failing as it were. My plan to expand was defeated. I felt miserable. I learned the hard way that starting a business was easy compared to scaling it.
According to this report, about 20% of small businesses hit rock-bottom in their first year, while 30% of those that survive the first year fail in their second year. The report goes on to suggest that 50% of small businesses fail after five years in business and 70% in 10 years. The failure rate is not only alarming but remains on a steady increase.
Every business should have a growth plan right from the start. This plan should outline the necessary growth phases the business has to undergo, the timeline for execution and how this plan is to be achieved.
Scaling your business successfully is important as premature scaling can sink a promising business. According to a recent report on Forbes, just a little over 70% of new businesses fail as a result of premature scaling. So before scaling your business, you want to be sure that it is the right time and the necessary step to take.
When the right time to scale comes, you want to do it the right way. Below are four (4) essential steps I took while scaling mine.
- I considered my experience
As a first-timer, I sought out the experiences and advice of others. I remember making out time to see a successful entrepreneur who lived in my town back then just to ask him questions and learn from him. I had to find out what works in the industry I was about to enter.
Past experiences are wasted knowledge if we fail to learn from them. If you are not a first-timer business owner, then you must have some experience with scaling a business – whether successful or not. You want to sit with yourself and recall the lessons from your past scaling attempts in order to avoid a repeat.
Of course, it is important to get your own experience, but it is wise to leverage the experience of others.
Information is useless if it is not solving any real issues. Repeating the same business scaling mistakes, you or anyone has made in the past is too expensive a cost to bear. Consider your experience and those of others, check available statistics and ask questions where necessary.
2. I invested in content marketing
When I started my first online business I knew I was going to get stuck for a long time unless I found a way to attract more visitors to my site who could I could convert over time. And it was when my content marketing strategy started penetrating the market that my small business started scaling.
Content marketing offers you a platform to target and educate your business audience. If you already have a website, consider adding a blog to it. If you don’t have a website, it is necessary you get one. You are expanding, so it is time to start playing on the larger scene.
With a blog, you can share detailed product or service descriptions, your brand story and gain visibility. Be sure to choose the best blogging platform for your content marketing efforts. Focus on educating and you would gain the visibility your expanded business requires.
3. I got feedback from my customers
I had set my goals and I was determined to achieve them. But I equally understood that my small business didn’t just exist to satisfy my entrepreneurship goals. I was there to satisfy my customers.
I started asking for their feedback deliberately. I had forms and they could fill, and I equally asked for their opinions through my blog posts, email newsletters and social media posts. My goal was to serve them better and I knew I could not do it without getting their opinion on my next moves.
So if you have been collecting personal data from your customers, now is a good time to put it to good use. Create a survey and ask them to help you fill it out. You can also test run the expansion idea with them, just to see how it would work in the real world.
If you do it right, they would be happy to help, and that way they’d become your brand ambassadors. But never make the mistake of assuming your customers’ needs. It is also possible that their feedback would help you expand even more than you already planned to.
Want to serve them better and bigger? Ask them.
4. I computed a budget
I needed funds to start my first business. And when I wanted to scale it, I equally needed funds. Luckily, my small business already had a stable stream of income at that point. I did all I could to jump into expansion without creating a proper budgeting plan.
I drew up a budget to avoid unnecessary spending. And it helped me to avoid going bankrupt in the process.
You should make budgeting a core part of your business if you wish to expand anytime soon. Before you scale, you must determine what exactly it would cost to achieve the scale plan. If you don’t you won’t have a business to run at the end of the day.
Also,after drawing up your budget, you might want to consider alternative sources of raising the required funds. If you have been able to build quality relationships with your clients, it is possible to have them invest in your business growth. If people are willing to invest in your scale strategy that already speaks to its viability.
Scaling your small business can be tedious. But the essential steps contained in this piece, if followed and applied, not only gives you the edge but also sets you on the right path to a successful scaling. Don’t compromise on quality. Put your best foot forward always and invest in educating your target audience.