Scaling up your business

women in finance

Many clients come to us because they’re stuck.

Some have achieved reasonable growth but hit a glass ceiling, others lack knowledge of scaling up and some even feel slightly scared by the prospect. Here are my top tips for businesses.

When people start thinking about scaling up their business, many would assume the word ‘scalability’ is all about the ability to grow headline revenue for their business. However, true success of scaling up your business is how you scale up and adapt to a larger workload without compromising on performance or losing revenue.

There are several principles I have personally adhered to, or experienced, throughout my career that have led to successful growth strategies, and I’ve also seen businesses fall short for not following the basics.

At the very core of the business trying to scale up are the mindsets of the leaders trying to implement change. Sure, you need to have the right systems, processes, people and plans, but the best and most successful businesses are the ones that don’t base their decisions on where they are now, but rather what they want to become. It is important to have definite objectives; for example, the decisions you make as a £5M EBITDA-a-year business are different to one that delivers £15M. If you want to become a £15M+ business, you need to start thinking like one.

To succeed in scaling up, the five core principles to follow are:

Get the basics right and remain true to your core business principles

Before you consider scaling up, no matter if you’re a startup or a more established organisation, make sure your fundamentals are foolproof and your core product remains market fit. Continue to speak with your largest core users, ensuring the product is still delivering what they need, as other areas of the business will start to compete for your time and attention when scaling up. Never lose sight of the importance of safeguarding your business values – they’ve helped you to be successful up to this point, so they should never be compromised.

Be ruthlessly efficient with your costs

When your business begins to scale, things could start to creak. Weaknesses can be exposed and can’t always be fixed by throwing money at them, especially for startups. You could be held back by your IT systems, processes, cash flow, team or all the aforementioned. One way to control your costs, yet be strong enough to grow, is to outsource all non-essential roles. The lean outsourcing approach allows you to source outside expertise when required to, allowing you to focus on what you’re good at and deliver your core competencies – this will see your business deliver incremental growth.

Build the right team

A business is only scalable when it has the right people doing the right jobs. In order to be truly scalable, your business should be able to function just fine without you. Everyone must realise the importance of your business values and continue to deliver the consistency and quality that made your core business a success. Create the right culture and an environment where people want to excel – then get out of the way and let them get on with it! All team members must be properly engaged, motivated, recognised and success ultimately rewarded. This doesn’t however mean that you should recruit extra headcount just to fill desk space; if you have a human doing something that a machine can do, you’re wasting human effort. To scale up efficiently, and as discussed in point 3, you need to automate any possible processes in order to manage costs and to maximize the output of human team members.

Never compromise on quality

There’s little point growing your business if your products or customer service deteriorates, as your customers will ultimately go elsewhere. Having the right processes, culture and staff is key to maintaining quality throughout. Mistakes will still happen, but understand why they happen, learn from them, get better and don’t repeat them. Never compromise on quality.

Can you predict the future?

Probably not, and having the right product or idea doesn’t always guarantee you success. Be honest and pragmatic. You will experience difficulties on your journey, which you need to deal with quickly and efficiently, before they damage your business. Always think about what could harm or slow down your ambitions. What can you do to address your weaknesses and the threats they could pose? Always stay close to your finances and measure your performance against your overarching objective daily, because that will give you 365 opportunities a year to put things right.

About Michael Kalli and The Dining Club Group

The Dining Club Group comprises of three leading dining discount schemes including tastecard, Gourmet Society and hi-life.  The brand is collectively the largest dining club in the world with over 4 million members and over 10,000 participating restaurants.  Members spend in excess of £600M annually within the restaurants.

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