One of the biggest challenges in business has always been how to grow. How to hit the big time.
Successfully scaling a business is about as exhilarating as it gets in life. Your brain works a thousand percent faster and every day brings fresh excitement, new challenges and more opportunity.
Unfortunately, a minority of businesses ever achieve it. According to data from the Small Business Administration, only half of all new US businesses survive the first five years. So, are we content with just surviving rather than scaling?
Let’s assume you’ve got through those tough early challenges, put your amazing idea into practice and proved it works. Now you have a new set of dilemmas. What’s the best strategy for scaling and how rapidly should you pursue it? Let me offer a few pointers.
Start by asking why your business couldn’t be ten or even a hundred times bigger. If you have an idea that works in one city, why can’t it work in all cities? As long as you know how to implement the plan, there should be no limit to your ambition.
This links to the next tip – don’t be bashful about asking for large amounts of capital for your expansion. If you have confidence in your plan, you shouldn’t apologize for being ambitious. It’s important to avoid letting fear of failure shrink your ambition. On the other hand you mustn’t let your confidence outrun your experience or abilities.
Now think about all the options. Exactly how will you pursue your expansion plan? Will you focus on recruitment, productivity or technology, for example? Technology is the one thing that puts power at the fingertips of every entrepreneur and knows no barriers or borders. It’s truly global and always scalable. The internet can give you access to a global marketplace that is waiting to be unlocked.
This brings us to teamwork. To scale, you must bring people on your journey and learn the art of teamwork, delegation and collaboration. Once you’re building your team, empower them to think big and do things out of their comfort zone. My PA for 30 years, Blair, used to say people would come out my office, moaning that they didn’t know how to do what I was asking them to have a go at. She’d always tell them straight: “If you just bitch and moan then he’ll never ask you to do anything ever again” … She was right!
Teamwork can be hard for many entrepreneurs, especially if they started young. Bear in mind that being part of a team gives you access to a wider pool of ideas and new perspectives. Facebook would still be a social platform for elite universities if Zuckerberg had not seen its massive potential and persuaded others to join him.
A team is certain to include operations people who will counterbalance any superhero tendencies you’ve developed, keeping you in touch with reality.
Finally, it’s worth considering whether you plan to sell the business. You may want to move on to new challenges. To be well paid for your inspiration and hard work, you’ll have to show your business has the potential to grow in a big way. That’s the only reason buyers will pay many multiples on cashflow. Always think global, think scale, think Total Rethink!
These are just a few tips I’d offer anyone with ambition for their business. Scaling up into the stratosphere is a fantastic experience. I hope you get to enjoy it.