You had an excellent idea for a small business and worked hard to make it happen. Now that you’ve been in business for a while, you’re beginning to realize that your small business isn’t so small anymore. Sometimes, small businesses are reluctant to give up their “small business” designation. The small, intimate setting is comfortable and safe; it gives you the confidence to keep working hard, while moving up to a “big business” designation feels terrifying. The fact is, you can’t keep running your big business in the same way that you ran your small business and expect good results. Here are four steps for scaling up your business.
1. Plan for Growth
The number one thing that holds small businesses back from becoming successful big businesses is that they are stuck in a small-business mindset. You need a solid transition strategy if you hope to grow your business from small to spectacular. Ask yourself where you hope to be in three years, then list the steps you’ll need to take to achieve those goals. Give extra consideration to the number of staff, space, and technology resources, such as a management platform that you’ll need. Managing a big business requires different strategies than you used in your small business and can require more from your team members if you aren’t careful about how you grow.
2. Work with Your Team
When you realize that you’re no longer a small business, you must look at your employees first. How is morale? Have you seen a lot of staff turnover recently? When a company grows without adequately planning for growth, there is often a lot of strain on the existing employees. Talk to your team and find out how they’re doing. Do your dreams and goals feel realistic, or are they drowning in a sea of your entrepreneurial enthusiasm? Tap other successful businesses that used to be small like you and ask for ideas for employee retention. It’s important to keep your best talent, so learn how to motivate people to stay.
3. Collect Input
You can quickly learn about how to motivate your employees by collecting input. Send out a survey and allow people to respond anonymously. It’s best to include some ideas that you feel are realistic for your business (a certain amount of increased pay, flex days, special events, etc.) and also leave room for suggestions.
It’s also crucial to seek input from your clients as you grow. Ask them how your growth has impacted their perception of your business. Are you still communicative, reliable, and competitive? Has anything fallen by the wayside as you’ve gotten bigger? Use the feedback you receive in your strategizing sessions.
4. Provide Resources
Imagine that you want to build an inground pool. You save some money and get the work lined up, but everything comes to a grinding halt halfway through because you ran out of money. You could try to finish the pool yourself without skill or the proper resources or look into affordable pool loans to finish the job correctly. In one scenario, you’ll probably end up arguing with your family a lot, and you may never enjoy the pool. Conversely, if you invest in having the job done right, the time you spend poolside with your family is comfortable and refreshing.
Apply this exact scenario to your business transition from small to big. You could try to keep running your increasingly big business the same way you ran your small business, but you’ll likely set your team and company up for failure without the proper resources such as personnel, training, and materials. Instead, be realistic about how much time, energy, and money you need to invest in scaling up your business. Help your team succeed by ensuring they have what they need to continue doing their jobs well.
It feels incredible to see your company growing. Be intentional about how you grow so that your big business has all the appeal of your small business, even as it learns how to operate differently.