Scaling a business is a high-wire act that demands – among other things – financial sensibility, shrewd business acumen, people skills and effective management. As opposed to the growth stage, when a company focuses on expanding its resources and revenue, scaling involves expanding revenue while keeping resources in check. Sometimes, it’s an uneasy balance to strike.
If your business is looking to scale effectively, your best resource is the people who’ve been there before. This article gathers together sage advice from four different business experts on how to scale your company for the best shot at long-term success.
Establish Roles, Hierarchy and Process
Our first tip is from Bob Sutton, organizational behaviour expert at the Stanford School of Engineering, together with Chris Fry, Twitter’s head of engineering.
Sutton’s research into successful scaling led him to the conclusion that businesses “need more roles, more hierarchy, more process.” He argues that, by effectively structuring your organization around well-defined hierarchal roles, you mitigate “cognitive load.”
If that sounds more intellectual than actionable, consider Chris Fry’s application of the principle. He advocates for “small, stable groups” forming the basis of your organizational structure, rather than large, unwieldy teams that need constant coordination.
Find a Credible Lead Investor
This nugget of wisdom comes courtesy of Regan McGee, CEO and founder of Nobul. Back in April, McGee sat down with Medium to discuss the success of his real estate digital marketplace – and the state of the real estate industry on the whole. He recounts a story of his first high-profile panel event in real estate, rubbing shoulders with venture capitalists.
When a VC confided in him that his investments follow other major VC investments, McGee was shocked. “It taught me about how capital raising really works. If you want to take your high-growth tech company from startup to successfully operating at scale, you need a highly credible lead investor.”
Funding is obviously a significant component of successful scaling. Finding just one champion – one credible VC to invest, guide and motivate you – can make all the difference during the scaling stage.
Even as More People Have Your Ear, Listen to Yourself
Advice doesn’t always have to be technical or pragmatic. Some of the best tips concern the emotional and philosophical impacts of scaling a company.
Stacy Havener, CEO of Havener Capital Partners, offers a much simpler piece of advice: “Stop saying what you think people want to hear.” When scaling a business, it’s vital to continue aligning your values and actions, which demonstrates authenticity and organizational control. Everyone, from customers to clients, investors to employees, respond better to an authentic company. So “Stop trying to be the version of you that you think your clients want you to be.”
Lastly, let’s leave on this cautionary quote from Leapwork CEO Christian Frederiksen: “One of the biggest problems I see with businesses trying to scale is that they allow their product quality or customer service to deteriorate in an effort to gain new customers.”
“Product and service quality,” Frederiksen maintains, “should always be your number one priority.”
If you’re looking to take your business to the next level, follow these four indispensable tips from experts who’ve successfully scaled their enterprises.