How to scale a business quickly? More importantly, how can you scale your startup big and fast?
Creating a startup is not about generating a little extra side money from a hobby, or having fun with a small local business. True startups are about going really big, really fast. So, how do you do it?
Scaling may not happen right out of the box unless you’ve put in a lot of advance work and laid a great infrastructure far in advance of launch. Often you’ll be stumbling around the desert for a while, following a variety of mirages, trying to make something stick and take off.
When you do find something that works, how do you replicate that and multiply the results quickly? Even better, how do you create something that scales almost out of the box?
Hit Product Market Fit
Hitting product-market fit is a lot like striking oil. Once you nail it, you really know it. Business explodes and comes like a tsunami. So much that your current infrastructure can’t handle it.
If you aren’t experiencing this yet, then you may have to take a step back and rework things before you even think about trying to scale.
You may have to take a less direct path at first. You may have to begin with doing things yourself that don’t scale before you really have a polished product and system.
Most pivotal for this is to ensure you really truly understand your customer, the problem, and the solution they are actively searching for and willing to pay for. Get that, and your product roadmap should write itself.
Nail & Prove Your Unit Economics
You can’t, or at least probably shouldn’t be scaling until you’ve nailed your unit economics. Or at least until you have a path to positive income and real profits.
Many hot startups may have punted this down the road in recent history. They may be infamous for being some of the biggest and fastest-growing companies. Yet, some have also become some of the most inglorious disaster stories.
If you can secure your unit economics and have the ability to be profitable, even at scale with multiple levels of pricing and net income, then many other things can take care of themselves.
If you are profitable, you can keep on bootstrapping and use your own revenues to grow and scale.
With predictable unit economics, profitability, and organic growth, you are sure to attract inbound partnership offers and offers of funding from investors. So, how to scale a business quickly?
In some cases, the ability to scale is all about having the financial fuel. It can take a lot of money to go big and fast.
Sometimes that is about being able to manufacture, deliver and service a large amount of product or customers. As a bootstrapped startup, you might be able to win huge contracts, but if you can’t afford to deliver, you can’t scale. Or you just won’t win the big deals if you can’t prove that you have the ability to deliver.
In other cases, it is about having the capital to fuel the business and force growth. Whether by hiring, marketing, or M&A activity.
If money is the roadblock, then it may be time to refocus and make fundraising the top priority task before anything else.
Learn about the process and what you need, enroll the right advisors and consultants, craft a winning pitch deck and get out there to pitch it.
Keep in mind that in fundraising storytelling is everything. In this regard for a winning pitch deck to help you here, take a look at the template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
Crowdfunding can help accomplish multiple scaling goals at the same time. It can help raise the funding through debt, equity capital, or donations and preorders. It can also simultaneously help bring in many backers, word of mouth referrals, and brand ambassadors.
All the while helping to create more PR and marketing opportunities. Public crowdfunding campaigns can also be a great stepping stone to attracting venture capital.
There are a variety of factors that contribute to a successful crowdfunding campaign. These include a strong marketing budget and advance commitments. Even as you figure out how to raise funding, you also need to work out how to scale a business quickly.
Improve Systems & Efficiency
Scaling may also come down to having the ability to serve more customers, and faster. To do this profitability may require improving current workflows and economics. It may mean being able to achieve more productivity and output, with the same human resources.
This can be achieved by implementing and improving systems. Or by leveraging more technologies to get more done faster, without more people.
In other cases, scale comes down to having enough people power and a large enough team. That may be expanding hiring to manufacture products, to expand outbound sales, or to ship product and service customers.
This can be achieved by scaling in-house employees, using commission-based independent contractors, or other outsourced remote workers and service providers.
If you have your unit economics and systems down, then multiplying results is simply about adding more bodies.
PR & Marketing
Often the choke point for startups of all sizes is simply marketing. Either not enough is being done in terms of marketing and PR, and it is a volume problem, or it is a matter of improving advertising performance.
Scale and marketing budget are almost invariably tied together. Yet, this is one of the areas many entrepreneurs and startups seem to be the cheapest on.
This is 90% of your success. Remember that it doesn’t really matter how much you spent on creating an awesome product if no one knows about it.
Scaling quickly can be achieved in a variety of ways, with pay-for-performance online advertising like PPC often being some of the fastest to push the needle.
Expand Your Network
Often scale is about the size of your network. On a granular, basic level, a great example is that if you only know 250 people, who each know another 250, that’s your entire reach.
If you expand your personal network to 2,500, and each of those people knows 2,500 others then you’ve dramatically expanded your reach.
The exponential impact can be even far greater today if you focus on adding those with large and strong networks themselves.
We’re not only talking about landing or leveraging influencers but also leveraging real influence with real celebrities or celebrity investors and respected industry thought leaders. And, the one way to attract their attention is to grow and learn how to scale a business quickly.
Create An Enterprise Level Product
If you haven’t yet, then consider creating an enterprise-level version of your product. This is where you can tap into massive customers with tens of thousands of potential users or millions of their own customers.
Landing just one of these customers can instantly take your business to a whole new scale.
Note that enterprise customers often have a much longer sales cycle than going B2C. So, if you haven’t laid the groundwork for this years in advance, then the other option is to presell them. Meaning getting upfront funds to execute on your contract.
Rather than selling them as customers, another way to instantly supersize your business is to partner up with large companies in one way or another.
This could be partnerships in lieu of selling to enterprise customers. Or exclusive partnerships in which you cross-sell or bundle complementary products and services.
Even as you’re learning how to expand operations, here’s some added information on how to gain traction for your business. Check out this video I have put together with valuable information that helps.
Franchise Your Business
Many of the world’s largest companies are franchises. McDonald’s is the most obvious. Though in addition to all of the other fast-food franchises there are gas station brands, cleaning services, vacation concierges, gyms, and media franchises like Pokemon, which has brought in an estimated $100B in revenues.
The great thing about franchising is that your franchisees are essentially paying for your expansion. They are buying the assets, paying for the inventory and marketing, and are handling the customers, while you get large upfront payouts and ongoing royalty income.
Licensing is almost like franchising but can be much simpler. Especially for lean startups with limited funds or brand recognition.
Licensing is a more limited relationship, though can require far less investment and management. You are legally licensing the use of your trademarked or patented intellectual property and can scale almost infinitely on the dime and time of your licensees. Even some of our largest and oldest food and cereal brands started out through licensing.
Affiliates can be a more casual form of licensing and franchising. These are independent partners who pay for their own advertising and expenses to promote your products.
They receive a commission when they make sales. It is a pay-for-performance play. It is a way to scale fast, without using your own capital and team to do it. Not only is it far less risky from an expense standpoint, but it will also cost a lot less than setting up a franchise or licensing arrangement. You’ll have a lot more freedom.
You can recruit and train your own amateur affiliates, or leverage established affiliate networks to reach professional affiliates which operate at a large scale. It’s one of the best strategies of how to scale a business quickly.
In the startup world, one of the common ways to scale a business fast is to merge with or acquire competitors and complementary businesses.
M&A deals can be used to expand into new markets and geographic areas, new customer bases and segments of your total market, to achieve more efficiency in the supply chain, remove competition, or to cross over sales, or bulk hire by the thousands in one deal.
This is often done by raising outside money to leverage the purchase. Some startups have even been able to acquire even larger companies than their own.
Entrepreneurs aspire to scale. Investors expect it. Most businesses won’t last unless they can scale big, and fast to dominate their market.
There are actually many ways to increase the scale of a business. Some of these may focus on the fundamentals of your company and getting the basics right. Others center on marketing or leveraging others to sell your product. Or you can simply buy and finance scale.
How will you take your business to the next level? How to scale a business quickly?
You may find interesting as well our free library of business templates. There you will find every single template you will need when building and scaling your business completely for free. See it here.