There’s a reason why the legend of Icarus is such a great cautionary tale. Like the inventor’s son of Greek Mythology, nascent entrepreneurs are often in danger of flying too close to the sun. It’s not hard to see why. We live in an era where images of success assault us from all sides. They’re on billboards, on the sides of buses, we’re bombarded with them in commercial breaks or before we sit in the theater to see a movie. We’ve been conditioned by society to believe that we deserve it and and should, nay, must have it all right now! The trouble is that this mentality can be problematic in the world of small business. While many operators of SMEs are happy to keep their operations small, agile and responsive, there are many who have growth on their mind.
And that’s absolutely fine.
Growth is an admirable pursuit for small businesses and can lead to great success… So long as it’s done right. Some entrepreneurs propel themselves towards growth yet their businesses are completely unprepared for it when it happens. Thus, they can end up tripping over their own feet as their enterprises are unable to generate the supply necessitated by their increased demand. In order for growth to be organic and sustainable it needs to be scalable in everything from your supply chain to your IT support to your production techniques. Failing to scale your growth upwards incrementally could result in compromised or inadequate service which will invariably damage your reputation.
Here are some helpful tips for keeping your growth scalable and sustainable.
Use the cloud to your advantage
Your IT infrastructure is crucial in determining your scalability. As your operation grows so will the demands you place upon it, not just in terms of functionality but in terms of security and maintenance. Thus, using cloud based services is a great idea if you have growth in mind. Cloud based solutions can be scaled up with a minimum of disruption and expense. No servers need to be replaced and so you will have to endure neither loss of function nor a clumsy interstitial period. Moreover, you save a small fortune in labor costs and are able to scale proportionally to your growth, meaning that you only ever pay for what you need. This will keep your profit margins secure even as you grow.
Build value into your transactions to secure repeat custom
All customers are welcome, but entrepreneurs worth their salt know that repeat custom is an essential key to growth. New CEOs might be tempted to lower prices to attract more business, but this can impinge on your profit margins, making your growth more tenuous. Instead, work with your team to find ways of building value into your transactions. Customers are generally happy to pay more when they feel that they are getting good value for money. This will enable you to scale your growth upwards without drawing a volume of clientele which your business is not scaled to cope with.
Look at your business through the eyes of your customers
We can all get a bit myopic if we only ever look at the bottom line. Sometimes, looking at your business through the eyes of a customer (be it through the use of a mystery shopper or simply getting down on the shop floor by yourself) can be a real eye opener. This will enable you to see opportunities for growth but also the potential for complexity traps which could hinder your business.