An astonishing 90% of start-ups fail. If you want to be the 1 in 10 that doesn’t, you need to know how to scale your company to take it to the next level.
To do this, you need to not only work harder, but to work smarter, too.
The start-ups that get ahead are the ones that do their research, plan ahead, continually update their processes and procedures, and work towards sustainable growth.
We’re going to share with you how you can do just that in 9 simple steps.
1. Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses
To be successful, you need to be realistic. Overconfidence in areas of weakness is potentially just as detrimental to your start-up as the underutilisation of natural strengths. Learning to identify what yours is will help you to more effectively achieve your goals.
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Performing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis on your company will allow you to see your start-up from a higher perspective. The SWOT results will allow you to put strategies in place to prepare for, or reinforce, areas of instability, as well as taking full advantage of your assets.
2. Connect with Your Customers
People like to do business with those they trust and can relate to. Connecting with your customers will make them feel prioritised and heard. This is often the deciding factor when it comes to them choosing between your or a competitor’s business.
By showing your customers you see them as more than just a potential profit, they’ll be more likely to invest their time and money with you. Plus, they may bring in more clients as a result of your trustworthy reputation.
Treat as many customers as possible with the same level of respect, patience, and genuine interest as you would a new friend. Having and maintaining a relationship with customers drives loyalty. This loyalty can help you to attract potential or future customers and build your business. Having loyal customers also highlights your integrity and makes you more reliable and secure. Essentially, loyalty drives business and creates a valuable connection that attracts even more customers.
3. Promote Customer Loyalty
Based on a 2015 consumer survey, 76% of consumers feel that a company’s customer service is a direct reflection of how much they value their customers.
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If attracting new customers is hard, achieving customer loyalty is even harder. You need to keep your customers engaged and excited about your product or offering and ensure that they keep coming back to you. But even though promoting customer loyalty may not be easy, it is vitally important for any start-up to incorporate it into their business strategy.
Some methods for promoting customer loyalty include making customer services a top priority, setting up a loyalty rewards programme (a little incentive can go a long way), and offering discounts via the “refer-a-friend” system. To keep customers excited, you can also offer prize draws or random giveaways or create exclusive shopping events that only they have access to.
The trick is to ensure that whatever loyalty or retention strategy you use has longevity. The simplest option is a loyalty card that offers a free product or discount after a certain number of purchases. Coffee shops use this strategy to great effect, and once a customer has filed a card u they get a free drink, and a new card to start the process all over again.
Promoting loyalty isn’t a once-off endeavour. Every smart business owner will have contingency plans that can kick in if initial loyalty offers fall flat. Having these plans in place shows resilience and adaptability, both of which are key traits for entrepreneurs.
4. Focus on Data-Driven Statistics and Analytics
We live in the information age, so why not use it to your benefit?
In the past, businesses have had to rely more on instinct when tracking trends and making decisions. But now, we have access to an abundance of easy-to-use programmes that can do the work for us.
Using data-driven statistics and analytics to make strategic choices for your start-up will help to mitigate bias, support innovation, and prevent avoidable mistakes founded on assumption rather than fact.
Read more: Leveraging Data And Analytics To Make Purposeful Decisions
It’s important to remember that statistics and analytics involve so much more than just numbers and graphs. Those numbers and graphs represent your future business strategy. They chart the path you need to take to achieve maximum growth and they highlight the pitfalls you need to avoid.
When developing marketing campaigns, adjusting business strategies, and gaining subtle insights, let data and analytics pave the way.
5. Hire the Right Staff and Keep Them Motivated
Do not overlook the importance of a strong team. Your staff is the driving force behind every operation. If they aren’t working cohesively, you’re in trouble. Delegate positions carefully and don’t be afraid to make changes if roles are not fulfilled the way they should be.
Supplementary reading: The 6 Most Important Tips On Hiring For Long Term Success
Keeping staff motivated will ensure that energy levels remain constant and the desire to push through difficult projects is perpetuated. Things like performing regular team-building exercises and giving frequent positive feedback can keep staff motivation levels afloat.
This may interest you: How To Hire Better
6. Invest In Yourself & Your Future
When you’re behind a start-up, you often tend to focus all your energy on keeping your business running. However, your growth is as important as your business. If you simply keep doing the same thing over and over again, you won’t learn, you won’t grow, and you won’t unlock your full potential. Just as you impede your own growth, you’ll stifle your company’s potential. Your business will stagnate, and this can bring about even greater damage than you could have expected.
A business that stagnates can lose customers as they find new and improved offerings. To be successful, you constantly need to keep tabs on trends and advancements and determine how you can implement them in your business. If you don’t continuously offer the best, most up-to-date service, clients will notice and defect elsewhere.
A simple example of stagnation hurting a business can be found online. 10 years ago, having a strong social media presence wasn’t that important. Now, however, it’s essential. Businesses that stagnated and ignored this lost out; some to the point of having to close entirely.
Investing in yourself means stopping stagnation and taking the time to learn new skills, stay on top of industry news and developments, and improve your knowledge. If you focus on the future and where you want your business to go, you can invest in yourself and ensure you have the skills and know-how to get there.
As a business leader, your staff will learn from your example. They’ll feel motivated to upskill themselves or work towards a potential promotion that’s facilitated by the growth of the company.
7. Manage Your Cash Flow
According to an analysis of 101 start-up post-mortems, poorly managed cash flow is the second-most common reason for failure. It is difficult to resist focusing on profit in the beginning, but you need to show restraint if you want your start-up to be sustainable.
This may interest you: 5 Keys to Managing Your Cash Flow So You Don’t “Grow Broke”
A huge part of what you focus on should be around spending control and savvy cash flow management. Use spreadsheets or accounting software to track every payment, and implement exact budgeting plans as far forward as you can see.
If you aren’t a math whiz, be honest with yourself and bring someone in with more experience. Alternatively, consider outsourcing the work to another small business, start-up or freelancer. This could be even more beneficial for your business as it will ensure the job gets done properly, and it will free up more of your time to focus on other areas where your strengths lie. Regardless of how you tackle the task, always remember that your cash flow is not an aspect of your start-up you can afford to make a mess of.
Read more: Strategies for Growing Your Business Through Outsourcing
8. Capitalise On Franchising, Licensing or Exporting Opportunities
A successful start-up is one that can get its product to the greatest number of people at a price point that’s profitable. This means looking for opportunities that may not be immediately obvious.
If your business model is suited to franchising, this is an excellent way to scale up quickly, enter new regions, and create broader brand recognition. Licensing is another lucrative option that can expand your reach rapidly. Another company will manufacture and sell your products, but you’ll receive royalty fees in return.
Exporting can boost growth rapidly too. In the same way that franchising helps you to reach new markets, shipping your products internationally will do the same.
Plus, you could work on a combination model of exporting and licensing if having your product both produced and sold in another country is viable.
9. Automate, Innovate and Update
Automating your start-up will help you save time, centralise communication, and provide enhanced visibility over projects. Automate your business by making use of affordable tools and programmes that streamline everything from production to data analysis and supply chain logistics. For example, by using accounts payable automation software, you can reduce the risk of AP fraud.
Listen to this bite-size podcast: Raise Your Game: Simple Ways To Encourage Creativity And Innovation
We live in a constantly evolving world, both socially and technologically. Do whatever you can to keep up-to-date with marketing trend predictions, new developments in your field, and the behavior of your competitors. Use the information you find to remain alert and open to any new product development process or innovative strategy that will benefit your business.
Your desire to discover and learn about the field your start-up exists in will inspire team members and ensure you stay on top of your game. This will take you to the next level, and your business can scale accordingly.
Supplementary reading: Quotable Quotes: Innovation
Don't miss the chance to check out the media below by our very own CEO on his breakthrough story: