Scale Up your Start Up (or any of stage of business)

Your business is up and running, new products are set to be released and customers are delighted. Growth continues but is slowing down and you know that to move to the next level that you need to recruit the next level of talent and that will take some serious capital

When you’re looking to seriously scale, most business owners will look for Venture Capital and seek to raise funds via a share issue.

But are you ready for this level yet and what does it mean when you need to grow more?

Some Venture Capitalists see business with less than 100 employees as ‘lifestyle’ business. The founder has found success and built a team around them that run the business for them, allowing them time away from the business to indulge in their life pleasures. The trouble is that once the founders have secured enough of an income to be able to live the life they wanted then the fire in their belly that got them to where they are right now is extinguished.

Their drive for continued growth is dampened as they have everything that they want and this then makes them ‘un-investible’.

Now this may be good enough for most SME entrepreneurs, but how do we help business owners get from startup and through Scale Up.

How do you get your company through the teenage years and emerge from being an ugly duckling to become a beautiful swan?

We start with something simple, being honest about what drives you to attain your goals.

There’s no sitting still in business – you’re either moving forwards, or slipping back. Not literally backwards, but when you stop others around you will continue to grow and develop and as a direct result your market share will shrink.

Your decision is to be honest to yourself; are you really looking for the next challenge, the next opportunity and the next stage of your business and ultimately yourself?

Or are you ‘settled’?

If you have that fire in your belly after start up then it can burn brighter during Scale Up, after all, scaling-up is just as exciting as a starting up. It’s just a different set of challenges and hurdles to get over.

Those hurdles at startup stage, like finding and keeping a customer, may have seemed big at the time. But during scale up you need to figure out how to find and keep hundreds of customers, each week. The hurdles just grow in size but how you tackle them is exactly the same, systematically and methodically.

You need to find your motivation and learn very quickly how to systemise every aspect of your business. But this isn’t just about you, this drive needs to be instilled in your team, and fast.

This is simply the most critical aspect of scaling, building a team and engendering the right culture within them.

Give your team the ability to feel empowered and in charge of their own destiny whilst driving your business forwards. You need to allow the team around you to make decisions, to make mistakes, to challenge the thoughts of those around them and to ultimately own the change project.

After all, your business is changing from the ugly duckling to the beautiful swan.

This is when many entrepreneurs fail. During this transitional phrase when control slips away from them directly and into the hands of the Management Team or Board.

To scale, you need to change, both as an individual and as a business.

If you’re at the beginning of your Scale Up journey, then there are a few options available.

You may simply sell more of the same stuff to the same people and take market share. But there are two others routes to Scale Up too. You can either;

  • enter new markets and/or
  • define and innovate new products

Each of these avenues should build on the progress you’ve already made.

Whichever route you choose, the key to success lies in thorough research, and making sure you definitely have the resources to pursue new avenues – without neglecting your existing business.

Whatever route your chose, it will be hard, but not as hard as the Start Up.

The first million is hard, after that you’ve learnt the hard lessons in business and the next million is just about amplification.