The dictionary defines an entrepreneur as “a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.” If an entrepreneur takes on more financial risk, there needs to be potential for a reward or payback. This can take time; the payback for effort, investment, and risk may take years to realize.
In addition to financial rewards, owners of successful companies enjoy more freedom than most people and tend to have the opportunity to design their work in a way that allows them to spend more time doing what they enjoy while hiring others to do things they don’t.
None of this happens by accident. In this article, we will explore what it means to scale your business for success.
The Difference Between Scaling Your Business and Growing Your Business
There’s a difference between scaling and growing a business. Growing is linear such that greater effort results in greater output in equal proportion. Many solopreneurs who charge an hourly rate operate this way; work more hours, generate more output. Yes, this is growth, but the business is not scaling.
Scaling means changing the way the work gets done. Organizing people, tasks, and processes in synergistic ways such that the effort to output equation is not linear, and begins to curve towards exponential. Imagine a company produces 100 widgets (product or service) at a cost of 100 effort-hours (or dollars if you prefer). Scaling would mean finding a way to produce 500 widgets for less than 400 effort-hours (or better).
The 4 Laws For Success When Scaling Your Business
A saying we’ve used for years here at Results is, “you won’t scale your business, your people will.” Therefore, it’s no surprise that these laws focus very much on the people aspects of your organization.
Law #1 | Expressly Define the Goal and the Plan
When companies are very small, the plans and personality of the firm reside in the heart and mind of the owner/founder. And because this person works in the business daily, those elements are embodied in that person’s actions continuously. But as an organization grows and more people are employed, the values and plans need to get out of the founder’s head, written down, and shared with all team members.
As we’ve written in a previous article, we see this being critical at about the 20 employee mark. Often companies get stuck at this point, and the leader can’t figure out why they are unable to grow further. This is where the express documentation of the following elements will help:
- The core values and purpose of the company defining the unique principles and guidelines for behaviour within the firm.
- A vision and strategic plan that defines where the company is trying to go, what position it has in the competitive landscape, what resources are available, and what key projects or priorities are the focus in both the long and short term.
- The core processes the firm uses to create value, with appropriate documentation to ensure consistency and repeatability.
- The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) so employees have feedback on how their actions and decisions influence the overall performance of the company.
Law #2 | Attract and Retain A Players
Every business leader knows that when they have great employees their job is easy and the business seems to run smoothly. And when mediocre or poor performers are on the roster, B and C Players, their job is tedious and time-consuming, and the output of the firm overall is poor.
Disciplined use of best-practice people systems – recruiting, engagement, performance management, and accountability – is the answer to hiring and retaining A players.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Law #3 | Become a Coach
The capability and capacity of any organization is the sum of the skills, talents and abilities of all employees. Leaders and owners play a large role here in helping people develop their skills by shifting their own identity and function from player to coach.
Further, like a coach in sports, leaders play a role in ensuring people are in the best positions to play to their strengths. This is where deliberate role design, the distribution of work, and organizational structure become important as part of the scaling process. As a company scales, roles and structure must change.
Law #4 | Get Out of People’s Way
It’s often difficult for company founders to give up control, but it is key to scaling the business. If every activity has to go through one person, then that person becomes the bottleneck.
Giving up control isn’t an abdication of responsibility. It involves a specific and formal process for delegation to ensure that decisions and actions are taken consistently even when the leader is not involved directly.
The Benefits of Scaling a Business
Using the above techniques ensures you are scaling your businesses in a structured and sustainable way. It will accelerate the growth of the company while tipping the effort- return equation in a positive direction.
Further, what many business owners don’t realize is that a business that runs without the founder/owner is more valuable. It will garner a higher value if the owner wants to sell someday, or it becomes an income generator if the owner chooses to keep it as an investment while moving on to other ventures or adventures.
Scaling a business is often the reason a business owner will search for an outside consultant or advisor. A skilled advisor can work with an owner or leadership team to build a strong foundation and accelerate the scaling process.
If you are interested in learning more or applying for a complimentary Business Execution Assessment to see how scalable your company is, please get in touch with our team.