No business owner is jonesing for his or her company to grow stagnant. Continual growth is always the goal, and that means planning for an uptick in workload that you have been working on and planning for.
While scaling your company for future growth is an essential part of the process, it's also exceedingly dangerous. According to research from the Startup Genome Project, 90 percent of startups fail not because of the competition, but from self-inflicted wounds. In fact, the 10 percent of businesses that do scale successfully still have a few near-death experiences before hitting consistent growth.
Scaling brings with it countless potential missteps. In some cases, companies overspend on customer acquisition strategies before they have a clear idea whether there's a real fit for their product in the market. Other times, business leaders start hiring employees with high price tags long before there is sufficient cash flow to cover them. Or they may bite off more than they can chew by trying to implement too many features on day one.
Are you looking to scale your business while keeping risks to a minimum? Take these three steps to foster the growth you'd like to see.
1. Engage customers in a way that will create more brand advocates.
When you're trying to grow a business, social media can be both a good friend and an exhausting foe. Pouring money into sponsored ads can drain your marketing budget fairly quickly, but by crafting content that is optimized for sharing, you can more easily get your audience to spread the message for you. If you're wondering what this advice looks like in execution, consider Sandbox VR's social media game.
The company's location-based VR puts users into hyper-realistic game settings against pirates and zombies. To help users visualize and share the unique experience, the company creates side-by-side, customized YouTube clips that show players interacting with the technology as well as what they see as they play the game. Customers want to share the videos with their friends for laughs and bragging rights, but in doing so, they also highlight how innovative and enjoyable an atmosphere Sandbox VR provides. While engaging its customers, the company has found a way to turn them into brand advocates as well.
2. Let your packaging tell your story.
As any good marketer or salesperson understands, the packaging is a major aspect of what entices a customer to make a purchase. Getting this right is relatively easy for products that solve a clear-cut problem with a clear-cut solution, such as using a toaster oven to heat your food or a charger to juice up your smartphone. For those of you selling a service, it can be tougher to "package" your offering for customers. Just remember that packaging is really just a presentation of what you have to offer.
Consider what tangible outcome or value customers obtain from your service. No litany of benefits can beat a well-articulated narrative that defines the problem you're solving and the specific outcomes that customers can expect when they use your service. Whether you tell this story via your website, physical signage, or printed materials -- or all three -- the key is to make your branding and the value you provide clear on whichever packaging you choose.
3. Focus on scaling rather than day-to-day operations.
I'm a big believer in taking time to work on the business, not just at the business. Heed the example of Ben Walker, CEO for Transcription Outsourcing, LLC, who isn't afraid to let his employees run the office while he concentrates on marketing the company and networking. Walker recalls, "A large government agency was upset with us because we turned in some work late. Instead of letting it go, I jumped on a plane and flew out to see the client." By leaving daily operations in his associates' capable hands and going where he was truly needed, Walker not only salvaged the relationship but gained additional agency referrals.
While it may take a while to truly adopt this working on rather than working at mindset, you won't regret giving your employees more freedom to handle the day-to-day work of keeping the business running. This approach will allow you to give your scaling efforts the attention they require to yield business growth.