How Do You Know When to Scale Your Business?

Your startup cannot be successful without an understanding of what ‘scale’ means. While you need to understand how automation and outsourcing work in your favor, in the beginning, it is the unscalable aspects of your business that will mean the most.

Doing things that don’t scale is the foundation of Paul Graham’s approach to building a successful startup, and he has a host of stories that support his argument. The most successful companies didn’t automate and scale every aspect of the business as they begin, they first work to generate momentum.

The idea is that you forget the big stuff for a while and focus on the labor-intensive, but ultimately rewarding, aspects of the business to create a foundation for your business. Graham uses Airbnb as an example. As a start-up, a group of 30 sales representatives door knocked in New York to sign up people to the business and visited those who were signed up to promote further business. It clearly worked, and it is clearly unscalable. At some point, when the business was ready, this model changed, but in order for the b business to start, it needed this hands-on approach to give the project legitimacy.

Focus on the Best Accounts

When you find an account so large that it could completely change the growth trajectory of your entire company, you need to focus on closing that deal.

That means a personalized service that involves human contact, relationship creation, trust-building, and genuine rapport between business partners. This is because when you are trying to secure a contract for millions, perhaps even billions of dollars, people don’t want a standard answer, they don’t care how you have segmented their business needs and identified them as belonging to a certain group. This customer is unique and has the clout to choose whoever they want to do business with, so it is vital that your sales team offer a personalized experience, every time.

While scalable strategies based on automated email workflows may help you close low and mid-tier accounts, enterprise-level companies need enterprise-level attention.

  • Offer a personalized service for high yield accounts with a dedicated account manager assigned to the account
  • Know your client. Do internal research to understand every aspect of their business, their needs, goals, values, and partnerships
  • Where possible, meet such clients in person

Show Prospects You Care

When you are starting out, make a point of calling each and every prospect. Let interested customers know that you are never too busy for them, that you will go out of your way to talk with them, solve their problems, answer their questions, and create working partnerships.

This is not something that most businesses can afford to do long term, but when you are starting, establishing business relationships is one of the most important parts of what you need to do.

You need to establish a name for your business in your industry. Other businesses need to know who you are and what you are offering. That is why you need to take the time to talk to prospects, and not just about business, it needs to be about establishing a connection.

  • Learn more about their company
  • Better understand your customer’s needs
  • Find out why they chose your solution
  • Learn more about what is good and bad about your product or service
  • Help customers better understand certain features and functions
  • Have a conversation that can lead to discoveries or new ideas, something that happens organically

From having these conversations, you can learn a lot about your industry, and even about other potential leads.

When to automate or delegate

You will know when your business is ready to automate certain aspects of daily duties, such as lead generation, follow-ups, and general query replies. However, these automated responses can only be effective if they are first written and tested by real people and real prospects.

  • Write the emails manually
  • Have chatbots answer only selected questions before sending a request for human interaction

Most importantly monitor the success of any automation learning how messages are being received by existing and potential customers. Find out what is working and what isn’t, what processes need to be refined, and what needs to be kept as a manual process.

When it comes to delegating, it should be that the standard operating procedure is so fine-tuned that the junior staff is able to take on the role with ease, elevating only complex queries to more senior staff.

Your time is valuable, and you need to allow yourself to let go of some aspects of the business, such as repetitive work or data entry so that you can focus on development, business growth opportunities, and maintenance of relationships.

In Conclusion

While automation does make some aspects of business far easier to manage, you need to be at that scale before you make the choice to automate or delegate. In the early growth of your business, you need to take the time to make it personal, to feel out the market, and to create a space that cannot be filled by automation or delegation by establishing relationships.

When your business is ready to be scaled, you will know, because it will become obvious that certain tasks are consuming your time that could easily be handled by junior staff, or your volume will indicate that there is a need for your business to start working smarter.

However, you get the point that you need to consider the scalability of your business, you first need to do the things that cannot be scaled.

  • Actively find and manually oversee key accounts
  • Show prospects they’re more than just a lead
  • Master what you’re doing, then automate the process