Business is about growth. Consistent growth is coveted in business 'nearly' every aspect – productivity, lead generation, customer satisfaction, profit. Businesses that can streamline all the necessary processes into a seamless workflow grow fast and thrive well. Their journey from being a seed idea to great success is rapid.
But there comes the point where the business reaches a level of stability in its profits. That is when the question arises –"What now? Where does the business grow from here?"
Upscaling becomes the need of the hour. The business needs to expand its territories and move up the ladder from being a successful small or medium enterprise to becoming a large organization.
It is easy to start a business, difficult to make it successful, but it gets very tricky when one has to upscale it. It feels daunting.
However, keeping a few critical components in mind will ease the decision-making process. Let's take a look at them.
The Brand Promise
It is time to re-visit the vision statement for the business. This is where the process of upscaling starts. It is imperative that the upscaling is done in alignment with the brand promise – the commitment that the brand had made to its customers. The brand promise represents the value that the customers expect at every interaction with the company. The business's brand identity is based on this promise. Digressing from that promise or commitment is going to cost the business a lot. It is completely avoidable.
Understand the Culture
In the book The Culture Code, the author Daniel Coyle stresses the importance of the organization's workplace culture. He wrote that a mediocre team could screw up even the best of plans. This speaks a lot about the importance of great workplace culture.
The growth of a company heavily depends on its culture. The culture is the cohesive force that brings people together as a team and makes them deliver their best. It is built on trust.
Though during upscaling, retaining the growth culture becomes challenging, it is possible. By consistently reinforcing the business's mission and values, by ensuring greater transparency and openness across the board, the company can retain its talented workforce. Investing in their personal development will, in turn, add more value to the business.
A great workplace culture not only helps ensure greater customer experience and satisfaction, but it also makes it incredibly easier to hire new talents.
Understand the Customers' Needs
To upscale a business means expansion on multiple fronts and none of those fronts are unaffected by the level of customers' expectations, experience, and satisfaction. In effect, the customers run the business more than anything or anybody else. They are the ones who pay to keep the business running.
As such, the business must conduct thorough research in this regard. Collecting feedback and reviews from its existing customers will allow the business to gain the client's perspective. This will help the business improve its product offerings and the quality of customer service.
The business can also use this feedback to anticipate other needs of its customers and build more products or services to cater to their needs effectively. Such efforts will keep the customers happy and possibly, make them the biggest brand ambassadors for the business. After all, nothing serves better than the word of mouth marketing.
Managing time is crucial for successfully upscaling a business. The business must focus only on core, productive tasks that generate revenue like strategy. It has to outsource non-core processes like accounting, H.R., recruitment, I.T. support, and automate repetitive tasks such as payroll and social media marketing.
Outsourcing and Automation can be very effective in tackling day-to-day business activities. By handing over the responsibility of managing non-core processes and tasks to the right service providers, the business can save up on the cost and efforts of hiring a new workforce. Furthermore, the use of automation tools will save the business a lot of time and effort, which can then be reinvested in handling core processes that generate revenue.
Secure the Finances
Upscaling an S.M.E., at some point in time, is inevitable, and it is impossible to cope with the demands of upscaling without keeping a tab on the finances. All successful companies keep a close watch on their cash flow.
Keeping abreast of the cash inflows and outflows allows businesses to grow fast. Unnecessary expenses are discarded, and account payables are paid off on time. Simultaneously, the businesses have to stay precise with the account receivables.
As an upscaling S.M.E. today, there is a wide range of options available to finance the business upscaling – bank loans, venture capital, angel investment, credit financing, supplier financing, customer financing, public funds, credit cards.
It is faster and more feasible to finance a business using funds from a combination of the above-listed sources. Such thoughtful planning of finances will allow the business to stay flexible enough to be responsive and thrive in the ever-evolving market.
It may seem counterintuitive, but the riskiest phase for a business is not when it is a startup, rather when it is looking for an expansion. It is at this point that its requirement for resources begins to skyrocket. It looks at a make-it or break-it scenario. As a startup, it has relatively little to lose, but as a Small or Medium level Enterprise, it has a lot to lose.
Taking on bigger opportunities or clients requires that the business is prepared. Upscaling the business when it is not ready can be financially taxing and may as well damage the brand reputation. Hence, expanding the territories of business should be carried out with the necessary preparation.
No matter how well a business is doing, it must stay grounded when looking to expand itself. By considering the points mentioned above, a business can successfully upscale and expand itself to meet its strategic long-term goals and objectives.