“Sustainable growth” has become a popular phrase in the business world. Startups and small businesses in particular are focused on scaling their companies quickly yet dependably. After all, a company that grows too quickly without the proper structure and processes in place might risk burnout or the inability to match supply to demand. On the other hand, a company that grows too slowly may lose momentum and squander all its capital.
Digital technology has allowed for the exponential growth of small businesses, particularly in online spaces. The startup trend reflects just how easy it is to launch a venture with limited capital and grow it steadily in a short period of time.
However, scaling a small business sustainably is easier said than done. There are many pitfalls and challenges that entrepreneurs and small business owners face. Without proper guidance and strategy, they may find their company either stagnating or becoming unstable.
Here are five best practices for scaling a small business in a way that will encourage reliable growth for years to come.
- Focus on the problem you are solving. At the most basic level your product or service presents a creative solution to a common problem. Whenever you’re planning a new step for your company, you should keep this problem at the top of your mind. What is best for your customers and what will make their lives easier? Keep your audience in the center of your business decisions.
- Start small. Before you worry about developing every single bell and whistle of a new product or campaign, you need to start with the proof of concept—in other words, the proof that your vision is feasible and achievable. Does this actually work? Could this idea be turned into reality? Start with small “experiments” and when you see what works, follow that path.
- Know your benchmarks. What is success to you? Whether it is sales, site visitors, bounce rates, support calls, SEO ranking, brand engagement or otherwise, know the signs you are looking for to indicate your company is ready to move to the next phase or level. Make sure you are documenting and tracking this data so that transitioning to future phases becomes smoother and easier.
- Give it time. Any time you introduce a new way of doing things it will take your target audience some time to warm up to the idea. It will take catering and hand-holding to help users adjust to your platform and processes. If a new idea doesn’t land right away, give it time and make small tweaks and adjustments before you abandon it completely.
- Make sure your team is happy. High company morale is one of the biggest factors of success for a small company. If your team members feel connected and like they are making a difference, they will be more productive and more creative, allowing your company to innovate and grow.