Scale your startup in a phased manner
Have you ever wondered why some of the startups scale at a tremendous pace while others do not?
Many factors contribute to helping you successfully scale your startup of which important ones have been presented later in this article. But first, let’s understand what scaling means in the context of a startup.
Meaning of Scale
Processes that are able to scale, can be done without extra effort. An example of a scalable process is sending an email to people. Your effort of sending it to 10 or 10,000 is essentially the same.
A scalable startup or business can adjust to a larger workload without compromising on performance or losing revenue.
This can happen only when you have identified and applied your working business model. But simply executing and repeating the business model is not enough to achieve scalability.
The thing that is usually missed by many startups that end up on sustainability and miss the growth is that they do not have plans and strategies to refine their business model.
Scaling becomes easy when you break it down into meaningful points and then start to work on them taking one after the other.
How to know when to scale?
According to a survey by Startup Genome on more than 3200 startups, 74% of startup failures can be explained by premature scaling. Hence, it’s very important to be absolutely clear on when to think of scale.
When your company’s sales and other data suggest that you are about to attain profitability in the next 6-18 months, it indicates that you have entered the growth phase.
If you are still far away, it’s time to focus on getting your business idea validated and tested thoroughly. You can read a detailed step-by-step evidence-based guide (part 1 & 2) to test and validate your business idea here & here.
Broadly speaking, there are three phases in your startup journey:
Phase I – What you are chasing at present
Phase II – What you will be chasing in the near future
Phase III – What you will be doing to become a billion-dollar company
Scaling means refining every aspect of your business (business model, value proposition, operations, etc.) with an intention to move from Phase I to phase III.
The following approach will provide a guideline to help scale your startup:
Point 1: Be Ready with the Prerequisites
Neil Patel, Co-Founder of Crazy Egg, suggests you prepare yourself for the following points before you plan to scale your startup:
- Make sure that your product reaches the “market fit”.
- You should be aware of your largest core users and their market size
- Identify the marketing channels that are the most rewarding (those that get you the highest ROI) and offer the biggest scaling potential. It can be done by testing with a smaller budget first.
- Get all the resources that you need to scale. Make sure that you have sustainable access to these resources. While scaling, you cannot afford to run out of them. You may need external funding to achieve this.
Point 2: Get you Data & Technology Plan ready
Irrespective of whether your startup is a technology company or not, data and technology is the resource that you cannot miss while planning to scale your startup.
The data that you receive from your customers and visitors on your website, can be exploited to grow.
The data and technology help you to make quick decisions on your new initiatives, new features in the existing products or new products that customers want, and finding new opportunities and markets.
Point 3: Add Value by Refining Value Chain
Success in the revenue generation process of any startup or business boils down to one main factor and that is the value that the company or startup provides to its customers.
Refine and add value at every step starting right from refining the processes and procedure involved in building a product up to the point of selling the product to customers through different channels and refining the ways for providing better support to customers
Point 4: Streamline the process
Sometimes scaling without planning can end up in chaos. If there is no defined process of receiving and interpreting the information that you get from different sources within your startup or company, you may end up getting caught in a web and see no clear way to move forward.
For example, your sales team is getting feedback from your customers to see a change ‘X’ in your product while the engineering department is working on a plan that delivers ‘Y’ or your product is ready to be shipped but you do not have a robust distribution plan in place yet.
Therefore it’s important to streamline the process and have a clear plan in place on how the information will flow to easily and effectively facilitate the accomplishment of each activity starting from production to delivering value to customers.
This streamlined plan should be documented and accessible to everyone so that the respective people can make necessary changes and refine their processes.
In this entire process, data and technology again have a big role to play. The process starts by acquiring data from customer’s feedback and the refined solution is delivered back to customers by utilizing the technology.
Point 5: Become efficient & automate
Once you have your data plan in place including the sources of acquiring the data and the ways to use it, all you have to do is make it more efficient.
It can be done by finding and implementing ways to obtain more data & analyze it faster. You should be able to translate this data to:
- acquire more customers,
- retain them longer,
- serve them better by delivering more value efficiently &
- deliver value with reduced cost
Also, wherever possible, you should acquire, buy, build, and use the technology to make your various processes fast and efficient. It should be done right from production & distribution to sales and customer support.
The purpose of all this is to help you increase your revenue margin while you are in the process of scaling up.
Point 6: Boost Marketing
After you have made all efforts to make your processes streamlined and efficient through the use of data and technology, you need to make your product known and popular in your target segment. Therefore, you need to focus on marketing. But not all kinds of marketing techniques are scalable.
According to Forbes, ‘word of mouth’ does not scale (unless you have something extraordinary to offer). Also, direct marketing is not scalable. The most scalable method, on the other hand, is content marketing. It is one of the most effective forms of marketing in terms of virality which makes it the method of choice for most startups when it comes to growth-hacking.
To Wrap Up
The above points provide you a broad guideline on what you need to consider while you are planning to scale your startup. Taking care of the above points can greatly help you in your journey to scale.
Do you feel there is something more to be included? Kindly write to us. We will be more than happy to consider your valuable suggestions.