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Scaling a Small Business to Meet a Growing Demand: 9 Points to Cover

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Scaling a Small Business to Meet a Growing Demand: 9 Points to Cover

Starting a business is easier than ever, but making a business successful has never been easy. In addition to that, today’s focus on ecommerce can lead to a sharp increase in demand if your product gains enough attention or goes viral.

So, how do you keep up with that kind of demand? The key is to scale carefully in a calculated way to ensure your business is prepared. Here are some helpful tips to guide you in the right direction and away from some common pitfalls.

1. Make Sure You’re Ready for Growth

All it takes is one viral TikTok video or Instagram post to send a small business with an online presence from obscurity to ubiquity. The internet is fickle, but it doesn’t take much to step into online stardom — and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with new orders coming in from all around the world.

Business owners need to start by figuring out if they’re ready for growth. Is there a plan in place to scale things up, or will a slew of new orders leave the company scrambling? Don’t start pursuing growth unless the infrastructure to support that growth is already in place.

2. Identify and Address Barriers to Growth

With a plan in place, the next step is to identify any barriers that might prevent that growth. Are supply chains an issue that could create problems? This has been a growing problem throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and it may be a while before things start to get back to normal.

Are there legal barriers that might interfere with international markets? Are there barriers within the business itself, in the form of people or policies that might cause growth to stagnate? Take a close look at the ins and outs of the business before you start trying to edge into new markets.

3. Focus on Quality and Consistency

Good, Fast, Cheap. Pick two. Companies that create a good product fast can’t do so cheaply. Ones that create a cheap product fast can’t focus on quality. Speed is valuable in a world that values instant gratification so highly, but don’t compromise quality and consistency for speed when trying to keep up with demand. Focus on quality and consistency first, especially when trying to meet a new or growing demand.

Compromising quality in favor of speed is just going to chase away all the new customers when they realize they’re not getting the best you have to offer.

4. Take Advantage of Outside Expertise

Businesses may offer unique takes, new products, or previously unknown services. But when it comes to dealing with new growth, there’s always someone who has been there before. Don’t assume you know everything. This is where networking can become a valuable tool for companies facing challenges sorting through a sudden increase in demand.

Make friends in the industry and tap into their knowledge and experience. This is often the best source of information and can help small businesses navigate the uncharted waters of growth.

5. Make Sure Customers Know Who You Are

There is so much information on the internet at any given time that it’s nearly impossible to sort through all of it — and it is easy to get overwhelmed, especially for consumers working to research a new company before they start spending money. It’s important to set up a comprehensive “About Us” page to make it easy for new customers to understand what the company offers and what they’re all about. You know a good template when you see it.

It sounds simple, but it can have a massive impact on growth. The style and design of the About Us page can decide whether that impact is positive or negative.

6. Build a Great Team

A company is only as good as the people who hold it together. It’s up to the business owner to build a great team that works together well: one they can trust to get the job done.

Start by choosing experts in the field — business, manufacturing, marketing, etc. — and work with them to find the perfect balance. It sounds simple, but it’s anything but. Finding a team of people who both succeed in their respective fields and work well together is like finding the Holy Grail.

7. Look Forward, Not Back

Where a business has been before can teach a lot of valuable lessons. Learning from failures and reworking plans that didn’t work in the first place are useful tools to help ensure business success in the future. But lingering on the past will make sure a business stays there.

Don’t let the past hold you back. Instead, learn from it and look to the future. Focus on where the company is going rather than where it’s been.

8. Learn From the Competition

Nearly every industry is fiercely competitive, but that doesn’t mean new ventures can’t learn from those who came before, even if those other companies stand in direct competition.

Unless a business owner is blazing the way in an entirely new field, there is always someone who left footprints in the sand. Follow them. Figure out what they did to succeed and what didn’t work for them, and then use that information to plan your next move.

9. Don’t Stray Too Far From Your Values

The temptation is great when moving into larger markets or growing exponentially, to betray some of what made a small business appealing in the first place. Maybe that means treating employees poorly or straying too far from the values that were established when the company first opened its doors.

Don’t give in to that temptation. The values established as a company defines what it is, and maintaining that appearance is more important than any profit margin or sale.

Celebrate The Wins and Learn From the Failures

For a small business, going global or experiencing substantial growth can be an overwhelming proposition. But that intimidation shouldn’t scare away anyone savvy enough to start a business in the first place. Start by ensuring the company is ready for growth by going over all the little details and determining what might interfere. From there, simply take things one day at a time and be ready to adapt to any new challenges that arise.

The internet is a valuable tool for small businesses, but one viral video can shoot a company to previously unforeseen heights that they might not be ready for. Be careful and ready for anything. Learn from any failures and celebrate successes as they manifest.


How Will Telematics Transform the Modern Supply Chain

Today’s consumers expect goods to be delivered faster and on shorter notice than ever before. For the logistics industry, meeting these demands for greater flexibility and agility has required change, where it’s the adoption of lean logistics principles or the use of Industry 4.0 technology.

Novel telematics technology, powered by recent developments like Internet of Things (IoT) devices and artificial intelligence, are already helping the supply chain satisfy the needs of a growing and accelerating global economy.

This technology could revolutionize logistics in the near future, and here’s how.

Key Benefits and the Impact of Vehicle Telematics

One of the most significant obstacles logistics companies have faced has been the difficulty of tracking vehicle location, health and performance. New telematics technology can help businesses overcome this obstacle by vastly expanding the amount of accessible information on trucks and driver behaviors.. New telematics technology can help businesses overcome this obstacle by vastly expanding the amount of accessible information on trucks and driver behaviors.

GPS trackers can continuously track a vehicle’s location. Other telematics devices can communicate directly with internal car modules, like an engine or battery control unit. This provides a company with direct access to information on the engine health and performance of fleets.

With the speeds offered by 5G, these devices can transmit information in near real-time to the cloud, providing telematics data to the fleet owner and their business partners. The technology has a wide range of applications for logistics companies. Better knowledge of a driver’s current location and behavior can provide more accurate estimates of when a shipment will arrive.

GPS and engine data can also help businesses conform to new regulations like anti-idling laws. If a vehicle remains parked in the same place for long enough while the engine is active, the system can automatically alert the driver and log an idling event. Having a direct line to car data can also be extraordinarily helpful for technicians wanting to maximize the lifespan of fleet vehicles.

On the road, telematics systems can provide a great deal of information to drivers. Some can continuously monitor and report diagnostic trouble codes. Vehicle operators and the technician they work with can instantly know if an illuminated check engine light is caused by something like a loose gas cap or a much more serious problem.

Typically, this information is only accessible via an OBDII reader or code scanner, which may provide codes without explaining what they mean. The telematics solution makes this data more accessible and useful to non-technicians.

Early notification on potential vehicle issues can help fleet managers avoid or mitigate some of the most common maintenance issues in semitrucks and similar vehicles.

Transparency, Traceability and Data-Sharing

Telematics makes it possible to create a log of all information relevant to an order while it was in transit — where it was, what conditions it was exposed to and even the speed it was traveling while in the care of a particular driver.

As a business grows, this information can help managers coordinate an increasingly complex network of drivers, fleet headquarters and vehicles. It can also help companies improve the transparency and traceability of their logistics network.

Data gathered on drivers and shipment location can be provided to business partners, allowing them a real-time view of where critical items are while in transit. This information can also be stored for later use — like providing someone with a fuller picture of how a shipment moved from point A to point B after the fact.

In other cases, IoT can also help provide businesses with more information about how goods are shipped. IoT temperature sensors can supplement an existing telematics solution to provide real-time updates on the temp inside a vehicle.

This information can enable drivers to take quick action if storage temperatures move out of a safe range during transportation. Stored data from a particular shipment can also resolve conflicts if a product spoils while in transit. Temperature information can determine exactly when an item spoiled and more accurately pinpoint who may have been at fault. This technology can reduce the scale of recalls and prevent them from happening in the first place.

Similar devices measuring in-vehicle conditions like humidity and vibration can provide additional information to drivers and managers. This data can help them optimize storage and transportation conditions — reducing the risk that packages are damaged while in transit or sent at suboptimal conditions.

Optimizing Processes With Telematics Data

The data gathered by telematics devices can have value long after the moment in which it was generated. The rise of artificial intelligence and big data analytics means the massive amount of information produced by telematics systems can be analyzed to uncover insights that may have been impossible to find with conventional analytic approaches. This includes moment-to-moment information on driver behavior, location and engine performance.

For example, real-time information on driver routes and vehicle health can be used to create route optimization algorithms that use traffic data and driver behavior information to plan the fastest way to a destination. It could also be used to determine roadways that minimize gas consumption.

Data from deliveries can also be aggregated and used to create new planning algorithms in the long run. They can help companies develop more accurate estimates of how long a particular delivery will take based on available information like drivers available, driving behavior, traffic and weather conditions.

These improved estimates can ensure on-time deliveries and reduce the risk that a company commits to orders they cannot fill in a timely fashion.

Telematics Paves the Way for a More Efficient Supply Chain

Novel telematics technology, assisted by innovations in IoT and AI, greatly increases the amount of data that logistics companies have access to. A business can plug directly into their fleet vehicles with the right solution, allowing them access to truck health and sensor data.

Other telematics devices, like GPS trackers and temperature sensors, can provide additional information on the location of a shipment or the environmental conditions it may be in.

This information will allow businesses across the sector uncover new insights and develop algorithms that can optimize route planning and fleet management.

electric truck

Challenges Facing the Adoption of Electric Truck Fleets

Innovations in electric truck technology present a major opportunity for business fleets. However, these electric trucks have yet to make much headway in the commercial vehicle market.

Despite several notable milestones and significant corporate investment, consumers and businesses have been slow to adopt these new EVs. A handful of challenges will likely need to be addressed before electric trucks become widely adopted.

Maintenance and High Prices May Be Discouraging EV Adoption

One of the most significant barriers to EV adoption remains cost. The heavy-duty lithium-ion batteries needed to power a truck’s drivetrain can still be extremely expensive. This drives up the cost of new electric trucks compared to similar, gas-powered vehicles.

Reliability and maintenance may also pose a barrier to adoption for some fleet owners. While electric vehicles can sometimes be more reliable than gas cars due to their electric powertrain, they can also be just as or more expensive than conventional vehicles to maintain.

Lithium-ion batteries tend to have a long lifespan, but they don’t last forever. Replacing one can be a major expense. Battery replacement costs for early EVs, like the Nissan Leaf, can be up to $5,000, which is near the resale value of the car. This is due to the price of a new battery and the labor needed to replace the old one.

While most EV maintenance is similar to conventional vehicles, simple failures can cause more serious problems due to the complexity and uniqueness of electric powertrains. Entire components found in a standard, internal combustion engine-powered truck are missing or replaced by other parts, like DC-DC converters, reducers and battery control modules.

If a business wants to keep fleet maintenance in-house, servicing electric trucks will require either hiring new technicians who are knowledgeable about electric trucks or training existing employees in EV upkeep.

The experimental nature of many modern EVs and the use of proprietary firmware may also mean adopting electric trucks would require fleet owners to develop a much closer relationship with dealers and mechanics.

As new EVs age, they may face problems that are hard for businesses to anticipate right now. The reliability of these new electric vehicles may be proven over the next few years — but, for the moment, potential maintenance woes may convince fleet owners to wait on upgrading.

Limited Charging Stations and Range Anxiety May Discourage Adoption

Like most consumer EVs, commercial electric trucks also face the charging problem. Drivers can’t rely on the existing infrastructure of gas stations and truck stops to keep them fueled. There’s a constantly expanding network of EV charging stations being built around the country. Still, outside of a few major cities, available stations may not be common enough to provide a reliable source of power.

Range anxiety — or the fear that EVs don’t store enough power to get a driver from home base to destination to a charging station — is likely a major barrier to the widespread adoption of EVs. Even in areas where charging stations are widely available, the capacity they offer may not be enough to charge EVs in a timely fashion.

For example, the 2021 Tesla Model Y has a range of up to 326 miles and takes eight to 12 hours to get a full charge from a 220-volt power station. Higher-voltage power stations are available commercially, and it’s possible to fully charge a Model Y in just an hour and a half with a Level 3 or 440-volt charger.

However, most existing EV charging stations offer just 220 volts. This means fleet owners will likely have to invest in home charging stations and carefully schedule drivers so they can always make it back to fleet headquarters for a recharge. Businesses that adopt electric trucks would be significantly limited by the density and location of existing charging stations.

While several major infrastructure projects and new subsidies will help increase the number of high-power charging stations, it will be a while before chargers are as common as gas stations.

Investment in the EV Market May Make Electric Trucks More Appealing

Major automakers seem to have committed to the growing EV market. It’s a good sign that, while adoption may be slow, some of the challenges discouraging fleet owners from buying EVs may be solved soon.

Ford has made an $11 billion investment in the EV market and is set to begin delivering the electric counterparts to its flagship truck, the Ford F-150, in early 2022. Other Ford EVs include the brand’s all-electric Mustang Mach-E SUV and the 2021 electric Ford Escape. Notably, the price point for Ford’s new electric F-150 is close to the price of the ICE version of the truck. After tax credits, the base electric model may even be cheaper than the gas-powered F-150.

Ford has also argued that the cost of ownership for the electric truck will be cheaper due to lower maintenance expenses and the price of electricity versus fuel.

General Motors, owner of the Ford brand, has long been an EV pioneer. The company launched one of the first few plug-in electric hybrids on the market, the Chevrolet Volt, in 2011. Affordable, modern EVs like these may convince fleet managers interested in electric trucks but have been cautious about investing in an EV upgrade.

At the very least, the rise of new commercial and consumer electric trucks is a good sign that there will be a robust market for used EVs emerging within the next few years. If these vehicles prove to be reliable, preowned models could provide a stepping stone for fleet owners interested in an electric upgrade but cautious about committing to a fleet of all-new EVs.

What the Future of Vehicle Fleets May Look Like

As investment in the EV market increases, commercial adoption of electric trucks and similar vehicles will also grow.

Current barriers to adoption — the high price of EVs, limited charging infrastructure and concerns around maintenance — are serious but aren’t likely to last forever. Prices are falling, the charging infrastructure is improving and more EVs means more mechanics familiar with repairing these vehicles.

In the near future, fleet owners may begin moving away from conventional vehicles to electric ones, but only once these challenges become easier to manage.