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.