In a nutshell

  • Ensure you have strong leadership to guide your team through periods of change
  • Have an in-depth understanding of how work is currently carried out and how a scale up will affect all aspects of your business
  • Use smart marketing to let your customer know what makes you stand out from the competition
Scale Up Coach Ian Kinnery

Scaling up can be a make or break moment for your business. Experienced business leader and scale up coach, Ian Kinnery, offers his advice on how to plan your scale up effectively and how to overcome potential barriers.

When scaling up your business, moving too quickly can create organisational problems that will cause you issues further down the line. The wrong staff could be hired, quality could be sacrificed and inefficient processes put in place.

Yet if you scale up too slowly, you could miss out on key opportunities and revenue that your competition will be taking advantage of – causing you to stand still in a market that will be adapting and changing to the needs of its customers.

Here on some of the most important things to consider when scaling up your business.  

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Strong leadership is one of the major factors in scaling up effectively.

Business leaders often believe that the success of their enterprise depends on the strength of their product or service. Whilst this is in part true, they often don’t recognise that the success of their business is actually heavily dependent on the person or team leading it.

Leaders must be capable of leading the organisation through a period of massive change and upheaval. They need to understand the competencies of their team and have emotional intelligence – instilling confidence in those around them and generating a collaborative mindset. Successful leaders will empower employees to try new things, to take risks and accept that sometimes these won’t always pay off.

In effect, leaders should be role models and create a positive working culture. 

However, becoming an inspirational and motivational leader doesn’t always come naturally. Often, we are stuck in our ways – we can be critical, dominant or doubtful. All of which are mindsets that won’t help businesses to scale up.

The good news is that the fundamental traits of leadership can be learned. Through working on communication skills, reflecting on team strengths and developing self-awareness leaders can change their style of working and in turn, the overall business mindset.

Re-learning leadership skills can be a difficult exercise to carry out on your own, so I’d recommend seeking outside help – asking friends, relatives and existing clients for advice and guidance. I’d also recommend working with a business coach or mentor that will help you reflect on and identify potential strengths or problems. 

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Ensuring scalable infrastructure

As a business grows, it unavoidably becomes more complex – so it is important to ensure that the company structure and working environment continues to be effective.

Therefore, management and creating clear processes are key.

I’d recommend spending time looking at how work is currently carried out – what processes are in place, what procedures staff are following and what barriers there could be if situations change. This process should involve staff from across the business, as often junior team members can highlight potential issues that leaders won’t be aware of.

Creating organisational charts that clearly identify the team structure and workflow can help with this, as they demonstrate what work needs to be completed, when it needs to be done by and how this contributes to the end result.

This clear structure will help employees see how their work fits into the bigger picture and will help further cement a collective mindset. Having a transparent working structure will also make it easier to spot inefficiencies and address issues quickly.

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One of the final barriers to potential growth is the failure to scale up an effective marketing function to both attract new customers and address the increased competitive pressures.

Being able to scale up successfully means knowing what attracts and retains the customers you've already acquired and leveraging that knowledge for growth that's sustainable. So, questions that I often ask businesses to consider include, what distinguishes you from your competition and can you clearly articulate this? If so, how can we tell this message to more people, more often?

This is why speaking to a coach or marketing specialist is so important. They’ll give you honest feedback and perspective on how your business is perceived in the market place and how this can be improved.


Last thoughts

Ultimately, successfully scaling up is about getting perspective and reflecting on the culture, people and processes within the business. Through speaking with colleagues, friends, clients, trusted advisors and by employing a specialist business coach, you will get a rounded view of what can be improved and built on to ensure that your business goes the distance.

Ian Kinnery
Contributed by Ian Kinnery
Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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