Scale within a strategic context
Evaluate initiatives to scale your business against your strategic plan and objectives. First, formulate a clear, concise statement of the scaling you are contemplating, and then ask how it fits into the strategic vision and direction of the company. If it doesn’t fit, either postpone scaling or revise your strategy.
Understand what core and noncore activities are
Any scaling initiative should focus on just two or three core activities. But sometimes it’s not entirely obvious which activities are core. Is manufacturing core? Are design, development, and distribution core? Take the time to define these. Noncore activities could be leveraged through partnerships or contracts, letting you focus resources on your true core activities.
Ensure processes are efficient and products are stable
Your processes and QA systems must be stable to be scalable. Consider the resources it would take to train new people if you scaled up quickly. Could you double your staff and have them be productive right away? Is your product “rock solid” and your QA system thoroughly established? If the answer to either is no, scaling will eat up your budget in training and support costs.
Identify your inflection points
Inflection points are turning points in your business that, if successfully capitalized on and well executed, can significantly drive growth. Would a new product line increase sales by a significant amount? Would global distribution? Focusing your investment on these inflection points can dramatically transform your business.
Leverage your business
Leveraging is stretching the limits of your capacity first and then adding resources as your business grows. Consider how you can leverage existing resources to support the growth enabled by focusing on your inflection points. Can you add another shift? Or outsource manufacturing to focus on product design and distribution? This is much less risky than investing in infrastructure up front.
Determine your measures of success
You’ve identified your core activities and inflection points and are ready to leverage your business for growth. Next, determine what you’ll measure to know whether you’re successful or not. When something isn’t working well, move quickly to change it or redirect your efforts. Success while scaling is a moving target; your key factors will change as you evolve from a small to mid-size to large business.