Episode 24: What It Means To Truly Scale Your Business
The word scale is used a lot on the online space, but many people don’t understand what it means. What does scaling mean to you? Everyone thinks they want to scale, but what they often mean is that they want to make more money. To make more money, you need to gain traction. In this episode, I’m talking about how to identify if you’re ready to scale, what to do in order to become ready, and how to truly scale your business. Listen here, or scroll to read!
So What Is Scaling?
Making more money is a byproduct of scaling. It is a result of things you already had in place that allowed you to scale.
True scaling means you can automate the attraction and delivery process of your business. Here are some signs you are not ready to scale:
- If you aren’t in a position to automate your traction and delivery, or your production process, you aren’t ready to scale.
- If you aren’t ready to take a step back from the constant day to day activities, you’re not ready to scale. After all, when you’re bringing in employees, you’re running a well-oiled machine. You need to be able to delegate activities to your business on a full time scale.
- If you aren't making enough money to support scaling, then attempting to scale won't fix the problem.
Stages Of Brand Growth Before You Can Scale
One of my clients came to me saying, “I want to build something with a feel-good factor.” If this is your idea, your next best step is proof of concept. You need to move from $0 - $100k. Now you have proof of concept and you have traction.
Your next step after your first $100k is to gain full traction.
When you’re in the growth stage, you can start the scaling process once you’re reaching the $250-$300k mark. You can start investing in programs that teach you how to scale. It’s important to learn how to scale correctly.
Once you hit around $500k, you’re ready to talk about scaling.
Categorize yourself and understand if you’re working on a proof of concept, if you’re moving into full traction, or if you’re ready to scale.
What You Need In Order To Truly Scale Your Business
1. You Need A Dialed-In Product Assortment
Many people love making products! But you have to understand that just because you love making the product doesn’t mean you have to sell it. The more products you have, the more cannabilistic your business will become.
Put yourself in the place of a coffee shop. If you were known to sell just lattes, but then you add different flavors and styles of coffees, such as macchiatos, hot chocolate, and more. The people who used to buy lattes will shift their dollars to the other products. If you only had lattes originally, you diluted the sales of that latte because you added more products.
This is also true for service industries. You may add more and more offers, and they take away from sales of your core offer.
As a creative entrepreneur, you may tend to give your customers more options. Unfortunately, this just leads to confusion or down-selling.
You need to know your product assortment inside and out, how often you sell those products, and understand how much money you make from them on a monthly basis. If you don’t know these things, you need to streamline your product assortment.
2. You need to have a community.
Scaling isn’t the time to test messaging or try to find your ideal audience. You already need to have a list of people who buy and who are raving fans. This is how you predict sales. If you're scaling, you need to have a group of people who are ready to buy. This way you're amplifying and duplicating proven results.
For example, you should be able to know who in your community will buy if you put out a limited edition product. While you might be doing this to test out a new product, you should not be testing out your audience or positioning.
When you know your community, you know exactly what products will scale and how to do it.
4. You need a position in the market.
You have to own a position in the minds of your ideal customer. You aren’t testing messaging, solutions, or anything else. You already know who your audience is and what they’re purchasing.
For example, if you have a skincare brand, you already know that your audience buys primarily to correct hyperpigmentation or acne. However, if you have a wide assortment of solutions and customers, you’re still finding your position in your effort.
Let's say 90% of your audience is people who buy because they have red spots on their skin. What you then need to do from the marketing standpoint is ask yourself, “How do I get 20k people who have the same red spots?” Then you sell to them. This is scaling.
Adding new products or market segments is not scaling UNLESS you’ve already scaled your hero product. If you’re adding in a new product after accomplishing this, it is still scaling. It's called scaling by innovating, but you can only do that once you’ve owned your position in the market.
You also need to think about innovation done well. Big brands innovate by adding new products, new channels, new sizes, different ways of using the product, etc. These are ways to innovate as you scale.
5. You need a solid customer acquisition model.
You know what works for you, you know when it’s working, and you know what to do to make it work every time. Essentially, you need to nail your customer acquisition process.
You need to know your weekly marketing activities and the sales you get from them. If you’re dabbling across platforms, you’re not in the scaling stage. Instead, you’re figuring out what is working and refining those processes.
You need to understand that marketing is not going to solve your scalability issues. It will either make them worse or show you what is broken. Marketing is the one thing everyone leans into when they want to scale. However, if you’re leveraging paid activity in your business, you’re going to spend more. Your ad spend will go up, but if you aren’t measuring it against return on money invested, you’re wasting your time. In fact, if you aren’t getting money back from marketing, then you’re depleting your profits.
In order to scale, your infrastructure needs to be dialed in already. Then ad spend will support your efforts.
6. You need to understand your operational processes.
Answer the questions: What does my order process look like? What does my inventory process look like? What is my marketing strategy, and can I delegate it? What is my production process, and what is the timeline for it? What is my fulfillment process? What does fulfillment look like at higher volumes? What is your customer service process?
Document all of these processes. And I mean to write them down! It is essential to understand your operation processes if you begin to support scaling. After all, these processes are what will enable you to scale successfully.
7. What is your “secret sauce?”
Think about other brands you admire, and what their secret sauce is. Then think about yours! After you’ve thought about this, ask yourself: Are your products positioned correctly? Is the assortment correct?
Then think about pricing. Does it address manufacturing and supply chain issues and costs? You need to be confident that you could sell your product if a wholesaler approached you.
If you’re in a cash crunch, there is something wrong with your pricing.
Then ask yourself what your distribution strategy is, and is it right for you? You don’t need to do everything! I always say that brands are unique! Every brand should have a unique strategy. Maybe one brand does well in wholesale, but other want to do just retail. Some prefer e-commerce.
Maybe you want to dial in wholesale, home channels and local boutiques, or e-commerce. It’s good to focus on just one channel.
It’s important to understand that when you aren’t ready to scale you must focus on just a few things and do them very well.
8. Do you have a clear and magnetic brand identity?
The reason why big brands continue to be big is that they think BRAND vs. product! On the other hand, small entrepreneurs think product first. They tie their cash into inventory before they know how to sell, who to sell to, and who they are.
Branding is why people buy you! No amount of marketing can help you. You’ll be driving people to an unclear message. After all, people buy into a community. You need to communicate why your brand and product truly exist. This will create a magnetic brand identity that draws your customers to your product.
9. Do you have a sales strategy that allows you to capture new sales while retaining current customers?
Many people get trapped in the hamster wheel of acquiring new people, but they forget to retain the people they already have. Data shows that 80% of a brand’s customers are light buyers. This means that they will most often buy trial size. No data proves that customers are brand loyal. Your job as a CEO is to ensure you can nurture and retain clients in your ecosystem. How can you engage them?
Whether you do organic or paid advertising, you’re spending time and money to get that customer. You should get an ROI from that customer more than once.
If we haven’t worked together, I can put money down that you aren’t getting an ROI from your customer the first time they buy. They need to be able to buy 2-3 times. This is when you get into the cash multiplier concept from your customer.
What To Do If Your Brand Isn't Ready To Scale
If you aren’t confident in doing these nine things, get help! If you look anything like me or if you grew up in a culture like I did in Kenya, you are used to doing everything yourself. However, to reduce the mistakes you’ll make trying to figure out scaling ,you need to get help! Be smart about the people you are bringing into your team. At this stage, many people go to agencies. If your agency isn’t finding out your stage of business and your current audience, or if they are using models from other people, run away!
It breaks my heart when emerging entrepreneurs spend over $10k on paid ads when they have nothing to market. Their pricing has to be right! And if the agency isn’t telling you information about ad spend or customer acquisition, use this training and ask them the important questions. Save yourself the mistake of going broke over paid ads. People like me almost always start on negative. Instead of overextending yourself and paying the costly price of lessons learned, ask questions! You can even book a call with me to discuss where you’re at in business.
You have to know what products you’re creating, how to communicate the value of your product, and where to sell. You need help to know how to package, market, and actually sell your products! If you’re making less than $100k, invest in education for those areas of product entrepreneurship.
If you aren’t good with numbers and spreadsheets, hire someone who will teach you how to look at your numbers.
If you are ready to scale, hire someone who can teach you the scaling process! Bonus Tip: If you’re service based, don’t get into the programs that are meant for product-based entrepreneurs. If you’re product-based, don’t get into programs meant for services! The strategies are not the same. I work one to one with brands who are ready to scale, and my clients have seen big results. Find out if we're a good fit by filling out a quick suitability assessment.
I want you to start running your business like a true business! You must embrace and embody a CEO mindset. (Learn more about that here.)
This is necessary to build a sustainable business! It’s not about having 10k followers on Instagram; it’s about maintaining $10k in profit. This is the work that needs to happen.
If you want to love your work, be here long term, leave your full-time job, create a legacy for your family, and keep your sanity, you need to implement these principles!