The difference between
Growing and Scaling a Business

Growing and Scaling a business are words that are often used interchangeably, but actually have two different meanings. They are both essential parts of being a business owner, but worth focusing on at different stages.

 

Whether you’re a service or product based business, the process of going from growing to scaling a business will be pretty similar. So let’s dive in…

Growing

 

When starting a business, it’s natural to focus on areas such as our offer, marketing and increasing sales. We want to build our brand awareness and grow our customer* base, and we want to start making money! The priority here tends to be on increasing revenue, but isn’t quite so focused on profit.

This can be a time consuming, stressful and expensive process.

You’re spending so much time doing everything yourself, learning about the different buyer types and figuring out how to use your email marketing platform.

During this phase you may also get to the stage of needing to hire support so you can focus more on the tasks you’re good at and enjoy doing. Initially this could look like someone to help you with routine administrative tasks, or with Social Media. But you quickly realise the time it takes to onboard new team members, as well as managing their work load.

You also want to make sure your customers are happy, collect feedback and improve your offers. There’s a lot going on!


It can feel messy, unstable, and scrappy, even when business is growing.


While this phase is necessary, it tends to have more of a short-term focus, and is not sustainable. At some point, you will reach capacity, stagnate and run the risk of burning out in the process.

 

Before we get to that stage, we want to switch to focusing on…

 
Scaling
 

Having a scalable business means that your business is set up in a way that can sustain a consistent increase in customers. It means that as your customer base grows, you won’t go through phases of reaching capacity and not being able to handle that increase. Your business is set up in a way that can continue to grow without needing a relative increase in resources, and even increase its profits in the process.


This relies on having strong foundations, focusing on efficiency and effectiveness, and repeatable internal processes. You need to be able to serve more customers, without a drop in the service you are providing.


Having a scalable business means you are focusing more on the long-term goals. You are able to organise the big ideas and visions into your head and break it down into a plan of action, with milestones and tangible results. You are also able to understand and plan for any potential opportunities and risks in your market.


Another factor is having team members who believe in what you are trying to build. They will be able to focus on their area of expertise and implement the company’s plans. This will free up your time to focus on being the visionary leader of the business.


We then want to look at utilising tech and automating repeatable processes. Once you have created a process and know it works, you can look to introduce tech solutions that will make the process more efficient and cost-effective. This will also free up the team member’s time so they can focus on other revenue-generating activities.


These may sounds very restrictive and stuffy, but the reality is having this structure in your business will enable you to enjoy the freedom you set up your business to achieve. You’ll be able to rid yourself of the ‘busy-work’, get your creativity back and experience unlimited growth.


If you’re ready to stop procrastinating on growing and scaling your business, and need support in doing so, you can check out my services using the link below.

*Note: Throughout this blog post, I use the word ‘Customer’, but is also relevant to Clients. A Customer is typically someone who buys a product or service, whereas a Client typically buys advice and solutions.

Growing and Scaling a business are words that are often used interchangeably, but actually have two different meanings.

Growing and Scaling are both essential parts of being a business owner, but worth focusing on at different stages.

Let’s use the giant that is Nike as an example. In my lifetime, I’ve always associated Nike with their ‘Just Do It’ campaigns and Niketown stores. They’re one of the largest brands in the world, but they also had to start somewhere.

I recently read Shoe Dog (100% worth a read), which gives an incredible insight into the reality of starting, growing and scaling a business. 

But the journey of how Nike came to be the giant it is now isn’t quite as linear and straightforward as you may expect.

Whether you’re a service or product based business, the process of going from growing to scaling a business will be pretty similar. So let’s dive in…

If we go back to using the example of Nike, this phase involved testing and validating new products. They did what they had to do in order to get their product in front of new people, often travelling around the country taking their stock with them to track meets. This worked because Phil Knight was passionate and loved talking to people about running and trainers. 


They also brought people on board to help, and the company was growing fast. But he was chasing his tail, in a cycle of selling his stock, then reinvesting in his business. He literally didn’t have enough time in the day to do what he wanted to do with his business.

For Nike, they had figured out what worked for them, especially when it came to marketing. They realised the power of brand advocacy and using athletes to advertise their shoes (modern day influencers, I suppose).

They looked to reduce their overheads, finding more cost effective ways to produce their products.

These 3 areas – Organising, Automating and Delegating – are where I help my clients. If you’re ready for

  • Your focus needs to be more refined
  • You can continue to increase your client base without getting in a mess behind the scenes / no holdups
  • They found what works for them, then were able to switch to being more efficient and effective

The idea is to be free of the feast or famine, unpredictable mode. You want to know that you have the systems in place to handle the increase without sacrificing the efficiency, profitability or service.

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