Interviews

How to avoid the scale-up pitfalls successfully

5 min read

27 April 2017

When I started SmartPA in 2011, I wanted to see results straight away. It took me a while to realise that if I wanted to grow the business successfully, I needed substantial time to identify and tackle those pesky scale-up pitfalls.

Entrepreneurs are constantly developing their product or service to remain competitive and achieve success. Even with a great offering, however, some bosses fail because they haven’t carefully researched scale-up pitfalls.

How you manage growth is crucial as this will determine whether your business thrives or ultimately fails. I started SmartPA with three in-house virtual PAs, and now we have 150 around the globe. So here are some tips we learned along the way to help you avoid the scale-up pitfalls successfully.

1) Plan, plan, plan

A common mistake companies make is to scale too soon. If you’re looking to tackle scale-up pitfalls, then t he preparation stage becomes extremely important. You need to get the basics right and allow enough time to execute efficiently.

Give yourself at least three months to plan and analyse your company and the market, as well as where you want to be. Make sure your business is ready for change as you don’t want to waste time and invest in resources when your processes and procedures are not equipped to handle growth.

2) Your staff are important

Keep in mind that your staff play a huge part in the growth of your business, so make them feel important. Organise a meeting to present the plans for your business and then delegate a task to each member of your team so they feel included in the expansion. Analysing staff will help you anticipate potential staffing difficulties as well as performance gaps that need to be closed.

It’s easy to start hiring more employees and move to a bigger office space, but the purpose of scaling isn’t just to expand in size; it’s about finding ways to do things efficiently. To do this successfully, ensure you have an infrastructure in place so that your business can grow without structural limitations.

Your management needs to adapt to new opportunities and challenges that pop up. So have an open discussion with them to provide more structure to their roles. You might find you need to implement new training initiatives.

3) Streamline your processes

It’s crucial to manage your business processes to match growth goals. Processes that cater for a handful of employees can’t be used for 100 employees. Operations must be reviewed and you might have to consider hiring someone as HR specialist if you haven’t already – placing someone in such a role will be instrumental to tackling scale-up pitfalls. This will maximise your efficiency at all levels of the organisation such as day to day tasks.

4) Prioritise well

As boss, every minute of your time is valuable so make sure you treat it as such. You shouldn’t stack yourself with too many tasks while trying to satisfy employees, investors, customers and stakeholders at the same time. Forward planning is key so that you can focus on the core aspect of your business scaling up. It’s thus important to delegate tasks to your team and hire extra help if need be.

Scaling up can come with a range of challenges for businesses depending on the sector and product, but managing and planning ahead for these issues will increase the odds of you overcoming them. It’s important to make your employees feel like they’re part of the process. Finally, make sure your priorities are in check to best focus on growing your business.

Sarra Bejaoui launched SmartPA with the goal to inspire and empower women in launching their own business and getting back into work. Over the past five years, SmartPA has become the fast growing franchise for women within the UK and has supported over 140 partners launch their own business (as PAs) through training and providing clients to help build their franchises.

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