#development, #startup
14 October 2020
Julianna Sykutera

How to Scale a Startup Business

There’s no easy way for startups to become corporate giants. It takes a lot of effort to transform your company into a competitive enterprise. That’s why if you’re a founder and you think about stepping into the next chapter – we have all the answers to the question: how to scale a startup business. 

Most guides for startups are focused on the initial stage of building a company. While getting the investors to notice you and raising funds is challenging, the are tons of traps on the way to scale up your business. The moment when you decide that you want your little playground to become something bigger – is the moment when you enter the boss-level in the game. 

So if you’ve already got familiar with the challenges of product development for startups or you’ve read how extremely successful apps are born, let’s move on to the subject of expanding your company. 

Growing vs Scaling 

Just to make sure we are on the same page. 

Growth is not the same thing as scaling. When your business grows, your company’s revenue and costs are both growing at a very similar pace. For example, when you hire new staff to serve more clients, you spend extra money to hire more people but you also get an increase in revenue from serving additional clients. 

When scaling up a startup, you want to achieve exponential growth in revenue without spending an equivalent of that amount. You aim at getting maximum profit while investing little to no resources. And yes, it’s possible!

How to scale your startup  

Prepare your company to become a bigger player in the market. 

Examine the core of your company 

Don’t scale up too quickly! First, you have to dive into your business and identify its core. Because without solid foundations you can forget about surviving the scaling-up phase. What makes your company up and running? What’s your product, your target audience, and what’s the sales path? 

Here’s a helpful checklist that will help you identify if you know your company in-depth. 

  1. Do you have an MVP? Did you validate your idea for a product?
  2. What’s your target customer?
  3. What marketing channels generate the best leads?
  4. Do you have enough savings and resources to survive through the scaling phase?

When you’re absolutely sure you know the identity of your company, you are ready to scale it. 

Does your business qualify for scaling?  

Sometimes it’s not worth striving for scaling your business. When you run a small, successful startup and you get to a point when you identify that the costs of scaling up will be pretty high – think twice. Better to stay a small but existing business than invest too many resources and one day vanish. 

Automation and outsourcing –  your new best friends 

Devote some time to figure out which processes in your company can be automated and automate as much as possible. Processes such as billing, onboarding, marketing, or lead verification can be optimized by the use of automation. Speaking of optimization of work – invest in cloud services! Think about the backend of your product and the possibility to transfer it to Firebase. See what you can gain by choosing Firebase as your backend solution

Outsourcing is also an option. When you can’t automate something, just delegate it to an external partner. Here’s an article about how to choose the right outsourcing company. Get used to outsourcing things like copywriting, design, or accounting. Sometimes it’s even better to outsource some of your projects to another tech partner. Read about successful startups that outsourced their MVPs

Work out your in-house processes 

If your company doesn’t have its processes well defined, you can’t enter the scale-up phase. Work on the action plan, all the procedures, and steps that make your business prospering. If you can leave your company on fire while being sure it won’t burn without you, it’s because all key people know the map to the company’s heart. 

When your absence doesn’t negatively affect your company’s development – it’s victory!

3 don’ts to remember 

Don’t hire too many people 

At this stage, you don’t need to grow in terms of people (as you automate and outsource a lot) 

Don’t go on a rollercoaster with all the funding you’ve raised

Allocate your money wisely. 

Don’t expand your main offer

Probably the worst time to start building the entire line of your brand – focus on what you already have. 

The scale-up mindset 

There are ways of how to effectively scale a startup business. However, when you think you’re prepared it’s often when you lose. It’s the mindset that tricks you and your development. 

Well, it’s not that easy to step out of the optimistic zone when your startup is prospering and is about to enter the scaling phase. Most founders struggle to get there and you’re already here! But be careful with optimism. A lot of successful cases move the startup founder’s attention away from the present. Instead of looking here and now, they think about how great things are going to be. 

So the last advice would be – be calm and always look realistic at your situation. 

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