7 Business Scaling Strategies for Growing Your Business

7 Business Scaling Strategies for Growing Your Business

Building a successful company is about much more than increasing sales and revenue.

When scaling a business, an organization also needs the right strategy, team, and processes in place to support new customers, products, and services.

While any business leader dreams of becoming an overnight success, successful scaling involves building and executing a long-term, sustainable strategy. No matter the size of your business, understanding what it means to scale and identifying actionable steps you can take to do so are both key to reaching your goals.

What does “scaling a business” mean?

The terms “growth” and “scale” are often used interchangeably. While the two are related, they have distinct differences.

Growth refers to increasing revenue at the same rate that a business adds resources—such as new team members, technology, and capital, to name a few. On the other hand, scaling is when an organization identifies ways to grow more efficiently, resulting in revenue growth at a substantially greater rate than increases in resources and expenses.

Scaling a business requires thoughtful, strategic planning. According to data from McKinsey, only 22% of new businesses launched in the past decade have successfully scaled.

Common mistakes businesses often make during the scaling process include:

  • Scaling too fast
  • Prioritizing short-term over long-term goals
  • Losing focus
  • Hiring for quantity over quality
  • Overlooking processes and systems to drive efficiency
  • Lacking agility

Businesses that successfully scale take into consideration how the process impacts all areas of the organization. Key elements include:

  • Company goals. When setting goals to scale your business, focusing on both short- and long-term goals is important. By overemphasizing short-term goals, your organization risks scaling too quickly and ignoring infrastructure needs for long-term success.

    Also keep in mind both outcome and process goals when planning your scaling strategy. Outcome goals are the end result you look to achieve, while process goals are the steps you will take to get there. For example, if your outcome goal is to double your customer retention rate, identify actionable steps you will take to improve the customer experience and engagement. Another key when setting goals is remaining agile, so your team will be prepared to pivot your strategy if the market or customer needs shift.

  • Number of team members. Businesses that scale too quickly might make the assumption that if the goal is to double revenue, this means the organization also needs to double headcount. This isn’t likely to be a sustainable strategy, especially if revenue growth slows. Instead of building your team with quantity in mind, prioritize quality. Engage skilled leaders who can help oversee and motivate team members. Bring on talented individuals with the specialized skills you need to meet your business goals.

  • Internal processes. A key to successfully scaling your business is implementing repeatable day-to-day processes and effective standardized workflows. Think about which processes can be automated or made more efficient to help your company more effectively scale—whether it’s onboarding team members, invoicing customers, or requesting a marketing asset, to name a few.

    The practice of individual team members creating their own processes each time they complete a task or execute on a strategy isn’t scalable. It leads to more time spent manually completing tasks and makes getting new team members up to speed more challenging. Having documented processes in place can have a significant, positive impact on your organization’s ability to scale.  

7 tips for scaling a business

Every business strategy is unique, but companies that successfully scale often follow many of the same best practices. These tips will point you in the right direction of building a winning scaling strategy.

Here are seven tips to consider as you scale your business:

1. Strategize how to increase sales

Increasing sales is a top priority for any business looking to scale. Scaling sales can either mean adding new customers or growing the average revenue from current customers. While both options drive results, expanding your relationship with current customers is often more cost-effective than attracting new business. On average, getting a new customer can cost six to seven times more than keeping and engaging customers you already have.  

To scale—rather than grow—your business, think of ways to increase sales while maximizing profit and minimizing additional resources.

Some best practices to increase sales include:

  • Zone in on a target market
  • Understand customer behavior
  • Address customer feedback  
  • Build a team of skilled sales representatives
  • Develop an effective marketing plan
  • Manage leads and customer relationships with CRM software
  • Refine your message

2. Invest in technology

A global study from Automation Anywhere found that the average worker spends than roughly 40% of their day on manual administrative tasks. With the right technology, many of these tasks can be automated, freeing up time for team members to focus more on broader business goals and strategic priorities.

Automating manual tasks is critical to scaling a business because you can drive improved business outcomes among the team members you already have on board.

To scale your business, consider investing in technology to help automate tasks and processes such as:

  • Team member onboarding
  • Accounting and payroll
  • Customer relationship management
  • Project management
  • Appointment scheduling

When thinking about how to scale your business through automation, compare different technology partners and vendors based on usability, customer service, implementation timeline, cost, and other key criteria.

In addition to automating tasks, standardizing your business processes using technology will help as you build your team. Implementing approved technology and documenting a clear set of instructions for specific tasks will make the scaling process much smoother.

Related: What is Digital Transformation and Why Does it Matter?

3. Expand your team according to the market’s needs

As you map out the team you need to scale your business, a first step is determining the skills required to meet your goals and identifying any skills gaps you have on your team.

Think about specific hard and soft skills that will help your organization drive business outcomes and best support customers. Hard skills are job-specific, technical, measurable competencies gained through education and experience. Soft skills are self-developed traits that help individuals work well in a team, lead by example, and adapt well to a company’s culture. Soft skills can be a bit tricky to define and measure, but are no less important than hard skills.

Examples of hard and soft skills include:

  • Hard skills. Coding, business analytics, search engine optimization, graphic design, project management
  • Soft skills. Agility, customer service, communication, organization, time management

Also take leadership skills into consideration, as leaders on your team are responsible for providing direction and ensuring team members understand what needs to be accomplished to achieve your business goals.

Examples of leadership skills include:

  • Active listening
  • Problem-solving
  • Relationship building
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Delegation

Eliminate the guesswork that comes with finding the right skill fit for your team. Upwork is available to help you engage independent talent with the right skills to scale your business.

4. Get external help

During the early stages of business growth, many organizations have a handful of core team members who wear multiple hats. However, in the long run, expecting every team member to be a high-performing generalist can lead to costly errors and burnout. As you scale your business, consider bringing in skilled specialists to improve efficiency and drive outcomes.

Engaging specialized talent might sound costly and challenging to scale, which can be the case with full-time workers if they aren’t yet needed full time. Instead, businesses are increasingly embracing a more cost-effective option: independent professionals. In fact, 78% of businesses have used remote independent talent in the past year, while 47% plan to use more in the next two years.

Rather than making the business case and waiting for budget approval to hire full-time workers, independent professionals are often paid on a per-project basis and can be brought in as needed. This enables you to create a variable cost for talent, compared to the traditional fixed cost for full-time workers. With this approach, you can more efficiently scale your team while reducing costs, boosting productivity, and driving business agility.

As you look for talented independent professionals to scale your business, you don’t have to approach the search alone. Enterprise Suite is a powerful platform that offers immediate access to top independent professionals, contractors, consultants, and agencies. There’s never been a more flexible way to hire, as Enterprise Suite takes all the logistical and operational headaches off your hands, helping you quickly fill internal skill gaps and build your dream team.

5. Create a plan around realistic goals

Businesses that effectively scale strike the right balance between setting reasonable, yet challenging goals. Goals that aren’t clear or realistic might demotivate team members, which can have a negative impact on your ability to scale. Once the leadership team aligns on goals, communicate your plan with the entire team to get everyone on board and excited to contribute.

For example, let’s say you set a goal to achieve a 50% increase in sales over the next year. To achieve this goal, you might set monthly or quarterly milestones along the way. This can then trickle down into setting expectations for individual team members related to the total number of calls and meetings with prospects, based on historical data on the average number of meetings required to close a sale.

When setting a plan or timeline to achieve goals, keep in mind seasonality throughout the year. For example, sales or hiring might slow during the summer when many people take time away from work. Have a plan in place to account for these slower periods as you break down your milestones for each month or quarter. To build and execute a business plan that will help your organization effectively scale, consider enlisting the help of an experienced business planner.  

6. Develop management skills

Managers at your organization are responsible for motivating team members and achieving independent team goals—as well as holding team members accountable for outcomes. Individual managers’ effectiveness can have a direct impact on your organization’s likelihood to successfully scale. Therefore, managers across departments need to have the right skills to drive positive business outcomes.

Whether you’re developing management skills among your current team members, hiring full-time workers, or engaging business managers, identify the most important skills that will positively contribute to scaling your business.

Management skills can include:

  • Critical thinking
  • Strategic planning
  • Time management
  • Change management
  • Leadership

Related: 5 In-Demand Management Skills

7. Focus the company’s offerings

Companies with a main priority of growth—as opposed to scale—focus on bringing in as much revenue as possible, often casting a wide net with company offerings and targeted customers. This approach can drive initial revenue, but often poses risks to long-term growth and scalability.

Lacking focus with company offerings can lead to engaging customers who aren’t the best fit for a company’s solutions or neglecting current customers because the business is too focused on bringing on new ones. It also leaves little room for a business to stand out as an expert on any specific solution or industry.

Organizations that successfully scale understand the importance of focusing their products, services, and target market. This can position your business to better meet the needs of your core customers, stand out from the competition, and become a market leader.

Here are a few ways to focus your company’s offering:

  • Understand your strengths and weaknesses
  • Carve out a niche for your products and services (think customer size and industry)
  • Calculate your total addressable market
  • Assess the competition
  • Identify your target customers’ challenges
  • Learn from current customers’ behavior and preferences
  • Develop solutions and messaging that address customer pain points

While focusing your business offerings can help you gain a competitive advantage, it’s not a one-and-done strategy. Your organization should continuously evaluate the market, the latest technology, and your customers’ needs, and evolve your offerings over time to scale your business long-term.

Get help from Upwork with any scaling strategy

Scaling a business means building a clear strategy that outlines key milestones one, five, and 10 years down the line—and beyond. It also means aligning your short-term goals with your long-term goals so you scale at a manageable pace. By keeping the big picture and your company vision in focus and building the right team, your business will be in a strong position to successfully scale.

Upwork is here to help you confidently source, engage, and manage independent professionals with the skills you need to scale your business. With Enterprise Suite, we’ll partner with you to develop a strong, scalable talent strategy and build a custom solution that delivers the greatest impact on your business success. Learn more and get started today.


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Author Spotlight

7 Business Scaling Strategies for Growing Your Business
Beth Kempton
Content Writer

Beth Kempton is a B2B writer with a passion for storytelling and more than a decade of content marketing experience. She specializes in writing engaging long-form content, including blog posts, thought leadership pieces, SEO articles, case studies, ebooks and guides, for HR technology and B2B SaaS companies. In her free time, you can find Beth reading or running.

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