As we build our business, we must consider how to scale it That is, how do we take our current model and apply it to a larger context. For many entrepreneurs, we’re working from models that positively cannot grow. Because of how we’ve structured our operations, we’re limited by the hours in the day or the sheer number of items we can create. Growing does not mean we just multiply exactly what we’re doing now. For example, imagine a business that creates independently designed wall decals and works 10 hours a day: design + create + print + photograph + list + connect + ship + task manage…. they cannot simply do more of this to grow. They need to analyze their model, make tweaks, and do things smarter.
I write a lot about creatives finding their own path in the small business world. There are no magic promises or specific recipes for success. The same goes for scaling a business for growth. It’s a wonderfully specialized process, unique to each small business. However, there are a few concepts we can take, modify, and apply – shaping our own roadmaps for growth.
4 Ways to Position Your Business for Growth
- Adjust your model. Whether it’s deliberate or not – all businesses function with a model. It may be well defined or loosely translated, but it’s there. Think about how you do business. Do you provide services individually? Create items one at a time? Design work solely upon request? These models may not be set up for growth as they are, but slight changes can make a huge difference. Adjusting your model requires staying true to your core business values yet doing things a bit differently so you can build upon what you’ve got.
- Vary your revenue stream. Going hand in hand with adjusting your business model, identifying additional sources of revenue is also an excellent way to grow a business. For example, in the spirit of growth, a custom clothing designer might also create a side collection of ready to wear items, a graphic artist may offer additional prepared designs for purchase, and a painter might consider sharing some of her work as prints of the original. All of these are working from the same core concept, but applying slight changes to adjust their model for efficiency and increase profits.
- Narrow your niche. It’s a heckuva lot easier to grow a business that has a specific purpose. Many creative businesses start out making and doing just about anything and everything (me? guilty as charged!) but we need to narrow in with laser like focus and find our very own place before we look to grow.
A few examples from too broad to finely tuned:
“Handmade pottery items” vs. “Pottery created for a simple, minimalist home”
“Art Prints” vs. “Bold art with the modern nursery in mind”
“Logo work” vs. “Custom graphic designs telling story of your business”
“Women’s accessories” vs. “Boutique hand-dyed scarves for day and evening wear”
Looking at these examples of defined niches, we can see which ones have room…and the strategic position to grow.
- Streamline your process. When we analyze our business model and consider how we’re operating, we’ll undoubtedly find areas that consume much of our time. As we look to grow our businesses, it’s imperative to increase our efficiency. I suggest creating a weekly diary, logging all of the time spent on business tasks to help identify areas that need some attention. We might find that some tasks can be bundled together (eg. all computer-related tasks), we can delegate some of the more tedious work, or rearrange our schedule for greater impact. It’s easy to get into a routine and think we’re operating efficiently, but something like a weekly log or even just describing your work week to others can be enough of a jolt to recognize areas for improvement.
There are many factors to consider when growing a business, and I’ve just touched on a few. But hopefully we’re feeling empowered to tackle that intimidating wall of growth and are ready to position, expand, and build our businesses. Wider, brighter horizons ahead!
Is your business positioned for growth or stuck in unscalable? What changes can you make to prepare for growth? What does growth look like to you? Please share in the comments!