How to upgrade and upscale your business – my top tips

Your start-up business has become a success and now your aim is for bigger and better things.

Maybe you want to hire staff, expand to new locations or simply develop and offer new services, but how exactly do you go about upgrading and upscaling your business?

One thing to bear in mind before I share my top tips on expansion is to ensure that your grand plans don’t put your current business at risk. If you make the jump to the next step too soon, you could jeopardise what you’ve taken so long to establish.

Make sure your business has been consistently performing well for several months and that now really is the right time to help it grow.

If you’re turning down work/customers more often than not, your earnings have reached a natural cap or your customers are asking for services that you’re not offering yet, the time is probably right.

So, how do you start to upgrade and upscale your business?

Make sure you have the right business processes in place

Automate anything that you can to streamline your business and create time to plan and expand.

Onboarding new customers can be a time-consuming business. Do you have a clear process in place for answering questions, signing contracts and taking payment?

Having a new client pack with FAQs, example contract, payment terms, etc can save you time and effort from lengthy phone calls trying to explain the same information to every new customer you take on.

Have a quick read on my blog about business processes and how you can identify ways to streamline and save yourself time.

One thing to avoid through automation is losing the personal touch. For many small businesses or sole traders, it’s the personal touch and customer service that has been a big factor in your success. Do make sure that you find a balance between automation and personalisation wherever you can.

Start building a team by outsourcing

Taking on staff can be a terrifying prospect and an expensive one.

It’s unlikely you’re ready to take that jump just yet so outsourcing parts of your work that isn’t essential for you to be doing is a great idea for freeing up some of that much-needed time. If it takes you too long to do a task, you don’t enjoy it or you know that someone else can do it better than you, it’s time to outsource.

I’m a big advocate of outsourcing and I wouldn’t have been able to grow my business into the success it is today without it.

Although it was scary handing over tasks to start with, once I saw the results from their efforts it was a no brainer to continue outsourcing, and I even started looking for more and more tasks I could shed from my daily routine and pass to another business.

Tasks you might want to consider outsourcing could be:

  • accounting and payroll
  • admin and call answering/customer service
  • business development and strategy
  • marketing including blogging, blog management, content creation and social media
  • website maintenance and search engine optimisation

If there’s a task in your business then there’s a freelancer or business that specialises in doing it, with the skills and expertise you might not have. So definitely look into outsourcing as a priority.

Make sure your business can run without you

That might sound crazy when you are your business, but if it’s going to grow into something bigger that means you need to be able to step back from your operational role into a more strategic one.

While you might not be ready to take the plunge and take on staff, knowing potential job descriptions inside out now will give you an idea if your business could survive if you were no longer doing the day to day work.

Identify the kind of people you want to recruit, the skills they will have and what they will be able to do that you can’t is crucial in growing your business. Employing more people doing the same as you will help you take on more clients and work, but will it help you grow your business into the vision you have for it?

This step can also help you identify skills you don’t have, or tasks that you really don’t want to do that you can outsource at this point.

If taking on staff isn’t on the agenda for now, consider what might happen if you’re unable to work for a few weeks or months, due to illness, for example. Could it survive without you? Do you have a contingency plan in place with trusted business owners ready to step in and take the reins for a while?

Create a business and marketing plan to make it happen

Once you’ve got those all-important processes in place, you’ve saved as much time and effort as you can through outsourcing and you know how you want to upscale your business, it’s time to put a plan in place to make it happen.

Where do you want your business to be in 6 months, 12 months and 3 years’ time?

  • Do you want to take on employees?
  • Do you want to offer new services/products?
  • Do you want to do less work but generate more income?
  • Do you want to increase clients and profits?

Whatever you have in mind, consider what needs to happen to make it a reality.

Also, make sure that there’s demand for what you want to do. Market research and target audience feedback are essential at this stage to ensure that where you want to take your business will have the customers ready and waiting for you.

What kind of skills and resources will you need in place? Can you provide those or are you going to have to apply for grants/loans, outsource or take on staff?

How are you going to implement the changes you want to make?

How are you going to market and promote the changes to attract new customers to your business and ensure that it grows how you want it to?

Take time to brainstorm these considerations and put a solid plan in place for making it happen. This is the time to be consulting business development and marketing consultants to go over your ideas and give peace of mind that they are realistic and achievable.

So, those are my top tips for upgrading and upscaling your business. There’s no “one size fits all” strategy that you can put in place for your business, but I hope I’ve given you some food for thought and ideas on how you can make things happen for you.

If you’d like to discuss outsourcing in more detail and how I’ve made it work for me, do get in touch for a friendly chat.