Launching a successful startup and scaling it into something self-sustaining is the dream of every entrepreneur. It takes a lot of work and plenty of careful planning, but if done correctly, you can see that dream become a reality.
Here’s how you can launch your startup and get it to grow:
1.Start with a Business Plan
No business can start without a plan.
This isn’t just an idea or a rough sketch of how your business will operate. A business plan is a road map. It’s a document that tells potential investors and stakeholders how the business will operate and how it will grow.
Your business plan needs to be in place from the very beginning. Without it, you may make uninformed, unresearched decisions that negatively affect your growth trajectory. And when you’re starting out, this can prove fatal.
2.Know the Difference Between Growth and Scaling Up
There’s a small but important distinction between growing your business and scaling it up.
When a business grows, you usually end up making the same or similar profits because your expenses will increase accordingly. You sell more products, so you need to buy or manufacture more products.
When you scale your business, you increase your potential for revenue without increasing your expenses by the same level. This means that you can make a higher profit when you effectively scale a business up.
3.Identify Your Target Market
You need to know who you’re selling to.
Your primary and secondary target markets need to be clearly defined and you need to build your marketing strategy accordingly. You need to know how to reach your audience effectively so that you can engage and encourage them to buy from your business. If you can’t do this, you can’t launch or scale your startup.
4.Put Together a Team
Your team is a critical part of your business—from the startup phase to successful global scale up. The team you hire or outsource work to needs to be cohesive and trustworthy. These individuals also need to bring a range of pertinent skills to the table so that you don’t have to be involved with every aspect of your business.
As your business grows or scales up, you need to ensure that you aren’t putting too much pressure on these team members. It’s your job as the boss to be aware of key responsibilities and when the load is too much for one person. Remember, the idea of scaling up is to keep expenses down. But there will always be some increase in cost to the business, and this might mean a new team member.
5.Automate and Streamline Processes
Technology is your friend in the world of scaling up a small business. There are so many business processes that can be fully or partially automated these days. You might not need them as you launch your business, but it’s a good idea to be aware of what is out there and build the use of technology into your business plan for the future.
The systems that most businesses should look at include a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, inventory management, cloud-based storage and document collaboration, and resource planning tools.
6.Build Your Marketing Campaigns Appropriately
Marketing is a key element at the launch and scaling up phase of any business.
When you first launch, you’ll likely rely more on word of mouth and online campaigns that are largely free. With the right kind of campaign, you can make a huge splash in the market for little money.
However, once you reach the phase of scaling your business, you need to reassess your marketing campaigns. You’ve done the groundwork with SEO and building an online presence (or at least you should’ve done it in the launch phase). Now, you can start to splash out on bigger campaigns to bring in the bigger spenders.
7.Get Access to a Line of Credit or a Loan
Starting a business takes money, and scaling a business usually requires another large cash injection. It’s important to have access to this money easily so that you can launch when the timing is just right.
Any business should open a line of credit in the good times so that they can draw on that money when they need to increase their output.
8.Get the Timing Right
A launch is all about timing.
You need to understand your business, your target market, your industry and the current economy perfectly before taking the plunge. For a scaling up operation, you need to look for the right signs within your business.
These signs include hitting your key performance indicators, consistently sitting in a positive cash flow, a settled team within the business and a good brand reputation. These all say that your business should be able to handle a well-executed scaling strategy.
10.Lower Costs Where Possible
It’s always a good idea to keep your expenses down in a business.
You need to know how to calculate profit margin and ensure that you don’t eat into it too much or run at a loss. At times of change—like a launch or scaling up—it’s extra important to see where you can keep regular operating costs down because you’re likely putting a large injection of cash into your new venture.
Ensure Your Business Can Run Without You
The final step, and one that many entrepreneurs forget about, is that you need to ensure that you aren’t the entire business. If you were to step away, the business should be able to carry on running without a hitch.
This is especially important as you start to grow or scale your startup. Once operations get too large for one person to handle, you need to have other people and procedures in place to cover this.
With the Right Planning, Any Startup Can Scale Up
It’s vital that you take the time to put proper strategies, performance indicators and structures in place before you make a major leap with your business. This is true for the initial launch and it’s true for any growth or scaling launches.
Use these strategies to launch and scale up, and you’ll have a far better chance of success.
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