Every entrepreneur starts their business with the goal of growth in mind. But when sales begin to pick up, it can come with mixed emotions. Growing your company can be both exciting and daunting because there are pitfalls both to moving too quickly and too slowly. Scale up too soon, and you may find you don’t have the reserves to support added staff and operations. Wait too long, and you may miss the window for becoming a top player in your niche.
It’s essential to wait for and recognize the signs that your business is really ready for the next step. So what are the signs that your business is not just prospering but is stable enough for you to scale up? Below, seven industry leaders from Business Journals Leadership Trust share their expert advice on the definitive signs that the time is right for leadership to scale up the company.
1. You’re unable to focus on the big picture.
It makes sense to wear many hats in the beginning, but if you find yourself completely in the weeds or handling every client request and putting out every fire, you know you need to scale up. If you don’t, you won’t be able to focus on the big picture and your business will become stagnant. – Jen Vargas, JVComms
2. You have the right team in place.
Having the right team in place is crucial before scaling — especially if growth is funded by outside investors. Ensure everyone is on the same wavelength in your growth roadmap. – Dorian Rader, OneTen° Capital
3. There’s a balance of support and sales.
We try to focus on the controlled growth of the company. Because of the nature of the consulting business, we maintain a strong focus on current project lead times, team availability and the backlog of work to make decisions about what direction to take the company in. It’s a delicate balance of making sure we have the team to support the work in the sales pipeline and vice versa. – Jamie Anderson, Emergent Software
4. You have a strong bench of talented workers.
If you have a strong bench with talent who can do more and handle complexity, you have a strong formula to scale. Additionally, if you have built strong processes that allow you to push more water through big pipes and essentially allow you to wash, rinse and repeat the work, then you are ready to scale. Lastly, if your competitors are scaling, then you’d best be ready to scale too. – Kimberly Janson, Janson Associates
5. Your resources are overflowing.
You’ll know the time to scale up is right when resources are overflowing: when your company has a surplus of cash flow and more prospects and clients than your team can service. Scaling can consist of additional technological support or additional staff. With an abundance of resources, pitfalls can be minimized and efficiency can be paramount. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management
6. You’ve built up sufficient revenue.
It’s a good time to scale when you’ve built up a war chest from profits or fundraising activities and the market is right to capitalize on disruption. – Todd Marks, Mindgrub
7. You’ve got a methodical approach in place.
You’ll instinctively know when it’s time to scale up your company in terms of employees, square footage, capital investments or overall resources. Always make sure you don’t overinvest in scaling up; instead, do it with a more methodical approach. Try scaling one area then moving to another so you don’t push all your chips to the center at the same time. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising