Business Development

Sage Explains How You Can Build a Scalable Business From Day One

Staff writer | 19 October 2021 | 3 years ago

scalable business

Starting your own business, as rewarding as it may be in the end, can sometimes be overwhelming. Getting the right advice early on is crucial, which is why Sage has been helping business owners across the UK find out how to make their business scalable with their dedicated podcast for small businesses; Sound Advice: get year one in business right.

The podcast brings together real stories with actionable advice, featuring practical tips on a range of topics that listeners can take away and use to grow their business from day one. As not everyone has a business background, the question arises of how do you build a scalable business with little to no experience?

Below are some top tips from small business owners and small business expert and leading business journalist, Rebecca Burn-Callander, on how you can do this:

What is meant by ‘scale up your business’?

 Scaling up your business means it’s at a point where it’s able to handle an increase in sales, work or output. This is when the business is experiencing growth and is ready to go to the next level.

Get your business in great shape first

 Work out what areas of the business need to be stress-tested thoroughly before you go ahead and scale up. For example, think about the IT systems of a startup e-commerce business. If it were to scale up and suddenly receive 100x more orders, can its existing systems and website handle the extra demand? If the answer is no then it needs to work out how to prepare systems and upgrade them if necessary in order to cope with the additional orders.

Steve Oliver, co-founder of musicMagpie, explains why this is important in episode 18 when he discusses selling in the US market. He says, “Make sure you’ve got everything working in your home market and that you’ve got the cash, resources, and capacity to grow, (before you expand).”

Build your team

Getting your team ready for your planned business upscaling is absolutely vital as you’ll need to ensure that everyone is ready for this change. It’s also important to make sure you assess what skills, knowledge and additional training they might need in order to achieve your businesses expansion plans.

In some instances you may find you need to recruit additional staff. However it should be noted that finding new employees with the right skills, knowledge and experience is a key obstacle facing many small businesses that want to scale up.

Dr Zara Nanu, activist, campaigner, and founder of Gapsquare also explains in episode 14, why it’s important to hire for ‘disruption’ and not for a ‘cultural fit’. She said, “We look at hiring for disruption. It’s more challenging because you get many more views, and you have to understand and listen to those views. We might have five people meeting where three think differently and don’t agree with the other two. But if the culture within the organisation is that they won’t be listened to, they won’t express those views. There’s very little value in that.”

This ultimately leads to a better outcome, and overall a more successful business because these conversations are where the best ideas emerge, as Dr Zara Nanu explains further. “We actively encourage everyone to challenge each other and have conversations where it might seem like we’re arguing, but I love them because it means that we’re going to have a better outcome emerge out of there.”

Keep on top of your costs

Keeping on top of and controlling your costs is vital. It will allow you to make more accurate forecasts about the level of company expenditure needed for future expansion. If costs aren’t under control, you may find that the extra demand derived from business expansion could end up making the company less profitable than it was previously, or worse, not profitable at all.

A top tip is to invest in forecasting software. It will allow you to project how your costs may change based on different business decisions or circumstances, and what (if any) impact these changes could have on overall profitability.

 Automate your business

In episode two of Sound Advice, Julien Callede, co-founder of Made.com, explains that it’s easier to scale up with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). An ERP is a type of software to help manage day-to-day business activities, such as procurement, project management, risk management and compliance plus supply chain operations. It brings together multiple parts of the business, which in turn will help to free up your time to focus on scaling up.

Always think ahead

Having your business in top shape and ready for expansion, means that your path is likely to be smoother. Having this mindset of always thinking ahead will help you devise solutions to challenges early on.

The key thing to remember when you’re looking to scale up your business is that in order to successfully expand, preparation is key. You’ll no doubt face challenges as all business owners do. However, by heeding the advice of others who have been through the same process, you’ll be in a much better position to make your business a long-term success.

Subscribe to the Sound Advice podcast on Apple iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts, for more expert tips on setting up your own business and what you need to know to scale it up.

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