Scaling Sustainably

Scaling your business is so exciting! Whether you’re transitioning your side hustle to a full-time career, going from just you to a team, or growing your team, or adding new products, services and even departments, it’s an incredible journey!

There are so many different digital tools these days that can make your business run more smoothly, and make it all around easier. Knowing which ones will be the best fit for your business right now and as it grows is something that can be figured out with your own research, and then consulting with a professional.

So let’s skip that part, and go straight to why and how to scale sustainably!

Questions to Ask Before You Scale

  • Why do you want to scale your business?
    • How will scaling your business benefit you?
    • How could scaling impact you/your business in a negative way?
    • Are you naturally growing and want to make the most of it?
    • Are you being pressured externally in any way?
  • How will your own job/role change when you scale?
    • Will you be taking on work and tasks that suit your skillset, or will this require you to develop new skills?
    • Do you have experience doing what will be required of you? If not, can you hire someone to show you the ropes?
    • Will you have to give up the parts of your business that you love and excel at?
  • Are you at the right place and the right time to scale?
    • Are you excited and ready for a challenge? Or are you already overextended and on the verge of burnout?
    • Are all your current systems and processes documented? Yes, all of them ;)
      • Note: Even if you’re just using email and social media to make sales at this point, you have processes and systems to how you work.
  • What metrics can you track to make sure you don’t overextend yourself, burnout or go bust?
  • Do you have savings/extra padding in your bank account to cover unexpected crises or emergency fixes?
  • Are you in a place to handle changes to your income, whether it’s extra GST/PST and income tax, or having to cut your own pay to accommodate your growth?
  • Do you have family/community support to take on extra childcare or household responsibilities, so you can have more time to work and time to rest? If not, do you have extra income to hire someone to cook, clean, anything to give you some extra breathing room?

How to Scale Sustainably

Before you make any moves to grow your business, make sure you’re in good shape!

Document your systems and processes in full. That includes every piece of your role, any staff you currently have, vendors that you work with, software you use, etc.

Depending on the nature and stage of your business, it could take anywhere from a week to several months to document everything in detail.

If your business is manageable, track and measure your current output. How long does it currently take to get things done? How many people do you currently need to do it? How much money does it cost? 

If it’s not manageable, focus your efforts there first!

Note: make sure to identify where your pain points are, and where things running smoothly!

Once you have that information and data outlined, create a few growth scenarios so you can envision what scaling your business might look like. You can experiment with timeline, which roles you hire out for, areas you’d like to grow, etc. 

Review your growth scenarios and identify what kind of supports you would need for each. For example, which digital tools would help you transition? Will you need more staff? If yes, what kind of roles would you be hiring for? Make sure to include how much time you’ll need to implement new tools, or train new people, and what kind of funds you’ll need to cover those costs as well.

The Truth About Growing Your Business

Scaling will take more out of you than it will give back initially. Depending on your business, it could be anywhere from 3-12 months of extra admin, training, management, etc. before you ease back into a comfortable rhythm.

The faster the growth, the harder you’ll work and the riskier it is.

Every stage of business is a huge learning curve. You can’t know what you don’t know before you’re in it. Growing slowly gives you a better chance of dealing with unexpected challenges and curveballs. Make sure you’re setting yourself up for success in a holistic way by taking it nice and slow. Bonus: you’ll get to savour your progress!

No matter how big or small your business is, you deserve to grow it in a sustainable and holistic way. One that centres your wellbeing, and that of your team—and your business.