The hidden keys to surviving scale

There are a lot of things that can hurt your business or brand.

Most people know the obvious — competition, product development, reaching customers, driving sales, market and economic conditions. You likely know about these challenges, even if you haven’t encountered them yet. We all do.

But, then there are the not so obvious obstacles.

Scale is one of them.

Small companies have concentrated talent. Things are simple, goals are clear.

It’s easy for everyone to know the vision, mission and plan. Creating and selling your product or service is more straightforward. Quality and consistency are simpler to maintain.

With scale comes complexity, and the concentration of talent gets lower. Everything becomes less efficient.

Expanding everything across your business can be challenging and nebulous. It can also hurt or even ruin your success.

How do you manage it? What should you expect?

First, you need to know when scale is necessary, and when it isn’t

A lot of companies and entrepreneurs focus on scaling their business or product when they really don’t need to. They want to have everything in place for future growth. But, this can lead to costly errors or expectations. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be prepared. I’m talking about when to take action. Because the action you think you need to take may not be what your business needs.

Plan and prepare for when you need to scale, but move carefully. Even if your business takes off, be mindful of the steps you take. Let your data be your guide and rely on smart people with relevant experience to help.

Focus on what your customers will need at scale, then work backwards

You’ll naturally want to think about scale on the back end of your business or brand. And, it’s good to do this. But, the heart of your company are the customers and you’ve got to make sure you consistently deliver first. Even the biggest companies in the world make this mistake. As they grow larger, they let the customer experience and product or service slip. Look around and you can find a lot of examples.

Put your customers and their needs first as you plan. Build the right infrastructure at the front and back end. Only you will know what this is, as every industry, product or service, are different.

Hire the right talent

Your employees and vendors ultimately drive your business success, and this holds true with scale. You wouldn’t hire a doctor who has provided foot care to do your open heart surgery, even if they have 20 years experience as a physician.

Just because someone has worked in business or ran a department somewhere doesn’t mean they’re capable of running yours.
Even with big titles or a resume full of major brand names, this is where a lot of businesses fail. They assume so and so from such and such company can run their business, only to find out quickly it’s to their detriment.

Look for true relevant experience, proven track record and specific expertise for the stage your business is at and needs to be, and both market and product fit. You don’t want to be the learning curve for someone who lacks this. This includes employees and vendors, and across every aspect of your organization.

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