Growing Vs Scaling.
So you want to grow your business? You're ready for the next level of success, and naturally, you're going to increase profits. Simple.
If you're about to tune out because your business doesn't yet make a profit or you're so overwhelmed that the thought of doing more of anything makes you want to hurl your cookies, stick with me.
The advice I am about to share empowers you to gain control of your business at any level. Want to make $50k a year and work 10 hours? Great, you're in the right place. Want to build an empire and make millions? Fabulous, you're still in the right place.
I have so many hints and tips that can significantly improve the business you have right now. Don't wait until you're ready, you have the headspace, or you're already profitable to take action because the actions will make you ready, give you headspace and create profit.
There is a world of difference between growing a business and scaling a business, and it is a conscious decision you have to make with deliberate actions to back up those decisions.
Business growth often happens very organically. You launch your offers, customers start buying, you get busier, you sell more, and you spend more. You will likely need to bring on staff, increase the size of your business premises and take on more debt to fund your growth. Nothing wrong with any of that; it's actually what a lot of business coaches focus on. They focus on accelerating that growth, so it's less about waiting for growth to come to you and more about pursuing opportunities.
You (hopefully) will make more in profit because you're spending more. For example, today, you might be making $10k per month in sales and keeping 20% or $2k of that in profits; as you grow, you might start hitting $100k per month in sales and $20k per month in profit.
The goal was more profit, and you achieved that. The downside is the investment you might have had to make to reach that level of sales.
Your business now has much higher expenses, more legal responsibilities like insuring your workers, a lot more risk, significant cash flow needs, and overall just more people and more things to keep in check.
Here is where scaling is different; the objective is to increase profit faster than you increase spendings. So instead of investing $8k to make $2k in profits you aim for $5k and make $5k of profits.
Scale that up to $100k per month, and you're spending $50k and keeping $50k. Sounds good, right?
So why would anyone choose to grow if you can choose to scale?
As I mentioned before, scaling is a very conscious decision and requires you to do things that business owners historically suck at;
- Not over-servicing
- Not underpricing
- creating solid systems and processes
- Not micromanaging
- Not trying to perfect everything
You are looking at the bigger picture instead of spending your days stuck in the to-do list of tasks.
The reason people don't take this path is the same reason I don't have the body I dream of. I want the body of a fitspo influencer, not an overstuffed couch cushion.
Am I prepared to do the work? Make the changes? Be consistent? Be uncomfortable? Follow someone else's advice? No. None of the above. So I make peace with my cushiony body and get on with my life because my desire for the outcome doesn't outweigh my need for comfort.
People take the easiest route over the strategic route every day. Every time I change my bedsheets, I pull half of the contents of my linen cupboard out. I am not a stupid person, nor am I lazy when it comes to my home.
I like clean, I like organised, but I still don't change my ways. The inconvenience of my weekly pillowcase rummage hasn't yet pushed me over into taking the action of organising those shelves.
I once left a magnetic board on my office floor for five months, I kicked it at least three times a week, and it hurt, yet walking down the stairs into the garage to get the drill and bits to attach it to the wall felt like a bigger inconvenience.
That is, until one day, I kicked it really hard; I finally had enough and spent all of 10 minutes putting it up on the wall. The pain of kicking it weekly eventually become a more considerable pain than screwing it up on the wall.
How do my stories of complacency relate to scaling?
You can take the easy route (although let's all agree, there isn't an easy route in business), or you can think strategically about growing vs scaling your business.
Does this mean you need to dump all your current ways of doing business and become a professor of scaling a business?
No, but you can take a mix of growth and scale to help you achieve your goals. Remember the Profit Lovers mantra; Profitable + Liveable + Loveable. We want a balance of each, and a mix of scaling and growing is a great way to achieve that.
Let's run through a quick example:
A massive warehouse shipping $100k a month in product and delivery fat $20k profit deposits to your bank account sounds delicious. But not if you hate every single day, the pressure is massive, you never see your friends and family, your kids are doing their homework in the break room, and you feel like you're juggling the world and about to drop it into the toilet.
The alternative, scaling a business, is a lot less organic because it requires you to metaphorically arrange your linen cupboard. You have to want the outcome enough to put the effort in to create the change.
Unless you're a natural-born visionary and leader, it's doubtful you will organically build a scaleable business. Someone who never considers doing any work themselves because they were born thinking like a CEO is a better fit for scaling.
That doesn't describe my Profit Lovers at all; we are busting at the seams with amazing, kind, generous, talented women who do too much for others and complain very little when they don't get much in return. Women who want to make a difference, who care about their impact and who tend to push others to the front to take the limelight. Women who often are perfectionists get caught up in detail, spend their lives doing everything themselves, hate being an imposition on others, rarely ask and never expect people to give them advice.
I am right? Am I hitting some hot buttons here?
That isn't a rhetorical question; I would love to answer that. So take a quick screenshot of this episode (or blog post) or yourself listening or reading along, share it to your Insta stories, and tag me if you think I get you.
If that sounds like you, you're going to need to pay attention to how to scale.
First up, don't scale a business if you have no clue if it will ever be profitable.
Actually, don't go a day further in your business without knowing if it can be profitable. I hate the moment someone hands their business model and financials over to me; I run numbers and find out they can grow, but they will never make a profit (so what's the point), or they can't scale at all because there is zero money to outsource anything.
Just because you have a business and sell things for more than they cost to make or purchase doesn't mean you're profitable. Once you factor in expenses, returns, cost of customer support, marketing, taxes and everything else it takes to run a business, you might be left with very little or nothing at all.
Worst case scenario is your business costs you money to run. So please, make sure you can create profit, even if you do not yet see any profits.
Let's start the action talk, what you need to look out for and the decision you need to make to scale instead of grow.
Of course, my first suggestion is that you need to have a plan. Scaling is about making proactive decisions, designing the business you want then working towards your business growing in that way.
No doubt there will be hits and misses along the way, you're likely going to have to modify your plans or move things around, and that's ok! As long as there is an objective you're working towards.
You're going to need to be willing to invest some money. Women are so hesitant to spend money in their businesses, and I understand that. I don't have another person bringing income to my house, so I am pretty conservative when investing my hard-earned business dollars.
The choices to be made shouldn't be should I invest money or not; it should be where can I invest my money to get the best outcome for me.
You can invest money to free up time, buy back some headspace, or bring in a skill you don't have. As long as you make a conscious decision about what you're outsourcing and what you're hoping to achieve, you should feel confident.
If you're unsure what to outsource or how to get started, check out Season One, Episode Five, Uncovering your Queen Profit Bee Role in Four Easy Steps.
That episode will guide you through deciding what your unique role is in your business and what you can outsource. I even give you some tips on how to plan for outsourcing financially.
Investing some coins in outsourcing is one step, but you're also going to need to likely step up your marketing spend. Investing in marketing should be a no-brainer for all business owners; it gets confusing or a little scary when you don't have any mechanisms for tracking your results. When money is tight, the first thing a lot of business owners will ditch is their marketing spend.
Let me tell you a crazy story, and this is one of many examples of this exact situation.
I had a client, let's call her Kate, who had hit the limit of what she could achieve without spending on marketing. There is that ceiling that most businesses will hit when they need to inject some marketing money to break through to the next level. Kate was there.
We put in a killer automated marketing funnel driven by Facebook ads. Kate's return on her investment was $8.50 for every $1 she spent. She was spending around $3k per month on ads and making about $26k in sales. We had adjusted her pricing up so we could absorb the ad money she was spending. *That's a great tip, by the way; if you're underpricing, you have kneecapped your ability to grow because there is no fat in your pricing to spend on marketing.
Anyway, back to Kate…
At the end of a 6-month coaching engagement, Kate's business was exceeding her sales goals, quickly hitting her profit goals (because remember, sales are great, but profit is what pays us).
Her marketing was an automated money machine, and she was ready to invest in a new space for her business. Kate went to her accountant to have her financials reviewed. The accountant told Kate she was spending way too much on marketing. He gave her the advice lots of accountants give; cut your spending to improve your profits.
So Kate cut her ad spend.
Any guesses what happened next?
Kate's ad spend went from $3k per month to $300 per month, her marketing funnel slowed right down, her sales slowed right down, and her profits all but disappeared.
Of course, it took about six months for everything to slow right down, and in that time, her profit looked terrific because she was reaping the rewards of previous great marketing, but she was not maintaining that momentum for the future.
Kate spent her big boost in profits on securing a bank loan to invest in new premises but had turned the tap down so far on her marketing that within 6 months, she was struggling.
Finally, she came back to me; we undid all the shite advice from her accountant and were able to reverse out a lot of the damage, but not without one hell of a fight.
Kate later sold that business that she had scaled, not grown, to a competitor for an eye-watering but totally deserved sum of money.
You have to be willing to invest in marketing and know what your return is. You also need to understand how to manage your own business so that no accountant or business coach or anyone for that matter can make you feel like you don't know what you're doing.
That is what happened to Kate; she assumed her accountant knew more than she did. He didn't. You need to be the best advocate for your business; you can do that by growing your confidence around numbers and tracking.
Investing in automation is the next area I want you to consider; when you're scaling, you're looking at as many ways as possible to make life easier.
The more you can automate, the more consistent your business will become and, most importantly, the less reliant on you it becomes.
Think about your client or customer on-boarding or welcome process; it doesn't matter if you sell body scrub or high-end coaching. Having an automated welcome in place sets up a nice consistent experience for your customer or clients. If you're manually doing this, you're likely not to follow through when you're busy, sick or otherwise distracted.
With tasks like client or customer billing, automation is super important. It makes the process of getting money out of customers or clients hands and into your bank as streamlined as possible.
Do you know how many Profit Lovers I have worked with that had money outstanding that they never chased up, or they waited for weeks and even months? That messes up your cash flow, so automating the process is worth the investment.
If you run an eCommerce store and are unwilling to invest in automation like shopping cart recovery, you're dropping cash and missing out on sales. The hesitancy to invest in the tools that will pay off when you use them is frustrating, I understand it's money you need to spend, but if you pay attention to the numbers, you will soon see if the investment is worth it or not.
We have talked about outsourcing and investing, now let's cover letting go…
You have to let stuff go if you want to scale. You can't be fussing and faffing over every single detail of your business.
There is not a sane business person alive who can review every customer service email, check every social media post, create and deliver every product or service, and still successfully scale a business.
Part of scaling is empowering others to take over where appropriate. You can't be checking the font size on every email campaign and banking a million bucks a year. Nor should you want to.
Your role is to oversee your business from a height, not be digging around every day in the weeds. Also, not sure if anyone has told you this, but you're not the expert in everything. You're just not. So drop the ego by the door. It's not going to help you scale or grow.
So that was a mean way to end today's podcast/blog, with a direct hit of Melanie advice… but it call comes from love.