Every business owner wonders how to achieve their business goals as quickly as possible. No one wants to spend years getting their business to the point where revenue is reliable; they want to scale further faster. How do you make that happen?
There are four categories of resources that can help you scale your business: tools, people, expertise, and mindset. Each of these requires an investment from you either in terms of time, money, or both. If that makes you feel hesitant, remind yourself that, though the efforts you’ve made so far have gotten you to this point, those efforts alone will not get you to the next level.
Henry Ford said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” If you want different results, you need to do things differently. Throughout every stage of business, you need to adjust what you’re doing and how you’re doing it because that’s the only way your business will continue to grow.
Here is how you can scale your business through each of the four categories.
The Pareto principle states that roughly “80% of outcomes (or outputs) result from 20% of all causes (or inputs).” In simple terms, a small percentage of efforts have an outsized effect. This is important to note because to scale your business quickly, you need to spend more time prioritizing the 20% of your initiatives that produce the greatest results.
One thing you can do to free up more time is to invest in tools that help you complete the systems and processes that typically take up the other 80% of your time. Many can do this, and they primarily fall into three categories.
First, there are communication tools, such as your customer relationship management (CRM) tool, which is most commonly used to manage and distribute emails. Social media schedulers are another type of communication tool. They help free up time you spend posting content to various online platforms.
Next, there are your project management tools. These allow you to easily track the time you and your employees spend on different projects, which helps determine how much you should charge for the services you provide. If you use a calendar for block scheduling to help you maximize your time and keep track of your commitments, that’s also considered a project management tool.
Finally, there are analytical tools. Those include programs like Google Analytics which helps you determine who’s visiting your website and from where. Analytical tools give you insights into how your initiatives are working (or not working) so you can understand how to adjust your efforts as you move forward.
After you discover what tools you can use to free up some of your time, ask yourself which of those remaining systems and processes can be delegated to other people. People are an excellent resource to help you scale your business. You could hire a bookkeeper, a project manager, or an assistant. You can fill these roles in the beginning stages by outsourcing and later consider what roles are better suited to employees.
No matter what stage of business you’re in, it’s vital to actively create and protect your inner circle. Your inner circle includes anyone with whom you directly discuss your business proceedings. You still have an inner circle to protect even if you’re running a solo business and don’t have any employees. If you’re discussing your business with people who’ve never run a business of their own, odds are you’re not getting very good advice. Who are you trusting to help lead you in the right direction?
At some point in your career, you may have worked as an intern or had a mentor (or both). Those roles allowed you to interact with people who are proficient in your field and can help lead you down a path to success. Now, you could consider hiring a coach or a consultant to do the same thing. Whether you go that route or not, it’s crucial to learn from professionals who are ahead of you in your field.
You don’t want to bring people into your inner circle simply because they’re your family or friends. It’s critical to recognize that, although these people may love you and have the best intentions, their advice may not be backed by the knowledge or expertise that’s required to move your business forward.
The people you choose to share in your journey should at least (1) be able to speak to you on your level and (2) possess some wisdom that you don’t. Maybe they’re at a similar stage in their career but run a slightly different type of business. Regardless, the more people you include in your inner circle who are where you want to be, the better. It could be a CFO you ask for financial advice or a marketing expert you hire as a consultant. Just make it a point to carefully consider whom you invite into your inner circle to ensure it contains the best professionals to assist you in your current stage of business.
Your inner circle can, and should, evolve. People who were helpful when you were starting your business may not be able to help later on if you’ve surpassed them in the business world. You’ll notice other entrepreneurs changing their teams as well, and if at some point you’re excluded from someone else’s inner circle, try not to take offense. Understand that the things that get a business to point B may not be the same things that helped it get to point A. That is why you should constantly evaluate the people in your inner circle and ask yourself, “Are these individuals truly helping my business grow?”
When you started your business, you probably already had some degree of expertise that enabled you to advance up to a certain point. However, you need to continue expanding your knowledge for your business to keep growing. In other words, you must commit to being a lifelong learner.
What does being a lifelong learner look like for you? Think about your current level of expertise and begin by assessing what it is that you know you don’t know (but need to know) to scale your business. As you increase your knowledge, things that you didn’t know you need to know will be revealed. Add those to your list of what to learn next.
Read books, listen to podcasts, find courses to take, etc. Whatever you do, make sure you continue to further your education (either formally or informally) and surround yourself with people who will hold you accountable. Be willing to accept influence from others, especially those who’ve already found success doing what you aim to do. Some people will spend years trying to solve the same puzzles that you’re stuck on right now because they don’t enlist the right teachers. Maybe it won’t take you quite as long as others, but you shouldn’t expect to figure things out quickly if you’re attempting to learn entirely on your own.
The people whose podcasts you listen to or blogs you read may not be members of your inner circle, but they are members of your circle of influence. Your circle of influence includes anyone whom you allow to impact your business proceedings, either by being a member of your inner circle or by influencing your decisions from a distance. As such, everything written under the category of “people” should also be considered with developing your expertise. It’s important to be just as selective about the individuals you include in your circle of influence as you are about those you invite into your inner circle.
Seek opportunities to learn from seasoned professionals who are already at the level for which you are aiming, and don’t be afraid to invest in those opportunities. Paying to take an online master class, for example, is ultimately an investment in yourself. It’s also worth investing in training for your employees so they can be lifelong learners capable of helping scale your business to the next level.
What kind of mindset do you need to grow your business? Scaling your business requires a higher level of focus and mastery than it takes to start a business and reach a comfortable plateau. The most essential aspect of mindset is self-awareness. Are you aware of your strengths and weaknesses? Are you aware of how you need to improve to become an expert in your field? A person’s mindset is dependent on the stories they tell themselves, and these stories often get in the way of success. What are the things you repeatedly say or think about yourself? Is it that you’re terrible with new technology? Is it that you’re not great with numbers or that you can’t understand social media marketing? It’s common for people to have negative worries or thoughts about their work abilities, but when they tell themselves these stories repeatedly, they unknowingly take steps toward proving them to be true.
The intrapersonal expectancy effect is the psychological term for when a person creates an expectation about their behavior that affects their actual subsequent behavior. The person’s brain unconsciously works to make those stories true. The way to step out of this cycle is to grow one’s self-awareness by recognizing when negative stories come up and creating new stories to replace them.
Instead of thinking, “I’m not good with new technology,” think, “I’m learning about and getting better at using new technology.” Create an alternative story that is encouraging, not stifling. You need the self-awareness to recognize when these negative stories come up for you and the willingness to improve the areas in which you have room to grow.
Where there is a problem, there is also a solution — you just need to be motivated enough to find the solution and see it through. Once you figure out what stories you’re fabricating that are hindering you from scaling your business to the next level, self-awareness will allow you to transcend those stories by writing new ones and manifesting those realities.
Write down these four categories and consider what you need to do to find success with each. What tools do you require to help you expedite some of your less important tasks? Can you delegate any of those tasks? Who are the people you can trust to welcome into your inner circle and, more broadly, your circle of influence? Who are the people you need to move out of those circles? What knowledge is required to scale your business, and how will you gain that expertise? What mindset do you need to be able to scale your business to the next level? What are the stories you need to free yourself from, and what are the stories you must create to do so?
Consider what you can do to improve your business through each of these four categories. Then implement the improvements so you can scale your business further faster.