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Scaling Up Your Business: Preparing Your Enterprise for Growth
Believing things are staying as they are is either naive or delusional (depending on how blunt you want to be). Your business is not staying in place; it’s either going up or down, and it’s up to you to prepare for both outcomes. This is where scalability comes in. You need to be able to upscale and downscale your business to catch up with growth, use a great opportunity, or survive a particularly rough patch in the market. With that in mind, here are five tips to help you prepare your enterprise for whatever lies ahead.
1. Flexible Workforce
There are many reasons why a flexible workforce is so scalable. You see, when you think of scalability, the first instinct is to think about scaling up. After all, this is the positivity bias speaking. As humans, we’re more likely to believe that good things will happen. However, what if you have to scale down?
Workload fluctuates over the year. When you’re in a small business for a few years, this will become abundantly clear, but it will be hard to recognize these patterns if it’s your first year in business. To you, every increase in activity will be seen as “your big breakthrough,” which shouldn’t be a problem, but many entrepreneurs in these scenarios overinvest and overhire.
So, what happens in two months when it turns out that this increase in workflow was just a temporary fluke? Do you let all of these people go?
Instead, you can hire freelancers and independent contractors. This way, you get a more flexible workforce on your side. You can terminate collaboration without much trouble, and since they know it’s a temporary deal, it will be much easier to do this tactfully.
Also, if they are good enough, no one prevents you from hiring some of these freelancers full-time. Think of it as a type of trial period.
2. Collaboration Tool
When you have a two-person crew, you can handle your entire operation through Dropbox and DM correspondence. For task and project management, you can use Sheets, and you don’t even need a conferencing tool; you can just video call them through Viber.
The problem is that it will be much harder to keep track of all these things when your business grows. There are so many tasks, deadlines, and projects, and everyone is making changes. You need a tool to help you manage these projects and tasks, control access to various parts of the project, and handle version control. This way, you’re keeping the security issue in check without slowing down the process.
This is also the most efficient way of handling these things. Just think about it: with the help of tools to help you manage your projects, you can make missing a deadline (by accident) incredibly difficult. The task status is color-coded, and there’s usually an avatar of people who are on the task.
While each collaboration tool differs, all the major ones share a few simple features. They’re great for data sharing, scheduling, and communication. They archive completed tasks and make all this data available on demand.
When your business grows, you’ll be tempted to start your own departments. Sure, you’ll first have a few people in your employ, and they’ll all be on core tasks. No one hires an HR person when they have four employees. However, this may become a good choice when your business outgrows a certain number of employees.
The problem is that hiring a single person or hiring a department complicates things from an administrative standpoint. It’s also expensive, time-consuming, and creates many other complications.
This is why outsourcing is more scalable.
First, you don’t have to hire experts in a field you know nothing about. If you know nothing about IT, customer support, or HR, it won’t be that hard for an eloquent applicant to convince you that they’re far better than they are. When outsourcing, you don’t have to hire, buy new equipment, set up a new workstation, or wait for the person in question to get enough experience so that they’re productive.
When hiring an agency, you always have the potential to upscale. Their workforce usually exceeds your needs, and they’re only assigning enough agents to handle your current needs. If your business grows, you can request they assign more people. Sometimes, you don’t even have to make a request (it could be automatic).
4. Task Delegation
Delegating tasks is the most important tip for anyone looking to achieve more in less time. The thing is that while micromanaging everything is comforting and lets you stay in control, it’s also incredibly taxing and exhausting, and it sends the wrong message.
First, it shows your staff members that you don’t trust them. This already erodes their confidence. Then, it gives them a horrible idea that you’re always there to fix their mistakes. This prevents them from thinking for themselves since if you’re always there as a safety net, there’s nothing that they can do wrong. So, when delegating, make sure that you give them more autonomy and more responsibility. Only this way will they grow as professionals.
Then, bear in mind that micromanaging only works when the business is very small. Once it grows, you’ll be physically unable to keep your eye on everything. You won’t have enough hours in the day and can’t be everywhere simultaneously. So, why not nurture a culture without micromanaging from the very start?
Ultimately, this is one of the reasons why people get partners. It’s not just about the money. It’s about sharing responsibility with someone with as much skin in the game as you do. Sure, there are loyal employees, but they will never care as much as you do.
5. Remote Work
Remote work is incredibly scalable. First, it reduces the risk that your business will ever outgrow your current premises. Previously, we’ve discussed the importance of getting a collaboration tool, but we’ve failed to mention that this collaboration tool is your office (in a digital world).
To introduce more people to your workplace, you only need to give them access to your collaboration platform. You don’t have to squeeze in a new desk, get a new computer, or consider where you will fit all these people.
You would never have to worry about the physical space if you needed to hire a new person or 100 more employees. The rent for a place that can fit 15 workstations and for a place that can be home to 100 employees is not the same. Neither are the utility bills, and the costs for furnishing and hardware expenses are even higher.
Sure, some might worry about cybersecurity, but a BYOD policy is in place in most offices. In other words, the risk is already there, and its scope is terribly blown out of proportion.
Prepare Your Business for the Future, Whatever This Future Holds
You never know if the change will be good or bad. Sure, you can take action to ensure a bright future for your business, but there are only so many things that you can control. However, with the right organization, you can improve a good situation and a bad situation. This is what scalability is all about. As Seneca, one of the fathers of stoicism, once said – luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Ensure that your business is ready for this opportunity.