The 17 Most Misunderstood Facts About Scaling
Most businesses will need to consider scaling at some point. When they have a product that is selling well or shows promise in the marketplace. There will need to be an assessment of the company and whether it can meet the demands of the product. However, there can often be misconceptions about what scaling can do and how to implement it correctly. Here are 17 of the most misunderstood facts about scaling and how to do it in the right way.
1. Confusing Scaling with Growth
When a product starts to sell with increasing numbers, many companies will think about growing their business as a result. However, while growth is a good thing, it shouldn’t be confused with scaling the business. Adding more staff to teams producing the products is far better than trying to expand. You want to be able to meet the demand from sales, without causing problems for your workforce.
2. Be Honest with Clients
One of the most common reasons for scaling issues is trying to meet unrealistic demands from clients. You may feel that you don’t want to disappoint your best client by telling them you need time…so instead, you try to push your staff to complete it in a short timeframe. While this may please your client, it will frustrate your staff and lead to poorer quality.
3. Planning is Everything
Scaling your teams to work better and produce more, can be incredibly effective…if done in the right way. The best way to achieve this, is by creating a plan that you can set milestones to and monitor. Try to include all the elements that will make the process work and ensure there are enough reviews along the way to ensure it’s working.
4. Have Clear Goals
While it may sound obvious that teams should have clear goals that they can work towards, many companies don’t make them clear enough. You need to ensure that every member of the team knows what their responsibilities are and where their work will ultimately lead. If anyone is unsure, then clarification is needed as soon as possible.
5. Communication is Key
Points 3 and 4 rely heavily on effective communication, so that part of the process needs to be efficient and reliable. When you are upscaling, there may be concerns with how the team will communicate…especially if they are in different locations. This is why it is vital to set up a way of communicating, that will be quick and responsive to everyone. As a business owner, you should also have a way of communicating with the team and set up regular reviews, to see how effective it is.
6. Regular Measurement of Changes
Not all the systems you put in place will have a positive effect on the teams. You need to be able to measure what impact each change has had and by how much, so that alterations can be made quickly. For example, has the addition of more people to the team caused less focus on the goals? Has the demand reached a point where there is too much of a workload on the team and causing the quality to suffer?
7. Keep Skill Levels High
Adding more people to a team may sound like a good idea, but the people you add must have the skills needed to make an effective contribution. Not every member of the team will need the same skills. So try to match jobs to workers that you can maintain the quality of the product throughout. Your data should also show where skills are lacking, so you can bring them into the team.
8. Ensure There are Adequate Resources
You cannot expect your teams to do a good job if they don’t have the resources to meet their needs. Depending on the product, these needs will vary. Try to think about the best use of resources, to match each role. Can some people work from home? Will you need to hire office space? Can you source enough materials to meet the growing demand?
9. Avoid Premature Scaling
Some small businesses or startups will try to scale their companies just after a product has launched, because they think that sales will rise. While this may work in some situations, this type of premature scaling can have a negative effect. If the product takes time to grow its sales, you could find that you are losing money in the meantime.
10. Avoid Scaling Too Much
Managers may have the idea that the more people and the more teams they have working on a product, the more they can deliver. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Because once the numbers of people reach a certain level, the throughput will start to plateau and then eventually decrease. The number of people on your teams will depend on the product and its complexity. However, throughput should be monitored so that it’s maintained at its highest level.
11. Don’t be Afraid to Learn from Others
Many companies have been down the scaling path and not all of them have been a success. However, this means there is a lot of experience out there that you can tap into. Ask fellow business colleagues if they have scaled their companies and what they learned from it. Look at your competitors and see what they did and if it worked or not.
12. Keep Your Business Values
When your company is growing fast and upscaling to meet demand, it can be easy to let the core values of your business get pushed aside. It is important that you know this may happen, and prepare for it. Your business values are what made you a success, so you want to keep them front and center.
13. Consider Outsourcing if Needed
Hopefully, you will be able to find all the skills you need from your workforce, or by recruiting new staff. There may be times, however, when a certain part of the process will need help from a specialist, that you don’t have in-house. If this is the case, don’t be afraid to outsource this task to another company, as it will take the pressure off your teams and maintain the quality.
14. Have the Funding Available
Funding is always a big issue for companies, especially new startups. But there needs to be a plan in place, to ensure you have the funding available when upscaling is required. One way to do this is to present investors with data showing how popular the product is and the attention it is getting. This will lower the risk in their eyes and may induce them to fund your upscale.
15. Maintain High Quality
When growth is happening fast and you are focusing on getting the product to customers, there can be an inevitable drop in quality. While you might think this can’t be avoided, it should be made a priority, to maintain the high quality you began with. Customers will soon notice any changes and this will tarnish your company’s reputation.
16. Use Incentives Wisely
One way that you can help drive your teams is through the use of incentives. It should be noted that while they can help to motivate your staff, putting them in the wrong place could mean a lowering of the quality. For example, adding an incentive to the number of completed tasks each day, may mean workers cut corners, to achieve higher figures.
17. Scaling Goes Up and Down
Scaling in a business doesn’t always mean adding more teams or people to a product. It also means scaling down to become more efficient and cost-effective. You may find that a product will go through upscaling and downscaling through the course of its lifecycle and you need to be prepared for both.
With these facts at your disposal, you can create an effective and adaptable scaling plan for your business.
By Dan Wheatley, Co-Founder
CEO/Co-Founder of Straight Talk Consulting, a business consultancy that gets our hands dirty. We work with organisations to achieve product market fit before transitioning into scalable and repeatable growth