Scaling your business is always difficult, and when you throw in the complexities of our current environment, the likelihood of missing your targets grows exponentially. Here are some steps to scale a business of any size successfully.
Know Your Market
You would think this one would be easy, but it’s unbelievable how many companies may understand what business they are in but do not take the time to analyze their competition. I’ve heard executives from both large and small businesses say, “We do not have any competition.” Everyone has competition. Even in the early days at Uber, before Lyft, Uber’s competitor was traditional transportation: taxies, trains, car rental services, walking. Having an open mindset and understanding all your customers’ options is a crucial ingredient of winning.
Who Are Your Customers And What Problem Are You Solving?
So you have a great product, and you understand what market you are in, but that is only the beginning. To scale your business, you need to take a step back and thoroughly understand who your customers are and what problems you are solving for them. Take the time to understand your target audience and build your customer, buyer, audience or marketing personas. To construct the persona correctly, you will need to describe these personas’ exact details, down to their names, where they live, their interests, their jobs, how much money they make and how they spend their money. Once you have taken the time to identify to whom you are selling, you can then incorporate the problems you solve for each customer.
What Is Your Unique Competitive Advantage?
Understanding your market, your customers and the problems you are solving is a huge first step. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning. You now have the basics of analyzing and understanding why your customers will choose you rather than their other options. You can take each of your personas and understand why they would choose your product or service versus your competition. Taking the time to define your unique competitive advantage will enable you to better focus your marketing and product development efforts. Most companies fail here by taking their standard benefits and pitching them as unique. You must challenge your team to articulate what advantages you have that are unique to your company.
Build The Best Team
Everyone wants the best team, but it’s much more complicated than what even Jim Collins describes in his legendary book, Good To Great: “If we get the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus, then we’ll figure out how to take it someplace great.” There have been many books written about Jim’s seemingly simple advice, and I’ve spent the last 20-plus years studying how to do this at scale across global organizations.
For your current employees, you want to track what they accomplish and their attitude along the way. When you hire, the key is understanding what the candidate accomplished when they had the least amount of resources and were in the most challenging situations. Many managers make the easy mistake of hiring “the perfect candidate” but fail to evaluate what made them successful in that specific role. To find the best, you must dig down to understand how people perform in the most challenging situations.
Align Goals Across Your Organization
Aligning goals is much more than creating SMART goals. To align goals, you must ruthlessly prioritize resources across your organization to focus on the specific goals that will drive success. It’s best to have executives create these priorities when the corporate plans and budgets are set and then communicate through the organization. I’ve seen many companies fail to hit their goals because they try to accomplish too many things at once. Teams naturally add tasks to their lists. The hard part is prioritizing to put the needed resources behind the activities that will deliver the best results.
Track Key Metrics
When tracking metrics, you need to analyze your key metrics and not get bogged down in “analysis paralysis” of all your metrics. It’s essential to have the detailed data you can drill into, but you want to focus on the metrics that are the best leading indicators for actual results. You also want to make sure the data you are tracking is accurate. Following the flow of data to the source is key to ensuring that you can trust your data.
As you analyze your data, you can only do so much analysis on a snapshot of data, even week over week or the same period last year. You will need to track the historical performance over time and understand why the numbers go up or down. I like to compare the analysis over time to watching a movie versus looking at a picture. Having the historical numbers over time, like a movie, gives you more in-depth insight into what is working versus what is not working.
Celebrate Your Wins
Like my grandfather Col. Red Reeder always told me, “The right decisions are usually the hard decisions.” Building a business is never easy. You have to break from the status quo, question everything, ruthlessly prioritize and then execute. I’m not just saying work smarter, not harder. I’m saying work smarter so you see results. That success will energize you and your team to work harder on the things that make the most difference. And the key to making sure you can consistently deliver is to take the time to celebrate your wins and enjoy your journey — because your journey is your destination.