Are you ready to scale-up your startup?

14 Jan 2016

Once your startup is showing signs of success, scalability is the next thing that you should be looking at to grow your business. A scalable business is one that can take on a larger amount of business without compromising on performance or losing revenue. However, not all startups are prepared to scale up.

In simple terms, being ready to scale means that your business has the potential to multiply revenue with minimal incremental cost. Your startup is “ready to scale” is when you have a proven product and a proven business model, and are about to expand to new geographies and markets. In this article, we will look at a checklist to help you to prepare for scaling up your startup.

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  1. Vision

You should have a clear vision for the near future of your startup. Consider how your product or service will be relevant over the next five years and have it mapped down in a concrete plan with achievable targets. Without this vision, your startup will not be able to adapt to current trends.

  1. Keep a hawk’s eye view on metrics

Use SMART goals to measure your startup’s growth. Measure your growth regularly to keep track of your progress. Measuring your growth will help you understand whether your metrics align with your vision or not. SMART is an acronym for:

  • Specific – target a specific area for improvement
  • Measurable – quantify or suggest an indicator of progress
  • Attainable – assuring that an end can be achieved
  • Relevant – is the right goal at the right time for you
  • Time-related – specify when the results can be achieved
  1. Focus on the fundamentals

Often startups fail because of premature scaling. Make sure you have attained product market fit. You can make gradual improvements through product iterations based on customer feedback. Know who your core users are and the biggest marketing channels.

  1. Use a minimum viable product (MVP) to validate the model.

No startup, even with a large (potential) opportunity, is ready to scale until you can show it working, with multiple customers willing to pay and paying the full price to validate the business model. Go through multiple iterations with real customers, and use their feedback, before you ask for investor money to scale

  1. Solid business plan

Make sure the reason for your startup failure is not due to poor planning. You need to develop a solid business plan that demonstrates your goals. Read our guide to drafting a business plan. It is important to develop a business plan that will attract future investors. Read our guide to what investors look for before investing. Have the metrics place for how you plan to use the funding. Make sure you have the resources to scale. See if you need to seek an additional round of funding. Running out of money while scaling will be very detrimental to your startup.

  1. Automate

A startup that is labor intensive and staff intensive is usually not scalable. Start looking right away at the early stage at production automation, proven process technologies, and minimum staff approaches, before you begin scaling.

  1. Outsource non-essential work & hire only if necessary

A big corporation can afford to have in house designers, lawyers, growth hackers etc. As a startup, you might not have that luxury. Hence it is important to outsource all non-essential roles. It is crucial that you focus on your core competencies to take the lean approach to scale up. Hire only if necessary and only hire the right people. At this point, you should be working “on” your business and not “in” your business. A business‘s scalability to a certain extent also depends on your team. Hire only the people who are necessary to the operations. Rest all can be outsourced.

  1. Continually work on improving your business

Even though there are a lot of factors out of your control, like the economy, if you and your startup are not flexible enough to respond to new trends and market demands, you will not be able to scale. Be willing to redesign or pivot. Innovation is usually how quickly you can redesign or pivot in order to be able to scale up. Create a strategy that focuses on continuous innovation and makes an effort to plan ahead for the future. This will help you continuously improve as a business.

With the above tips, you will be able to maintain scalability and be prepared for the challenges that your startup will face while scaling. Scalability is as much your determination as the founder, as much as it is about having the right systems, processes, people, and business plans.

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