Building a business from the ground up is a rewarding, yet challenging task.
For many solopreneurs trying to handle everything on their own, a common concern is when (or even if) they should scale. First off, “scaling” in the traditional corporate sense — hiring a bunch of employees so you can expand your operations — isn’t for everyone.
Though scaling is never free, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to grow your business. In fact, smart scaling can help you keep your operations lean while still becoming even more profitable by working with higher-value clients. Of course, understanding when the time is right to scale is a key part of pulling off this important transition.
1. Positive Cash Flow Isn’t A Concern Of Yours
This should be a “duh” moment for any business, but it’s often not. Positive cash flow is often one of the biggest indicators that you are in a position to scale. Positive cash flow refers to how much money is currently going into your business’s bank account. That doesn’t count pending payments, either — only the money that is actually present in your accounts.
No matter what you have planned, it takes money to scale. Depending on the scope of your scaling, it may even require more money than you have coming in — at least initially.
In a recent phone conversation, Costas Polycarpou, founder of Polyteck explained, “The importance of positive cash flow cannot be understated. But business owners need to remember that it is as much about what is going out as it is about what is coming in. Take a closer look at the payments you are making to keep your business running — from contractors to utilities and maintenance. Finding ways to reduce spending could be even more important for your cash flow than acquiring new customers.”
2. You’re Actually Saying ‘No’ To Clients
You only have so many hours in a day — and if your business is ready to scale, you may find yourself getting picky with clients as a result. Whether it’s because you don’t have enough time to take on an extra project or you don’t have the personnel to support you, you may find yourself saying “no” more often than you’d expect. In fact, you might be telling people no several times a week.
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Scale-ready business owners won’t just say this to lower-paying clients, either. Those clients that don’t quite “fit the bill” or seem like they’d be annoying to work with? Yeah, you’ll say no to them, too. Life’s too short to work with people who are a total pain.
Again, you’re picky because you can be. You’re not so desperate for work that you’ll take on any client imaginable. But if you’re ready to scale, you may feel like saying “no” is resulting in a few missed opportunities … and something’s got to give.
Finding a way to scale your business will be key to ensuring you can take on those new, exciting clients you want to work with without giving your most loyal customers the boot.
3. Delegation Is Practically A Second Sense Of Yours
A scale-centric business is only as strong as its processes and operations. If you’re saying “no” to potential clients because you don’t have the bandwidth to fit them into your weekly schedule, that means it’s time to delegate some of these processes to someone else.
Entrepreneurs who are ready to scale have their processes and operations down to a science. This makes them confident in their ability to delegate, because they know they can pass off these operations to a qualified contractor or freelancer and there won’t be any confusion about what needs to be done.
Maybe you’ve already dabbled a little bit in delegating to free up your schedule. After all, when other people are taking care of the minutiae, you can focus on the work that you find most engaging and that helps you grow your revenue.
Quite simply, if you’re confident in your ability to delegate some of your work, then you’ve got the green light to start scaling. And you’ve had it for a good while already. After all, as you scale your operations, you’ll have to delegate even more. If you can trust that things will turn out well even when you aren’t directly involved in everything, then you can scale successfully.
The First Step? Pull A Page From Tim Ferris’ Book…
If someone else has a great idea, you should never ignore it — and Tim Ferris’s advice to begin with the end game is a must-follow guideline for any business owner hoping to scale.
Your decision to scale — including when and how you do it — has to be done with the ultimate goal for your business in mind. What do you hope to achieve with your business in the long run? What do you want your day to day work routine to look like?
Once you know your intended destination, you’ll be able to pull off the planning necessary to get there. You will scale (or not scale) with the big picture as your guide. This macro approach will help you know whether scaling is a good idea for your personal brand.