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Business scaling is critical to the success of an enterprise. It is the process of building the business so it is not dependent on any one person or concept. That is, avoiding a bottleneck and enabling exponential growth.
Yet, over and over, I see entrepreneurs getting stuck in their businesses. We start our businesses with a vision and then get lost in the day-to-day minutiae. Eventually, one’s mind gets trained to focus on these pressing needs, forgetting how to float back up to the 50,000-foot overview of the business’ direction and goals. So often it is only at times like New Year’s Eve that one pauses to reflect, losing out on a previous year’s time.
Unfortunately, there are several myths floating around in the business world that reinforce this behavior. Here are the five biggest mistakes and false beliefs that keep entrepreneurs in this exhausting cycle.
- Scaling is only for startups or six-figure-plus businesses
- I’m the only one who can do what I do
- Scaling is expensive
- To scale I must hire
- To succeed in business I must hustle / run around like a chicken without a head
Let’s dig in to these and discover how to break through and grow your business.
Scaling equals marketing and acquisitions
I hear this one a lot. In fact, I often get approached to scale marketing tactics for small businesses that want to break six or seven figures. If this is the version of scaling you’re familiar with, it’s time to put on the brakes.
Increasing customer acquisition when you haven’t scaled your operations will make you drown. It’s called “catastrophic growth” and I watched it happen to a client. Luckily, we were able to swim upstream to get ahead of the torrent of new customers, but her business nearly went belly-up.
Here’s the question to ask yourself: if I sent you ten new premium clients TODAY and you had to onboard them all at once, would you be able to do it? I’ve had clients tell me they would run away if that happened to them. If you can’t handle a sudden influx of sales, you’re not ready to scale your marketing, and we have work to do.
Scaling is only or startups or six-figure-plus businesses
Startup culture is very familiar with scaling. In fact, it is critical for a startup to scale quickly in order to get the attention of and fulfill commitments to investors. This driving force in startup culture is likely the reason that small businesses don’t believe scaling is for them. While most early phase startups receive investments, most early phase small businesses do not. If the idea of scaling is tied to conversations about investors, it is clear that the concept would skip over small business owners.
Yet, any business can scale. If the core concept of business scaling is to simply get out of your own way, then scaling any business becomes possible (even coaching businesses!). The biggest roadblock for small business owners at this point isn’t whether or not one can scale, but that they are the only person who can do what they do, which leads directly into our next point.
I’m the only one that can do what I do
Many business owners have “special snowflake syndrome.” This comes out of the determination needed to become successful as a business leader. One must believe in themselves fundamentally in order to weather the stresses inherent in business leadership.
However, that determination eventually runs its course and must be put aside in order to scale. I believed for a long time that I was the only online marketer with an Anthropology background, that only I could see into target markets in the way I did. This launched my business to early success, then held it back for two years. It wasn’t until I stepped back from that belief and discovered that others in the field had their own unique strengths that I could let the business grow once more. I eventually hired a developer that was better than I which took the company to new heights. All I had to do was get out of my own way.
Scaling is expensive
This myth is the exact opposite of the truth. NOT scaling is expensive. To not scale means giving up thousands in potential revenue, hours of your time spent on non-optimized tasks, and the stress of the hamster wheel. Luckily, today’s business leaders have access to myriad free tools online that can begin the scaling process without spending a dime. Review your tasks and consider how much time (and thus money) they take. Could tech do it faster, better, and cheaper?
To scale I must hire
I realize that, according to the path I took, it sounds like one must hire in order to scale. Not true! My trademark Three Pillars of Business Scaling™ starts business leaders scaling WAY before hiring occurs. In fact, some businesses never have to hire! The foundation of scaling is getting out of your own way. Getting your finite time and energy out of the business so it can grow exponentially. Technology is a great resource for this. If you have any recurring tasks in your business, look at them carefully. Why are you still involved, and how can you get yourself out of them?
To succeed, I must hustle
If you are following me on Facebook you will have noticed several recent posts from the likes of Entrepreneur and Forbes business magazines that state just the opposite. In fact, if you are hustling, there is likely something broken in your business. Let me be clear, there is a difference between a hard push to roll out a new product or pivot the business and an ongoing grind. A business pivot uses finite focused time. If you find yourself regularly working eighty hours a week without making ends meet, it’s time to examine what is happening for your business.
I was able to get my hours down to ten per week before I sold my tech company, whereas previous to scaling I was working 70 hours a week. This is a stark contrast that should tell you loud and clear that an ongoing hustle is like being a rocket stuck in Earth’s gravitational pull — you’ve got to get out of the atmosphere so you can turn those burners off! Otherwise, you’ll burn out. No one can push that hard forever, so if you’re feeling exhausted, let’s schedule a call to get clear on what you need to do to pivot.