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SCALING STARTUP AND SME

We Nepalese are very good at taking that first step towards entrepreneurship that is truly extraordinary.  We start a business and small enterprises whenever given the opportunity. You have a vacant shutter at your home, you start a enterprise, very common in Nepalese Society. But, where do we fall? We don’t keep up with the flow, we don’t nourish our growing business enough, we don’t supply the right investments, we don’t follow the right structure and processes, and we don’t keep up with the latest technology. And we fail to scale. Entrepreneurship offers a special perk along with the risk, if a fixed income job holder earns certain fixed income for a year then an enterprise with zero annual revenue could be turned into a Million annual revenue company in a year. And if we fail to scale up our startup or small business, the very idea of multiplying the assets and growing income source that is expected from entrepreneurship unlike working in a 9-5 job cannot be achieved. Hence, if starting a business is important than scaling the business is even more vital.

Scaling your business is hard. It takes Considerable effort. In the beginning, it means wearing different hats. It means dealing with sales and marketing. It means understanding taxes, corporate compliance, employee training to marketing, every aspect of your business deserves attention. It involves having to interact with customers on a daily basis. And so much more. Don’t focus on the short term outcome of your work. Look to the long term. Build sincere value and look to help your customers. Genuinely care. That should be the foundation. After that, it’s simply a matter of taking action and putting in the work to scale.

The activities to be carried out in order to boost the growth rate of your start up business has been broken down into following nine points:

1.     Laying the foundation

You have to get the basics right before you build your business on it. Evaluate your current business operations and analyse the limitations of current business, how it is run, how it is managed and monitored. Understanding and validating the business concept: the market opportunity which includes critical need, target market, market size, and timing; the offering which includes product or service and value proposition; the business model which includes the resources, processes and economic model and the go-to market strategy needed to deliver the offering reliably to the target customer at a profit.

2.     Do your homework

When going to market, and you are really looking to get your offer to the masses, you need to research the competition. Look at all the analytics, stats, and accounting records that are available to you. And when possible, make projections of how you think your business will do in the future, such as sales projections. Analyse the indicators and metrics to find out if it is the right time to scale up the business. Some examples of indicators are increasing work load on the employees, unachievable long term business goals, when you have a repeatable sales model that doesn’t require immediate changes etc. Other variable to study can be demand for your product and services, financials, latest tech reforms and its implementation, customers’ expectations, right processes in right place etc.

3.     Vision, Planning and Goal Setting

A clear sense of direction and disciplined execution are essential to achieve the required level of Business. One should be clear about how he/she wants to scale up, whether it is product or services or new geographies. Have a clear business plan and strategy for at least 2 to 3 years on what the business has to achieve.

Scaling up must not only assess the scale of operations, but also the non-linear inhibitors in systems, process and skills that may hold back outcome. For the desired scale of operations, function-wise do a stretch map indicating how flexible the department’s resources i.e people, infrastructure and process are. Identify what activities can be automated, what may be bundled or outsourced. Productize the services and standardization of process would yield scalable and sustainable platforms to grow.

4.     Establishing standardized process and delegating

If you try to do everything yourself, you become burnt out. And without outside input, you might not have the necessary creativity to grow your business as well. Establishing processes and procedures that facilitate streamlined operations makes delegating tasks easier and simplifies growth of business. Standardizing the core functions helps build strong foundation and makes long term and larger business goals achievable.

You will have to take on new responsibilities that are new and stressful like increase in stakeholder’s relation with investors, board members, the press, trade unions, large customers etc. Relinquishing some aspects of control and creativity in your business and letting go of the reins and allowing more structured processes, experienced managers and documented procedures take the place of individualistic creativity can take some getting used to.

5.     Developing effective infrastructure and automate operation

Automation of repetitive tasks within a function and outsourcing of low value added activities within a function.  In its initial days, a venture is small enough that it gets by on the basis of ad hoc processes and controls. In transition, however, growth and functional specialization require the development of effective infrastructures to develop projects and manage customer relationships and finance. Startups compete not only on the basis of products or services, but on their ability to effectively deliver and support them. Automation need not be integrating electrical or mechanical system to the process laying off employees, for e.g. sending a simple welcome email after a customer register with your business can be automation.

6.     Build the right team to execute

The success of your business also depends on the quality of employees that you hire. Building an effective team is the key to ensuring that your business prospers. Focus on the right training and development plans to build the necessary skills. One of the best ways to have motivated employees who work hard is to give them a sense of purpose. They should not just feel like they have to work for the sake of working.

Scaling up may require incumbent CEO stepping aside to bring new talent. CEO’s considering scaling up must seek out external talent that would complement their skills. It also sometimes means hiring of expertise from market and cultivate internal talent in parallel.

7.     Boost Marketing

When you scale your marketing operations, your business will be able to stay lean, agile on the verge of growth. Hence, opt for scalable business marketing strategies.  An effective way to grow a business quickly is by building an email list. Similarly, Webinars are a great way to promote any product or service. Webinars provide an automated selling tool for literally taking any product or service to market and reaching a wide audience quickly.

8.     Diversify your offer line up

Look into diversifying your offers. What complementary products or services or information can you offer in your business? What else can you sell to your clients? Where else can you add value in the exchange? Analyse new opportunities in your business by understanding your demographic better. Understand everything from distribution channels to your direct competitors, and even an analysis of foreign markets and other potential industries.

9.     Form Strategic Partnerships

Taking a popular or successful product and bringing it to a company with a large footprint can help you achieve market saturation quicker.

If you have a successful business, and you’re really looking to grow quickly, consider franchising it. Although franchise costs are high and moving to a franchise model is complex and takes a lot of marketing know-how, it could make all the difference if you’re truly looking for quick growth. Always build partnerships on strength not on weakness. Each company’s goal should be to enhance something the other company does well. A good partnership is built on solid foundation and it should accelerates cash flow, increase revenue, and reduce costs.

10.  Integration: structure, process, ownership

Build systems and process that promote data driven decision making, ownership of tasks and outcomes. We know that we cannot improve something that cannot be measured. Process and procedures must be chosen for their effectiveness and ease of working.

Pursue integration of production or delivery process, conversion of “implicit knowledge to explicit knowledge” common parts and competencies approach to gain from alignment and improved valuation. Scaling up is a result of combined effort of collaborative leadership that has committed staff that can work and handle issues the keep rising at various stages.

11. Find out what works

              Aligning the individual’s role and responsibility, ownership and accountability with the intended change or outcomes is a tough task. Measurement that improves managerial effectiveness, ownership and accountability in achieving results is needed to drive a scaling up program. Life cycle approach to integrating strategy, resources, process, people and results is used in some companies. A logical relationship between inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes and impact is also used. Inputs could be financial, manpower, plant, partnerships, etc. that are required to conduct business activities.  Activities would be promotional programs, creation of new sales teams, partner programs structures or marketing events which result in short term results. These short term results are known as outputs. Outcomes are midterm results that indicate the scale of achievement. Impact is what the company wants to achieve by undertaking the change. Ultimately, you will know which of the approaches you’ve used worked well. Take note of these tactics and use them again. Those strategies that failed must be eliminated to help your business move forward. The goal is to remain relevant. Refine the approach and focus more on those that bring satisfactory results.

In a nutshell, growing a startup business is not an easy task and requires a massive transformation especially for businessmen of Nepal who are pretty good at starting a micro enterprise but fail at scaling it. Scaling your business is about thinking big, planning, taking that calculated risk.

Automating your sales process, delegating responsibilities and outsourcing much more to achieve more in limited time. More often than not, hiring right employees and improving customer service contributes in a rapid growth of any organization. In order to attract new customers and keep the existing customers locked in you need to find ways to add value to your business, build customer loyalty program. Finally, networking with as many people as possible and forming strategic partnerships rather than being over protective makes a win-win situation.

References

  1. Mohan, Dr TR Madan “Scaling up Business to next level” 2016
  • Lyon, Fergus, and Heather Fernandez. “Strategies for scaling up social enterprise: Lessons from early years providers” Social Enterprise Journal 8.1 (2012)
  • Picken, Joseph C. “From startup to scalable enterprise: Laying the Foundation” Business Horizons (2017)
  • Stampfl, Georg and Prugl, Reinhard. “An Explorative model of Business Model Scalability” International Journal of Product Development (2013)
  • “The Business Owners Guide to Scaling up Successfully” Pay4.com
  • Machado, Hilka Pelizza Vier. “Growth of small businesses: A literature review and perspectives of studies” (2016)
  • Sajid, Arsalan. “Scaling a Business: Best Strategies to use and Mistakes to Avoid” (2020)
  • Johnson, Kevin D. “The Entrepreneur Mindset” (2016)

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