Playing The Long Game: How To Take A Business From Zero To Ten Taking your business from relative infancy to a coveted ten-figure mark is a challenging yet rewarding journey. It's time to double down on what is working, while continuously iterating on your strategies in order to scale.
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Congratulations, you've built a business– you've now taken your company from zero to one! Popularized by entrepreneur, investor, and bestselling author Peter Thiel, this is the notion of launching your startup and having a bona fide business. You've made sales, you've hired your first employee, and you've created a product that works. Simply put, you've proven that your idea is actually good.
But whilst you've inevitably navigated hurdles (and most likely hit the "reset" button multiple times), how do you now take your business to the next stage? How do you take your business from zero to ten? Meaning, how do you scale your business? How can you grow it quickly and sustainably so that it's set up for long-term success?
Taking your business from relative infancy to a coveted ten-figure mark is a challenging yet rewarding journey. It's time to double down on what is working, while continuously iterating on your strategies in order to scale. Importantly, make sure you keep your focus; you are far from being there yet!
Here are four things you must do to take your business to the next level:
1. Build a strong team
Just as your company grows, so should your people. With your team being the backbone of your business, you need to keep recruiting individuals with diverse skillsets who share your passion and vision. Prepare, structure, and be ready to invest and empower your people. The age-old saying of recruiting people smarter than you rings true here- plus, hire those who complement your skillsets. It's no good having ten people who think the same as you if you want to scale fast. Sure, you need people who are aligned to your company vision, but you need those who bring something new and dynamic to your scaleup, so that they bridge the gaps that you have in knowledge.
So, it's now time to focus on people who have the motivation to "scale" and "grow" with you. But what do you look for during the hiring process? For starters, have they run a scaleup before? And importantly, have they enjoyed the challenge? This will help you determine whether they have the same mindset and drive as you. But also hire "motivated" experts. There's often the temptation to tap into talent who come from big organizations and global brands, as they must be "good" if they've worked for such prestigious businesses. However, this does not necessarily have to be true- they may just have been managers of other people who are doing the hard work.
So, if you're going down this route, make sure you hire someone who was with a business in its early days, and who was part of their scaleup story- they'll then bring that knowledge with them if you hire them. At the end of the day, remember that your gut instinct is always good to follow- so, make it a point to assess their personal motivation to come back to work at a scaleup. Ideally, hire people who have been at your stage -and mastered it- recently. Note that this won't be a comfortable move- there will be a lot of ups and downs and uncertainty, so ensure that you have the right person who's up for the task, and don't fall into the trap of hiring too many people too fast.
2. Focus on scaling your main sales channel
You likely started your business by testing out multiple sales channels, running "experiments" to see what performs the best. But once you've identified these, the key is to double down on the most successful sales channels. Then, keep a laser focus on growing and strengthening these, making what was a small experiment at the beginning become a large sales channel.
Nevertheless, you are currently not at the scale where you can sustain the successful running of too many sales channels simultaneously. Doing so would be a distraction that would result in failure in all of them. In this case, the "less is more" approach is needed to become really big. Always be mindful of the size of your market; it's always bigger than you think it is. So, it's important that your sales channels and products link to each other.
3. Continue learning from your customers
Knowing your customer inside out is key to scaling fast. Understanding what drives them -their nuances and needs- will help you evolve your product, so that you're catering to their demand. Just as your customer scales, so should you. In the scaleup phase, you will quickly move away from the direct one-to-one contact with the customer you previously had, where you heard their feedback, their story, and took this on board for your future development.
Now, you will need to have an infrastructure in place that will provide you with a broader visibility over the customer base you have, the use cases, the journeys, and the customer troubles. Preparing this infrastructure, and switching from a "storytelling" mentality to an "event-driven or data-driven" mentality is easier said than done, and it is often forgotten about. But a whole host of data is needed here. This will include key demographics, buying behaviors, how they interact with your product, and more.
Armed with this info, you can develop a close connection with customers, personalize their experience with your company, and send the message that you're invested in their success.
4. Establish strategic partnerships
Partnerships are a great source of testing ideas and validating them. They provide an external and mature perspective that helps you grow, learn to size the opportunities, and decide whether it is the right time or not to take them. On the flip side, partners can also be a big source of distraction- hence, you need to be very aware when embarking on such a journey.
Deciding on the right partnership is also about finding those with a similar mindset as you. Plus, you need to have a clear sight on the benefits it will bring to your customers. For example, at my company, Pemo, our partnership with Mastercard was a good fit, because it aligned with our vision of helping SMEs to grow. Through this partnership, we were able to strengthen our offering to our customers, bringing them wider discounts and offers on services such as Google Ads, DocuSign, and flexible workspaces, for instance.
Many of us have big dreams about where our company will go, and how we'll get there, but it can also feel like using a map with no starting point. It's crucial not to lose sight of your company vision, in search of quick wins to satisfy investors. There's no need to try to be everything to everyone; this will just see you attract the wrong type of business that may see you become stretched too thin to be able to deliver. Now is the time to retain focus, and ensure that you have the right mindset and tools to serve your customers. Whilst scaling a business can be a daunting task for any entrepreneur, this is an exciting juncture, and keeping the aforementioned principles in mind will provide a recipe for success.