3 Basics for Scaling Your Business Growing a business once it has proved viable places entirely different demands on an entrepreneur and requires specific skills.
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To make 2016 your best year yet, I have three areas of study you'll want to focus on. A word of warning, though: When you focus on these areas in your business and gain competency with the skills you learn (hint: you need more skills than just marketing to scale up), you will start to see amazing things happen. So be prepared for change!
1. Hiring people (and the right people, at that).
No business can scale up to $5 million or $10 million without hiring talent in some capacity. I know that even mentioning the word "employees" can leave a bad taste for some business owners, because all they see is the annual salary being shoveled out of their accounts or the petty squabbles in the break room.
Let me be honest with you -- at times, it is difficult to have such a large team. But I know of very few areas in business that are easy. Dealing with difficulty is why you make the big bucks. If you feel that no one can do it as good as you, or you always seem to end up with a bad team, I have some hard, no BS truth for you: It's not the employees. It's your leadership skills. Learn to hire the support you need so you can actively work toward achieving your business goals.
Related: Everything You Need to Know About Hiring a Freelancer
2. Utilizing systems and processes to be successful.
The two main reasons entrepreneurs have a difficult time managing people is a lack of leadership skills (as we discussed above) and a lack of systems. Once you have a solid team in place, you have to make sure they have the tools they need to get the job done.
It is nearly impossible for someone to be a good employee when all the info on how they should do their job is locked in your head, so you must have a system in place to communicate your ideas, needs, and goals. Also, not having processes in place to facilitate workflow is like turning on a fire hydrant without connecting the hose — no one knows what's going on and all you end up with is a big mess.
So set your business up for success from the inside: create systems for conveying ideas, and develop processes for making them a reality. Your team will thank you.
3. Investing in customer retention.
Dan S. Kennedy and I co-authored The No B.S. Guide to Maximum Referrals and Customer Retention (Entrepreneur Press, March 2016) to address this key point. In summary, this book is all about adopting a new approach to your marketing strategy by leveraging the influence of the customers you already have.
Have you ever attended one of Dan's events and seen him go around the room, asking people to raise their hands if they have been with him for five years, 10 years, or even 20 years? How much money do you think a guy spends when he's been a member of Dan's mentorship program for 20 years? What is this longevity worth? I can't speak for anyone else, but as someone who is approaching 20 years with Dan, I can tell you I'm in it for a grand total of around $200,000.
If your plan is growth, it must include an investment in retention. If you don't focus on this area of your business, you will most definitely be leaving money on the table.
Related: Customer Retention Is No Accident -- How Small Business Can Get It Right
If you are an existing business with steady revenue and a small team, it may be difficult to know where to start, so let me point you in the right direction. First, keep all your existing marketing going; just hold off from adding anything new for a short while so that you can ensure you have the team to support your new initiatives and elevated marketing campaigns. Second, you need to set in place your day-to-day systems so that you can take some pressure off of yourself and other key team members (and avoid the mess of a loose fire hydrant). Third, you need to plug the holes in your leaky customer bucket and spend some time on customer retention.
Once you've gained a solid hold on the three areas I mentioned (your team, your processes, and your current customers), you'll be ready to develop and implement new marketing systems and watch 2016 scale up to be your best year yet.