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I Started Over 300 Companies. Here Are 4 Things I Learned About Scaling a Business. It takes a delicate balance of skill, hard work and instinct to grow a successful business. This serial entrepreneur loves the unique challenge; here are the key lessons she's learned along the way.

By Dr. Christina Rahm Edited by Maria Bailey

Key Takeaways

  • 1. Business success is only possible with passion
  • 2. Your mission, vision and value statements are more important than a business plan
  • 3. Hiring is essential to scaling a business — so take it seriously
  • 4. Incentivize for good performances and good attitudes

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Starting a business requires a delicate balance of risk, passion, intel, research and confidence in yourself. You have to trust your instinct — and rest on the hard work you've done to prepare for business growth. You also have to weigh potential risks against the confidence and belief that you have what it takes to succeed. I know this dance well; I've started over 300 businesses.

I believe business development is my greatest strength. Building businesses is the outlet for my many interests, from humanitarianism to scientific research and design. I've always enjoyed the unique challenges of business leadership, defining a company's "why" and navigating the choppy waters as a company takes off and grows. It's not for everyone, but it's definitely for me. Business ownership is how I do my part to improve the world around me.

With so many businesses under my belt, I've learned much about scaling companies. Here are my top four tips for successful business growth.

Related: 7 Strategies to Scale Your Small Business and Achieve Sustainable Growth

Every business is unique, and learning what works will require trial and error. For every win I've experienced, there's been at least one failure. Every loss is an excellent opportunity to learn — so trust me when I say I've learned a lot.

1. Business success is only possible with passion

My businesses continue to grow because my passion for my work has never faltered. Success is rooted in an insatiable desire to make your dreams come true through every hardship and failure you encounter.

I am passionate about producing products that meet the needs of its customers while also contributing to the greater good. That means creating products that support the health of individuals, animals, and the earth, with environmental attention also paid to land, air, and water conservation. And that means creating sustainable solutions that challenge the status quo scientifically and artistically. This is my calling, which drives me to work hard every day.

No successful entrepreneur can stand behind a business they have no passion for. Having the numbers to prove your dream can reap actual monetary value is one thing. But before that, when it's just you against the world, passion is a vital life source for staying afloat.

2. Your mission, vision and value statements are more important than a business plan

Each of my many companies shares one mission: to drive positive change and make a difference in people's lives worldwide. Based on the products and services offered and the teams I assembled, I defined each company's vision (how we'll achieve the mission) and values (the factors that drive our decision-making).

Mission, vision and value work are imperative to achieving business success. They allow you to differentiate your businesses from competitors and ensure that the same compass leads your entire team and makes decisions that positively impact the greater team.

It's far easier to know the "why" and figure out the "how" than to understand the "how" and fabricate the "why." When you genuinely care for the mission you're pursuing, you bring creativity when figuring out the "how," encouraging innovation within the process. Your business plan can come later.

Related: Why I Didn't Go on Shark Tank — and How That Decision Actually Helped Me Scale

3. Hiring is essential to scaling a business, so take it seriously.

You can't achieve growth without a team supporting the business, so hiring is essential when scaling. Your employees need to understand your company's philosophy, and you should emphasize the importance of only hiring employees who align with that philosophy. An employee who ignores the company mission is a burden, and filtering those employees out during the hiring process is imperative. I will vouch for a candidate with less experience and more internal alignment with my company's philosophy than the latter. You want to build a team, not a workforce.

I also practice progressive policies for hiring employees with varied backgrounds and am open to second-chance hiring. Look for the right person to fill each role, and don't exclude people with records, disabilities, or unique experiences. An open hiring policy dramatically expands your pool of candidates and gives you a better chance of finding the perfect fit. If you are too set on hiring employees with pristine backgrounds, you are cutting your company short of massive potential. Employees with differing experiences and viewpoints are essential to innovation. Make a character judgment without letting bias hinder your decisions.

4. Incentivize for good performances and good attitudes

Once you have built your team, you must retain that talent. Don't expect that everyone that works for you views their job as their calling. That kind of view is naive and, frankly, egotistical. Incentivize your employees to work their hardest and bring good vibes to the office, then reward them.

I have no problem compensating for good attitudes just as much as I do good performances. Positive attitudes, a can-do outlook, and a sense of urgency work wonders when your team works towards lofty growth goals. And if you comprise your staff of individuals you care for personally and wish to see thrive, then bonuses and incentives should be a joy to hand out. It means you did your job during the interview process.

I even allow employees to bring their kids and animals to work when needed. Not many CEOs take this approach for fear of being viewed as "weak." However, I encourage entrepreneurs to promote inclusivity at the office and to foster a welcoming environment. I'm willing to accommodate my employee's needs because I value their contributions and want them to know that. The traditional workplace setting was designed for a cookie-cutter type of employee, a mold that not everyone can fit. Celebrate diversity among your staff and encourage a work environment that suits everyone.

To successfully scale a business, I've learned that you need to focus on what matters the most: the passion and mission behind the company and the people who make it function. Invest in those things first, then watch as your business grows.

Dr. Christina Rahm

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder of DRC Ventures

Dr. Christina Rahm, MS, PhD, EdD, is a globally recognized entrepreneur and scientific leader in health and wellness. With diverse expertise, she breaks down barriers to optimal health, presenting worldwide on nutraceuticals, wellness and environmental solutions.

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