How can SMEs scale up?

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If you want your small business to succeed, you need a plan on how to scale up. By focusing on scaling rather than only on “growing” your company can generate greater revenue without increasing costs or decreasing resources along the way.

What is scaling in business?

Scaling in business means increasing the size and scope of operations, but without a clear direction, any attempt to expand can backfire and slow down your business. When companies scale, on the other hand, they add revenue at a faster rate than they take on new costs. When a business is able to scale their operations, it means that they are able to handle a growing amount of work or sales in a capable, cost-effective manner. 

There are many ways to scale your business, but first you need to determine if your business has scalability.

Does your business have scalability?

Scalability refers to a company’s ability to grow without being hindered by its structure or resources availability when faced with increased production. It applies to a business’s capability to perform under an increased workload or an expanded scope. 

Small businesses have low operating costs compared to larger companies. Scaling a business means enabling and supporting growth in your company and having the ability to grow without being hampered. 

When preparing to scale your business, you should have your long-term goals in mind.

Recommendations for SMEs to scale up

Give your company the time it needs to grow and develop to the point where scaling seems more like an imperative than an option. When the time is right, scale up your small business by following these critical steps.

Evaluate and plan

Look inside your business to see if you are ready for growth. Does your organization have the people and systems to handle many new orders, without failing or struggling? To start the plan, you can produce a detailed sales growth forecast, broken down by the number of new customers, orders and revenue you want to generate. Include a spreadsheet that breaks the numbers down by month and try to be as specific as you can.

Streamline processes

It is necessary to get rid of those activities, procedures and tasks that do not add value in order to increase operational efficiency. This also depends on the effective use of resources. When everyone follows a well-tested set of steps, there are fewer errors and delays, there is less duplicated effort, and staff and customers feel more satisfied.

Standardize processes

It is an essential step important for businesses, especially as you prepare to scale yours. Aside from automation, standardizing your business processes will help as you build your team and make sure that everybody is on the same page. 

To standardize your business you should automate some processes such as:

-Accounting and payroll

-Customer-relationship management

-Inventory management

-Appointment scheduling

Identify your barriers to growth

Once you have objectives, part of developing a strategy for growth involves thinking about possible barriers to scaling up. There are several factors, which could restrict your desire to grow, such as lack of leadership skills, lack of funding, weak cash flow and even being in the wrong premises. Identifying the potential barriers can help you address and overcome your weaknesses and the threats they could bring.

Adopt flexible models

Companies need flexibility to grow their businesses and to adapt to unexpected circumstances. This helps to create a flexible and agile culture that allow them to react quickly to any change. It is important to identify the specific needs of each environment, customer or business area in order to establish standardized procedures

Leveraging technologies and full-suite software packages can help business owners focus on higher-order tasks and expand their company while saving time and keeping upfront costs low. 

Integrate operations

The lack of integration of information or processes is a weak point in any business and, it is also one of the most common problems in the environment of small and medium-sized companies. How does this lack of operational integration manifest? In the formation of bottlenecks, both in production environments, and in the commercial department itself, including financial, which can cause delays in work orders processing.

Integrating all operations allows managers and workers to have access to the information in a simple, safe and fast manner.

Provide real time access to information

Relevant data and insights should be available to each member of the organization. Each area should have the information necessary to work efficiently. Real time reporting minimizes manual work and increases transparency and trust. Companies such as DataScope offer mobile forms that allow you to get real time data and generate reports at a much faster pace.

Put effort on team building

As a business owner, you know the value of building out your professional network. When scaling a business, you also will need to leverage other people’s talents and expertise when it comes to executing a scaling strategy.

Take a critical look at the talent pool in your company and get ready to either hire or outsource for key responsibilities and tasks to construct a team able to sustain an increased workload.

Access outside expertise when required

Recruiting might not always be the answer. Often it can be better to outsource tasks and functions to ensure the best outcomes. It is also advisable to delegate responsibility when necessary. Do not spend all your time on day-to-day matters, when you could be devoted to growing your business. Stay focused on the ‘big picture’ and develop the abilities required to make your business grow and scale. Scaling in business often requires bringing new personnel on board to avoid bottlenecks and optimizing workflow so tasks are not concentrated in your hands.

Develop management skills

Developing a wide-ranging management skillset is critical before you scale your business. As an entrepreneur, you are used to carrying out many duties, but knowing how to effectively teach, train and delegate tasks to your employees are essential skills for scaling. 

You need to be prepared to lead by example to create a great workplace culture that generates trust and mutual respect. In other words, SMEs will need to design end-to-end processes and provide all the people involved with the necessary training and skills.

Focus on core offerings

To operate at scale, managers need to focus on mastering the company’s core competencies where you offer the most value to clients and customers. In every company, there are daily or weekly tasks that generate more leads and greater revenue than the rest. Those tasks must be a priority because they are the ones that stimulate growth.

Focusing on the wrong aspects of the business turn into delayed growth and can even affect negatively the teamwork

Learn from competitors who have grown

How have they succeeded? Finding out how many staff they now have could give you an idea about how many you will need. Try to understand their business model to learn what the following steps are.

Examine your success with a critical eye

For your business to be successful, you must have a competitive edge over other companies in your market. This goes beyond your product or service offerings and is closely related to how you provide your offerings, rather than what those offerings are.

With a critical eye, assess what exactly your business brings to the table that others do not. It is fundamental for scaling businesses to identify, develop and effectively market their strengths.

Put a strategy in motionIf you want to scale your small business, you need to be able to draw up a big picture strategy to foresee where you want the business to go, target revenue and what share of the market you want.


DataScope is a platform which allows various industries to streamline, organize and evaluate the work of their field staffs thanks to online forms which provide real time indicators 100% adaptable to any field.

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About the author

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Sandra Melo

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