Creating sustainable growth is a top priority for thousands of small-to-medium enterprise (SME) owners across North America. For many business owners, the first few years of operation are simply about survival. Once they start to generate results, their main goal transitions from survival to growth.
This is where many companies make a crucial mistake.
Often, when a company “strikes gold” with an offering that actually works for their clients, management pushes for more leads and more clients, expecting to skyrocket their revenue. However, sustainable growth is much more complex than simply adding more clients.
Even the most successful SMEs can fall apart when they attempt to scale without a proper industrialization plan in place. That is why it is important to lay the groundwork for successful growth before expanding. With that in mind, here is a simple 5-step methodology for successfully scaling an SME and creating long-term growth:
1. Develop bulletproof processes and procedures
Before a successful, growing businesses can scale up, it’s important that they codify the things that have made them successful in the first place.
Most business owners expect that they will need to add team members in order to grow. But setting your team up for success is just as important as choosing the right team members.
Before you can delegate tasks to your team, you must create airtight procedures that are both clear and concise. These procedures will outline — in very specific terms — your exact expectations for a given task and the step-by-step process for completing it.
The person creating processes and procedures, need to have an innate understanding of your company’s operations, so there is no room for interpretation or mistakes.
By passing these procedures along to your team members, you can ensure all work completed by others is up to your standards and follows your thinking, resulting in continuity in your delivery. This consistency is key, as it ensures your clients will not notice a delay or drop in quality as you transition from a hands-on role to a management position.
2. Automate as many tasks as possible
Once you have a clear picture of the tasks that are required to operate your business – everything from sales & marketing, to operations & finance – you can look for opportunities to automate them.
As your company grows, more and more administrative tasks will eat up valuable time. From communicating with clients to processing invoices and ordering supplies, more clients means more administrative work. By automating as many tasks as possible, you can effectively reduce the amount of time your team spends on administrative work while also minimizing human errors.
You might be surprised with how many daily tasks you can automate. From creating a lean data flow, to creating powerful content from templates, there is a massive amount of work that can be automated in any company. Just be careful – automation is only as good as human error allows it to be. You need to have your manual processes mapped first, before you can add layers of automation.
By automating these tasks, you can effectively minimize errors that occur during handoffs, streamline your workflow, and reduce employee expenses. As long as your processes and procedures are in order, your automation can flow seamlessly through your workflow, resulting in increased efficiency with reduced costs.
3. Build the right team (and train them properly)
Many entrepreneurs and small business owners fall into the trap of thinking they must complete every task on their own. In fact, of the 1.1 million SMEs in Canada, 55% of them are considered micro-enterprises and have just 1 to 4 employees.
Even after bringing on more employees and growing the size of the business, most small owners must still take on a wide variety of responsibilities and wear many different “hats” to ensure the continued operation of their company.
In these situations, the CEO or owner often has a vision for the company and a specific way of operating their business, which can make it difficult to delegate with confidence. The reality is that scaling is a lot of work — too much work for someone to do by themselves.
It is crucial that you put together a team of talented, experienced individuals and trust them enough to delegate tasks to them. But you don’t need to build a team in the traditional way anymore – if you have a clear process mapped, you can easily leverage a freelancer or agency to fill critical roles on your team.
When building a business centred around long-term growth and sustainability, hiring talented team members is crucial. Regardless of whether you choose to insource or outsource, you must find team members who can produce high-quality work based on your expectations, freeing you up to focus on the long-term success of the business, rather than the day-to-day operations.
4. Find the right clients
For many business owners, there is a misconception that “any client is a good client.”
In reality, some clients are zapping, and take more work than others. They can detract from your ability to serve the rest of your clients.
Whether you have to chase them down for basic information or they need constant revisions and custom work, the effort that some clients require simply isn’t worth the return. During times of growth in a company, it is important to recognize who is your ideal client and to structure your offering to appeal to this sector.
Creating sustainable growth — especially with automated tasks and bulletproof procedures — requires a level of stability and consistency through your client base.
The more you divert from your “ideal client,” and your core product offering the more time-consuming and complex a project becomes. With that in mind, it’s time to change your thinking from “we need more clients” to “we need the right clients.” Find a few clients for whom you can consistently generate results and dedicate all of your effort to them.
5. Win for them consistently
Now that you have a base of optimal clients, the most important thing is to win for them consistently. Assuming your offering generates positive results, your clients will want to stick around. If you deliver the results you promised, they will be happy to increase their investment.
This presents the opportunity for upsell: adding value to your clients’ current projects with additional services you can provide for an increased return. Rather than spending time searching for more ideal clients, you can continue to serve your existing client base while still growing your business.
This opens up the key to sustainable long-term growth: monthly recurring revenue.
Stay tuned for our upcoming blog posts, where we:
- break down how to unlock the potential MRR from your current client base and create sustainable growth.
- highlight the best options for automation engines for your team
- showcase why mapping your sales process can have a profound impact on your team
- help you determine which elements of your sales process you should insource vs outsource
Who Are We?
At eRational Marketing, we help awesome small businesses win big. We provide growth solutions for B2B firms, including demand generation, process optimization and training your team to streamline your sales cycle.
If you’re interested in seeing how we can help you scale up, book a Growth Discovery Call with one of our experts.