In any industry – although especially with our small-to-medium-sized business clients – there comes a time when scaling a business is the logical next step. In our work at John Lynch & Associates, we help our clients scale their business by developing repeatable models unique to their operation.
However, even after working with some of the most innovative and trailblazing organizations in healthcare, we have seen a pattern of strategic moves emerge that can be applied to any business model in any industry.
The beauty of scaling a business is that any level of employee or executive at an organization can contribute to an organization’s growth. From streamlining workflows on a micro, task-based level to designing the entire business model for scale and national growth, each member of the organization can and should contribute to scaling a business.
Naturally, the techniques used to implement scaling strategies will vary depending on where you are in your business, what your vision is for the future, and how much capacity you have – on both the supply side and the demand side – to grow in a given time frame.
When scaling a business, it is not enough to have a conversation around planning and designing your organization’s growth at the executive level. Those conversations need to be had at every level of the organization, from the directors to the managers to the doers.
When the topic of scale is only covered at the highest level of the organization, you risk losing engagement and buy-in from the people actually doing the work.
For example, if you are implementing a new software system, you can do the technical work to get it up and running in your organization. However, if you have not developed buy-in with the people that are actually going to be using and overseeing the tool, your efforts will not be as meaningful.
There will not be acceptance and adoption of the new way of working. Instead, you will be left with a fancy new tool that you are supposed to be using, but no one is implementing it consistently or correctly, so it cannot have a positive impact on your business.
To prevent such a profound challenge, be sure to follow these strategic steps for scaling a business – any business – successfully.
As soon as you are ready to begin even thinking about scaling a business, that conversation will likely start at the very top of the organization with your CEO or your president. This is natural as these are the experienced professionals who should be designing the business for future success.
It is the leadership’s role to create that vision in any company. In conceptualizing the vision of the organization, the leadership team will plan for where the company is going in the next two years, five years, and 10 years.
To be successful and consider opportunities and pitfalls from every angle, the vision of the organization should not be created alone.
Another key part of the visionary phase that businesses of all sizes often skip is creating customer and client profiles. This includes identifying your target customer’s or client’s demographics, pain points, and the best way to communicate to them that you are the solution they need.
At John Lynch & Associates, we find that a collaborative approach, which many CEOs take with their executive team, is the hallmark to ensuring that vision is not only appropriate for the mission statement and values of the company itself, but that it can actually be put into place and that there are teams to execute on that vision.
Once the vision is in place, the entire C-Suite combine their expertise to formulate a plan to bring that vision to life. This collaborative work should include the CEO, CFO, CTO, COO, and CMO, as well as the Board of Directors and other top-level stakeholders.
This is where ideas are tested, feedback is incorporated, and the entire plan can come together with radical candor, profound transparency, and mutual alignment to the organization’s overarching mission.
The plan for executing the vision must also include details of who will be responsible for executing each portion of the plan, who will oversee the work, and on what timeline will the work be evaluated for accuracy, quality, and course correction, if necessary.
During the planning phase, the business’s leadership should create teams comprised of three different types of people:
At John Lynch & Associates, we often serve as the Innovators and Integrators for our clients to effectively kick off, execute, and complete projects. Prior to our engagement with our clients, we often see – especially in smaller businesses – a top-level leader come up with the vision and then hand off a task list to someone on their team and expect it to come to fruition.
Unfortunately, that method is not very effective and often leads to failure or unacceptably long timelines. Therefore, it is critical to be mindful in the planning phase to effectively create those teams and make sure they have the right talent on those teams.
Most businesses are great at the execution phase. This is the work they do day in and day out; it is what makes them successful and is what they are most comfortable doing. However, one critical element of the execution phase is often forgotten by the teams charged with carrying out the leadership team’s plan – and that is creating opportunities for your execution teams to be successful.
For many businesses, there is one small team in which everyone wears multiple hats, everyone easily buys into the vision, and the plan is crafted collaboratively.
However, for teams of more than about five individuals, there will likely be too many moving parts for the simplified team operation to work well. In those cases, small-to-medium-sized businesses need the leadership of the company to create the opportunities, the time, and the budget for those team members to go and do the work.
Without creating those opportunities for success at the highest level, the execution team will constantly be behind in their projected timeline or the scaling initiative will not be done effectively, which will end up costing the company far more in the long run.
Instead, scaling a business requires carving out the time and resources for the project to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible with maximum focus on the project at hand.
For some businesses, this means scaling back day-to-day operations until the internal work can be done. For others, it means hiring outside teams to support your in-house team so operations can continue without disruption.
In addition to creating the opportunities for the execution to take place effectively and having a unified team with their appropriate roles, business leaders must also pay careful attention to the communication dynamics within their organization.
From innovative ideas that are born in real-time to anticipated problems that may arise down the line, team members should have clear and specific modes of communicating important information to managers and company leaders. Clarifying these channels before the execution phase begins is critical to scaling a business.
Many businesses assume that the evaluation phase is something that happens at the end of a project. However, the most effective method for scaling a business includes frequent and ongoing evaluation.
When you are scaling a business quickly, you want to be able to test ideas and completed projects rapidly. This sort of rapid-cycle beta testing will ensure that each increment of the project is strong and reliable before building on top of it.
If an early-phase task goes untested and later work depends on that early project being completed perfectly, your entire scaling plan can come tumbling down quickly and at great cost to your business.
Once you have completed your small beta tests along the way, the final step for scaling a business includes conducting an evaluation at the end of a project or upon reaching a milestone in your business.
At this stage, you will want to collect internal team feedback as well as external customer or client feedback. Gathering this information will tell you how effectively your team worked together to scale the business and, perhaps more importantly, what impact the initiative had on the people you serve.
Finally, upon compiling all of your feedback and data, you will be able to improve upon and develop repeatable models for scaling within your business specifically. Communicating wins and areas for improvement to your teams – from the executive visionaries to the task executors – during a debriefing meeting will allow you all to prepare for an even more successful scaling initiative in the future.
Scaling a business is both an exciting and stressful endeavor. For many business owners, it can be overwhelming to make sure no important task or piece of planning is overlooked.
If you need help creating your own repeatable model for scaling your business, get in touch with us. I and my colleagues at John Lynch & Associates would appreciate the opportunity to get to know you and your business and help you reach your goals.
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