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Small Business Start-Up to Scale-Up in 5 Steps

Building a Business to the Next Level

Your small business may have started in one room, with a few friends for employees. But no matter how successful you’ve been so far, this business model won’t allow you to grow into the enterprise level company of your dreams. It’s time for a clear look at what has to change.

1. Focus on resale value.
Like a real estate investment, your business should be desirable to future buyers. Even if you have no intention of ever selling, you may someday want to obtain financing for a growth project, form an enterprise partnership or issue public stock. Outsiders will be evaluating your company, and you’ll want them to like what they see.

2. Analyze your processes.
Are your billings/receivables a tad slow? Employees consistently putting in overtime to meet deadlines? Equipment at maximum capacity? Areas where you’re just managing to squeak by now will completely break down under heavier demands in the future. Give them room to grow with more staff, better software, outsourcing, etc.

3. Pick customers’ brains.
You’ll never know how well you’re really serving their needs unless you ask. And their needs may not be the same now as when you started the business. Use their input to guide your company’s next moves and grow in the right direction.

4. Hire for expertise, not friendship.
Your buddies gave it their all to help your business get off the ground. But to grow to the next level, you’ll need true specialists in key positions, from sales to accounting to production management. Find ways to redistribute responsibilities so that new hires can contribute effectively to the long-term growth of the company.

5. Get everyone on board.
It’s one thing to identify what needs changing, another to put changes into practice. You may decide to introduce a new CRM system, a platform that automates routine tasks, or a process that prevents duplication of effort. In almost every case, you will then encounter resistance to the learning curve, elimination of jobs or risk of failure. You can minimize this by making sure everyone involved understands the benefits of the change to the business as a whole and each of them as participants in the company’s future success.