Scaling a business can present a challenge for any organization. It is an acutely painful point for companies experiencing rapid growth. Evolution is dependent upon stability and continuity of business operations. There are steps you can take to minimize these growing pains.

70% of startups struggle with scalability

An effective and scalable business model will have the following four primary characteristics:

1. Standardization

An organization needs to create repeatable experiences across all customer interactions and eliminate complexities. Customer interactions should be:

  • Easily understandable
  • Documented with best practices
  • Measurable, including relevant milestones and tollgates
  • Contain clear handoffs and transitions between functions and teams

2. Defined ownership and controls

Clarity in process ownership empowers change and allows optimizing effectiveness. To enable that, the following must be in place:

  • Definition of necessary roles, skills, and responsibilities
  • Hiring and resource development plans that support broader sales and service objectives
  • Reasonable measures to track performance

3. Proactive customer lifecycle management

Customer engagement relies on how well an organization understands and facilitates the customer journey. Interactions should be meaningful and valuable. Proactive customer management programs share the following traits:

  • Repeatable end-to-end processes
  • Methods to harvest information for optimization of sales, delivery, support and product operations
  • Processes for enabling customer success from acquisition to renewal and expansion

4. Innovation

An effective innovation model is able to mine customer interactions to support and refine product roadmap and associated solutions/offerings. The following are key attributes:

  • Active feedback loop from service engagements and customer interactions to support innovation lifecycle
  • Asset harvesting that furthers adoption and success (ROI, OCM, etc.)
  • Validation of new concepts and ideas with customer advocates

Enabling the aforementioned changes requires planning and prioritization. You must determine which areas to invest and focus on first. Sequencing these changes depends on the maturity of the organization and product, as well as the market and customer dynamics.

Approach

To mine improvement opportunities, follow the flow of the customer lifecycle and investigate associated processes. This approach addresses the top-line revenue areas first and improves the sales funnel.

Any transition can have complications. Here are some steps to minimize common pitfalls.

1. Identify champions

Establishing a network of champions is a first step in initiating a process of internal transformation. As a side benefit, especially in smaller organizations, this also can lead to more empowered and engaged employees.

2. Invest time into analysis

You don’t need to hire a third-party to do an expensive study. However, a focused effort with subject matter experts and customer advocates can be invaluable in uncovering and prioritizing improvement opportunities. Don’t try to tackle it all at once. Rather take one segment of the process at a time.

3. Create a continuous feedback loop

A continuous feedback mechanism is essential in creating an adaptive culture. Whether the information is mined from post-interaction surveys or lengthy customer advisory sessions, it needs to be aggregated, analyzed and be fed into an overall improvement roadmap.

4. Monitor the roadmap and progress

The roadmap needs to be transparent to the organization. Tracking and celebrating the progress and results will help mobilize the teams around the mission and evolution of your business.

Remember that scaling your business is a process that does not happen overnight. The teams that succeed nimbly adapt to challenges, while having solid frameworks of support. Implement a careful balance of standards, controls, proactive management and innovation to minimize risks.