Before we head on to helping you figure out what you can do to scale your startup successfully, you need to know the difference between growing your business via Growth Hacking and growing your business via Scaling.
Never confuse the two terms. Although similar, they are vastly different fundamentally.
Growth hacking is new-age marketing in the Web 2.0 era. A successful growth hacker researches consumer behavior, insights and gamification concepts then combines them with the product knowledge to find the right message to attract users.
Growth hacking extraordinaire, Aaron Gin says, “A growth hacker finds a strategy within the parameters of a scalable and repeatable method for growth, driven by product and inspired by data. He lives at the intersection of data, product, and marketing.”
On the other hand, scalability depends on your product/market fit and business model.
Forbes writer Martin Zwilling defines scalability very aptly, “(scalability) means that your business has the potential to multiply revenue with minimal incremental cost.”
And, you can only multiply your revenue when you grow continuously. Take a look at these tips to help your startup scale through growth:
1. Get Your Basics Down Pat
Before you start worrying about scaling your startup, you need to make sure your house is in perfect order – and conducive to scaling. According to StartupGenome’s survey 74% startups fail because they scale very early i.e. prematurely. These failed startups end up focusing on all the right things, but at the wrong time. Timing is everything when it comes to growing a startup. Make sure you’ve focused on the following before moving ahead:
- Has your product reached market fit?
- Do you know who your core users (customers) are?
- Have you figured out the perfect marketing channel for your product? Hint: it’s the channel with the highest ROI and can scale when you do.
- Do you have the capital to scale? You can’t be sidetracked by worries of running out of money when you’re focusing on scaling.
2. Automate Core Operational Functions
When you’re a one-man show, it’s fine to use a pen and paper or a simple spreadsheet to keep track of your expenses, sales, revenue, hiring etc. But, as you start to grow, your methods of keeping records should be able to soak up that growth efficiently.
In short, you need to automate all your core operational functions such as Payroll, data storage, marketing, managing new hires, withdrawals etc. When you automate your functions you’ll be streamlining them for scaling. You won’t need to allocate any of your hard earned revenue nor your scarce time to expanding your operational capabilities.
3. Delegate the Non-Essential Functions
When scaling, you as the founder need to focus on tasks that fulfil one goal: growth. Delegate the functions or tasks that don’t need your particular attention. Free up your limited employees’ time and lighten their burden by outsourcing tasks that your startup can make-do without such as marketing, designing, recruitment etc.
Instead of spending time and resources on building a specialized team to meet these goals, outsourcing and delegating can help you sharpen your focus on the goals that help you scale.
4. Form Strategic Partnerships
Form strategic partnerships with companies that can complement yours. Cases in point: Uber’s partnership with the NFL Players Association and BlockStream’s partnership with PwC. These partnerships let Uber and Blockstream gain exposure to a larger user base and improve their distribution strategies.
Most of these strategic partnerships are based on a revenue share agreement. But, don’t let that stop you from forging these partnerships. Remember, your goal is to grow your startups’ presence, and for that you’re going to need public exposure.
5. Be Miserly
When you’re in the process of scaling, you cannot afford to spend on anything that doesn’t help you grow. As a rule of thumb, ask yourself before signing on the dotted line “Is this sum of money helping us achieve our goals of efficiently growing our revenue?”
If, yes, then go ahead. If, not, then don’t. Remember, when you’re trying to scale, it’s going to take at least 3 months for the new-scale profits to start coming in.
Scaling is a stage in your startup’s life sure, but, it’s also a mindset. You need to realize that things are going to be a bit tough before they get better. To become big, you need to think big. And, long!
These 5 tips will help you realize when the time’s perfect for your startup to scale and what you need to do to weather the storm and come out stronger at the end.