How does the term "scalable" tickle your fancy when it comes to business growth?
It’s a term which has grown in the business lexicon over the last few years, especially if you work within the digital space. “Scalable” evokes visions of explosive business growth, where the business is built to manage and cope, whether there are 100 customers or 100,000.
It means boosting your profits without having to drastically change how your business strategy is implemented.
One of the important keys to achieving this scalable growth is building effective systems so that your business can seamlessly transition from small to large.
Scalable business making a splash
There are multiple examples of businesses that have been built to scale up or down as needed. Some you may have heard of already include Design Pickle (for graphic design), WP Curve (for WordPress websites), and of course, The Virtual Hub has been set up as a scalable business, too.
Why are these types of businesses a big deal now? We think this description from Investopedia explains scalability and its key benefits well:
“Scalability is a characteristic of a system, model or function that describes its capability to cope and perform under an increased or expanding workload. A system that scales well will be able to maintain or even increase its level of performance or efficiency when tested by larger operational demands.”
One thing that we’ve found to be common among entrepreneurs is a strong desire to grow, but often a sense of overwhelm when it comes to making that happen.
There are many out there who have set up their businesses in such a manner that they remain heavily involved. They have a finger in every operation and if there were an increase in demand, that means an increase in pressure and time commitment on their part.
The secret that these scalable businesses have figured out is that living as the “do it all entrepreneur” is NOT sustainable as a modern business solution, not if you really want your business to grow.
You’ll be constrained by the number of hours on the clock, just like anyone else is, not to mention the fact that everyone needs to be able to take breaks!
The key to business efficiency and scalability is knowing how to grow your business by maximizing that time you have by making your business as productive as possible.
Advantages of scalable businesses
Fans of the popular television show Shark Tank will know one of the most common questions asked by the sharks: “Is this business scalable?”
The question is asked to determine whether the contestants on the show have the right business strategy and are prepared to handle more than just the initial success they’ve enjoyed.
Will they be able to meet increased demand, grow their revenue, and achieve business growth quickly and easily?
The sharks (and other experienced investors) see scalable businesses as attractive investment options for the advantages they can enjoy, such as:
- Standardization allows them to get to market quickly and operate within a stable environment.
- They can run without the input of a founder or senior management.
- Onboarding new team members tends to be easier due to the standardized processes.
- They tend to provide a consistent client experience, meaning clients know what to expect and can be kept satisfied.
- They can leverage existing assets whenever there is a need to expand services or move into new markets.
- Customer acquisition is often via efficient, standardized processes.
From a business owner’s perspective, you might be keen on the idea that a scalable business is an attractive prospect to many investors, particularly if you know how to grow your business and dream of it growing to a large size, or growing your business to sell it.
Enabling a scalable business
We know why scalable businesses are desirable, so what is needed to ensure a business is scalable and how are virtual assistants helping business owners with that process?
For many entrepreneurs, sourcing virtual assistant services is a logical step to taking themselves out of many day-to-day aspects of running the business. A virtual assistant is their first team hire and they regard the relationship as a general partnership. If your business is set up well, then hiring a virtual assistant can become a key enabler of getting it to a scalable position.
While it’s important to have some systems and processes in place ahead of hiring a virtual assistant so that you can get the most from the relationship from the beginning, there are many things that a VA can help you set up or fine-tune.
Here are some of the key parts to creating a scalable business that virtual assistant services can help with:
Your foundational business systems
A scalable business begins with a strong foundation of the right mix of systems. The ideal time to introduce systems such as CRM tools, email management systems, sales tools or advanced ecommerce software is while you’re still small enough to be able to implement them properly.
It’s one of the best small business solutions you can do to help you iron out your systems. Once you get beyond a certain size, it’s still possible to put these tools in place, but it tends to be a much bigger deal getting them operating how you’d like them to.
Having robust systems helps enable business growth because these systems can expand to accommodate your business. For example, you don’t have to change how you use a good CRM tool, it works how you set it up regardless of the size of your client base.
If you are forward-thinking about building a scalable business, resist cobbling together a few inexpensive options that will prove to be ineffective in the long-run, and go for the systems that will grow with you.
Virtual assistants are often masters of these types of systems and can be a huge help to companies who need to have them set up right. As a first hire, a virtual assistant can help you build the right foundations in growing your business.
Creating and documenting processes
A core business strategy of the WP Curves and Design Pickles of this world is that they ensure they have clear, repeatable processes. This gives them an advantage when it comes to business growth because those processes are easily shared with and repeated by new team members.
A standardized approach also means that team members become experts at executing your processes. They can produce consistent, quality work that delivers a good experience for clients. If your business didn’t follow a repeatable process, there’s a good chance that your product or service delivery would be inconsistent and inefficient. You might not be able to deliver as much work within a given timeframe.
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” - Bruce Lee
Of course, an important to-do in order to facilitate this knowledge transfer is to document those processes, monitor their effectiveness, and update them where necessary. Virtual assistants are playing key roles in these companies, helping them to break down, document, and evaluate processes.
In growing your small business, there will inevitably be areas in it where things aren’t running as smoothly as they could be. One thing that virtual assistants are often great at is helping to identify those areas where bottlenecks occur. They tend to be heavily involved in the day-to-day activities of the business so have a good overview of inefficiencies as they creep in.
Bottlenecks can be a good clue that something needs addressing in your business in order to keep it on a scalable path to growth. As a business owner, it’s to your advantage to hire a virtual assistant who can help to look out for such things, so that you don’t spread yourself thin.
Ready to implement scalability?
Building your business with the aim of being scalable just makes good sense. A scalable business tends to enjoy better stability and sustainability as it grows, providing consistency for customers and better predictability of results for business owners.
If you’re ready to ensure that you can grow your business, begin with the foundation and build the systems and processes that will help to carry your business.
Hiring a virtual assistant is a smart business strategy and can be just what you need to help set up and implement those systems and processes, enabling you to grow through solid, repeatable practices. For more information on virtual assistants, make sure you read our Ultimate Guide to Virtual Assistants. The guide talks about all the things there is to know about virtual assistants and how they can help you leverage your business and get you out of overwhelm.