Been dreaming about working less and making more this year? (Um, who isn’t dreaming of that every year, right?)
Entrepreneurship is a beautiful thing. And it also comes with a wide array of challenges – including how in the heck to scale to your “next level” without breaking your current business.
And there’s a looooot of talk about it on the Interwebz. But how do you know you’re in the right stage to scale and if your efforts to reach a wider audience (without sacrificing income) will take off?
Good news: It’s not actually that hard to figure out whether you’re in the right place to scale. Below, you’ll find the key components you need in place to successfully scale your online business. (Don’t worry, you can thank me later.)
1) A Solid Target Market
Sounds simple, right? But it’s true: Most entrepreneurs need a solid business foundation before they even think about scaling and this most definitely includes a well-defined target market.
Do you know who “your people” are? Do you know their demographics and psychographics? Do you know they actually exist?
If your answer is yes to all of the above, congrats! You’re one step closing to scaling successfully. But just knowing who your ideal clients are is only half the battle. The other half? Well, let’s talk about it. You also need…
2) An Offer People Love (and More Importantly, Buy)
If you’re super booked out and/or your first digital course flies off the digital shelves every time you swing over the virtual doors, this is another fantastic sign you’re ready to scale. Having an offer people love proves two points: you have a clearly-defined target market AND you understand their needs and wants.
This. Is. Huge.
Plus, let’s be real: If you’ve created one offer people adore, the chances are very good you can do it again. And you can also use this original, hot-selling offer to help you scale (see more at the bottom of this post!).
3) Efficient Systems and Processes
Here’s a harsh truth: Any issues or bottlenecks in your current business will only become more glaring – and detrimental to your success – as you start to scale.
Which means? Before you even start to scale your business, you’ll want to iron out any issues in your business foundations. You should have documented processes and workflows. You should know exactly how your work gets delivered, what needs to happen in order for work to get done (including work that isn’t directly for clients, like social media marketing) and exactly who does what, when and how.
If you need to go back to the drawing board at this point, I totally get it. The good news is you can also use this time to streamline. When you’re looking at your current systems and processes, are there any routine tasks you can automate? Are there any “steps” in your processes you can straight up remove?
Once you’ve got your systems and processes down, though, you’re one step closer to being able to successfully scale.
4) “Scalable” Tools and Technology
I’m a big fan of upgrading as you go. Nope, you don’t have to pay for a big fancy CRM when you only use 1/10th of the features and/or you can’t afford it comfortably.
But what you also don’t want to do is start implementing a plan to scale and realize you don’t have the software or tech to support it.
Like, can your current email marketing platform handle a major influx of subscribers since you’ll need to build your list like whoa to scale? Or do you have (or can you purchase) an e-commerce platform that’s hefty and feature-rich enough to deliver your scalable offers (like products and courses)?
If your answer is no to either question, you’ll want to at least map out a plan for your tech and tools moving forward. (You can hold off on actually snapping them up, though, until they’re actually necessary for your biz to function.)
5) A Well-Resourced Team
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it a zillion more times: You need a talented team to scale. You simply can’t do it all – and when you’re trying to reduce the number of done-for-you clients in your calendar while also ramping up the number of people who see your other offers (which is essentially the first step to scaling), you definitely can’t do it all.
You simply can’t be the person who delivers done-for-you website design client work, creates an epic website design course and painstakingly crafts every.little.piece.of.marketing. for both the DFY work and course, too. It’s just too much – even for the most talented and time-efficient entrepreneur.
I’m a huge advocate for building your team before you feel ready. This doesn’t mean you have to go all out and hire an expensive OBM right off the bat. Instead, you can start small with a general VA or tech VA to tackle low-hanging fruit tasks (aka tasks that do not require your personal touch or that are pretty much already automated), then start hiring out specific skillsets.
No matter who you hire first, second or last, though, I know firsthand that getting the right help on board will make your whole “scaling” journey about 1000x easier.
6) A Strong Network
It’s not rocket science: You need a rock-solid and hopefully rather large network in order to start scaling. Actually, I take that back. You don’t need it, but you’ll almost certainly want it.
And to be honest, most entrepreneurs I know who want to scale are running a successful referral-based business that literally only exists because of their network.
But if you’re going to branch out and create new offers, you’ll want to lean on your network for more than just one-on-one work referrals (although be sure to let them know if you do still have the time and capacity).
What else can a rock-solid network do for you? Well, you can also ‘use’ your network for partnerships and collaborations of all kinds. Maybe you decide to become an affiliate for someone in your network (thus selling their product/service and not needing to take on that additional done-for-you client to make up for that income). Or maybe you team up with someone in your network for a one-time webinar or workshop or other event. Or maybe you simply let them know you’ve got more scalable offers coming down the pipeline. There are so many ways to leverage your network beyond just referrals – and if you want to scale successfully, I suggest you try a variety.
7) A Larger Audience (or a Solid Marketing Plan to Build One)
Scaling successfully is partially (if not fully) a numbers game. If you want to increase you reach and revenue, you need to be getting in front of – and selling to – more people.
Because ultimately, more eyeballs on your offers = more money in the bank.
I see so many entrepreneurs try to “skip” this essential audience-building step and then wonder why nobody (or very few people) buys their first scalable offer.
While you should always be marketing yourself regardless (and honestly, having a consistent marketing strategy should probably get its own bullet point in this blog post), you’ll definitely want to ramp it up if you plan to start selling at scale.
How you do this is totally up to you, but whether you plan to start releasing TikTok videos or crank out more well-crafted blog posts that rank high on Google or book loads and loads of podcast interviews, the bottom line is you need to start getting your name out there (and getting more people on your email list to eventually sell to, to boot).
And while I’d never tell you not to start experimenting with digital courses or products with your current list and audience, I will definitely tell you that if you want to see continued growth, you’ll need fresh peeps on your list and coming into your world on the regular.
And before I go–just because nobody really breaks this down–here’s what I would do if I was scaling a business right now, step-by-step:
Evaluate your current biz situation. Are you ready to scale?
Do you have a clearly defined target market?
Do you have signature offer(s) your audience loves and buys on repeat?
Create a “bridge” offer to get you out of doing so much one-on-one work. An easy way to do this is to transform your signature offer into a VIP Day. Obviously, you’ll need a good offer in place. If you have one solid offer – like a website design package– you can transform it into a VIP Day to free up your time.
Then, simultaneously, use the ‘extra’ time you’ve not-so-magically acquired to grow your audience and build stronger connections with colleagues and potential collaborators.
At this stage, you can also start BETA test bite-sized scalable offers. Try a mini-course or digital product on a small topic you cover.
And of course, start outsourcing ASAP. 😉