Running a small business is a challenging endeavor.
Cold, hard stats say that 50% of small enterprises go under during their first year, while a stunning 95% of startups don’t survive their fifth year in business.
As if things haven’t been difficult already, the current pandemic has hit many small businesses hard, leaving only a handful of them unscathed.
It is no wonder that for many business owners, scaling and growing their business in this climate and economy might seem like a far-fetched dream. However, if you take the right steps, you can join the ranks of small businesses that managed to figure out how to make things work even under such dramatic circumstances.
Here are some things to consider when scaling your business, especially in a troubled economy.
1. Adaptability and Flexibility
Adapt to survive has always been a business mantra, and today it’s more relevant than ever.
The trick is to identify the immediate, pandemic-related needs and pivot to a business model that will fill them. This tactic will not only allow you to navigate the temporary new normal but also build a long-time growth strategy.
For example, Spotify, a leading music streaming platform, already ticked all the boxes for success in the lockdown economy – people confined to their homes, trying to get their mind off the isolation of lockdown’s daily routine and fight anxiety, readily jumped to streaming their favorite music all day long.
And yet, the company decided to expand its portfolio by signing deals with celebrities and artists who provided fresh, original, high-quality content in the form of podcasts. Within just a month, more than 150,000 podcasts were uploaded. This way, the platform shifted from its pure-play model and turned into a copyright owner, thus tapping into a lucrative new business opportunity.
Many small businesses leveraged pivoting too, which proves that this approach also works for traditional small businesses. Restaurants started offering different options, including take-out, deliveries, catering, and meal subscriptions, which means that they can operate regardless of the current pandemic measures.
Similarly, small farmers were left stranded when their sales to supermarkets and restaurants took a nosedive during the lockdown, so they decided to focus on individual stay-at-home customers. Shopify, the popular e-commerce platform, served as an intermediary, connecting food manufacturers and sellers with customers within a 15-mile radius.
In order to scale your business, you need to secure funding.
As this undertaking, among other things, requires hiring more staff, deploying new technologies, and implementing additional equipment, it’s crucial to secure all the necessary investments.
This is a challenging process even in regular circumstances because you need a great business plan and an impeccable credit score. But, in times like these, it can be a real feat to get a loan or attract investors.
That’s why you need professional assistance when it comes to applying for bank loans, as they can assess your situation, suggest the best financing option for your business, and refer you to the bank most likely to accept your application.
The Paycheck Protection Program is a great way of making sure that you can run, scale, and grow your business in spite of a poor economy. Although being primarily designed to help with payroll costs, a new round of PPP allows for more flexible uses of the loan, meaning that you can cover software and computing costs, supply costs, as well as worker protection expenses.
3. Online Presence
One of the most critical elements of successful scaling is building and expanding your online presence.
Given that 87% of people start their product search online, it’s obvious that not having a website and using social media channels for your business is a huge setback. Even more so when we bear in mind that we’re witnessing a massive shift to online shopping due to lockdowns and social distancing.
A website, together with Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms, will allow you to improve the visibility and accessibility of your small business, as well as expand its reach. As a result, you’ll attract more customers and boost your profit, both of which are prerequisites for scaling and growth.
While we’re talking about your website, it’s worth mentioning that its design and functionality play an important role in making a great first impression. In other words, if your site isn’t well-designed, easy to navigate, packed with relevant content, and optimized for search engines, your visitors won’t bother to explore it further.
And just like that, you can lose numerous business opportunities within a very short time. To prevent this scenario, invest in designing an attractive, user-friendly website that will build trust and credibility with your customers.
4. Identifying Top Talent
Hiring the right people, who are skilled, experienced, and motivated to join forces with you and help you grow your business, is another critical step.
One of the best ways to identify and reach professionals who will match your criteria and fit into your company culture is by leveraging an internal recruitment program. According to studies, many positions are filled through referrals and networking opportunities, so think about encouraging and incentivizing your existing employees to recommend potential candidates.
Although you should also take advantage of job boards, sourcing new employees through employee referral programs and networking can be much faster.
Namely, this way, your employees or people from your network can vouch that the person they recommend meets the minimum requirements, which means that you can skip the resume screening stage and jump directly to interviewing the candidate.
In addition to that, this approach means that you won’t have to use the services of an external recruiter as well as that you’ll move quickly through the hiring stages, all of which will cut your expenses.
Take these four important factors into consideration when you’re scaling your business, and don’t rush things that can put the success of the entire process at risk.
About the Author
Michael has been working in marketing for almost a decade and has worked with a huge range of clients, which has made him knowledgeable on many different subjects. He has recently rediscovered a passion for writing and hopes to make it a daily habit. You can read more of Michael's work at Qeedle.