Small businesses are the lifeblood of an economy and should be not only surviving but thriving. A successful business is expected to grow, even in economic uncertainty, and in so doing is able to serve more people and increase turnover. Howeever, in many cases the operation has been build from humble beginnings and there are not necessarily robust systems or skills in place to support scalable delivery.
Most small service-based businesses are easily scalable, but perhaps not in the traditional sense.
To give an example, let’s say you have a passion or expertise you decide to start a business around. It happens all the time; this is the new breed of entrepreneur that has emerged from career dissatisfaction and redundancy. You set out your stall, and market to your target audience offering services and products that give value to your customers by serving a need or problem they have. You acquire your first clientele, word gets around, you expand, even diversify. The business may not be a global enterprise, but it’s providing a living for you and your family, and hopefully you’re still loving it.
At some point, however, successful small businesses like this hit a ceiling. While you are doing well, you can end up growing beyond your capacity to support those customers. While you may have knowledge and expertise, learned a trade, gained qualifications or retrained in order to start a business, you find yourself doing so much more than your core expertise. No-one ever taught you how to run a business!
So you know you need help, but you don’t know where to find it, or what the best help for you might be. Often you get help with your business, but not with you as a business owner. You can bring in hired help, outsource, subcontract, open up new shops, or even franchise your business. But all that needs managing too. The sad truth is you end up stressed, overworked, anxious, and hating the very business you were once so passionate about!
The answer lies in leverage. In order to grow your business, you need to duplicate what you do or deliver it in a different way in order to scale things up. This is often easier for a retail business than a service. The founder has created something that can be repeated, a product that can be manufactured and mass-produced, a process that can be duplicated and franchised.
With a service business, creating that important leverage seems harder, since the original business was built very much on your expertise, your personality, and your vision for serving others. How do you duplicate yourself? How can you scale up what you do?
The solution lies in sharing your expertise in other ways than one-on-one services, such as developing a one-to-many group programme or course.
To find out more about a leveraged strategy for growing your service business, download and read the intro book chapter of The Educational Entrepreneur.