Pro’s & Con’s of a Scale-Up

by Thom van Wijk
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Ready to take your business to the next level? Scaling up may be the best way for your company. 

But actually being ready to scale is a critical factor for success when moving on to become a scale-up. As tempting as it may be to look at all the upsides of scaling up, there’s just as much to learn from looking at the downsides and reasons not to scale (yet). That’s why we wanted to take a look at both sides and find out what questions you need to ask yourself.

New opportunities

Scaling up goes hand in hand with new ideas and opportunities, and that’s awesome; it’s what we all look for. But what you also need, to be able to scale, is focus. That’s undivided attention on the health of your core mission, to be able to improve results and move forward instead of in all directions. Ask yourself with every new idea or opportunity: how will it help to meet my goal and why did we start this business in the first place? Deliberately choose what to do and – just as important – deliberately choose what not to do.

Slow with the flow

Formalizing processes is often not an energy booster, and in the flow of things, it’s great to keep going with nothing slowing you down. But “forgetting” to document processes in the rapid growth, will slow down the overall process and eventually you’ll pay the increased price.

Sustainable growth 

Scaling is about growing, not about getting bigger. The growth in itself is not the goal, becoming more efficient is. What you need to ask yourself, and put to the test: are you sure that when you scale, you will be able to keep up the growth? Do you really know your ideal customer? Your current clients may be early adopters, but you probably need to reach the majority when you scale – a very different buyer. Do you know how much each incoming order has cost you – how much effort went into getting that order? Do you have the right systems in place?

Too much yes makes a mess

Don’t say yes to every request made by your customers or you’ll make a mess out of your business. Are you adapting to the opinions and feedback of single customers or to that of the thousands?

New people

If you are in a position of scaling, you will also be able to grow your team. But there’s a risk of hiring too fast in the stage of scaling up. You need to first be able to hire the right people and then onboard them in a professional way before you start hiring anyone at all, and it’s not easy to get it right. Do you have a clear idea of what would be the right fit* for each position?

* we recently wrote a piece about hiring in a growing company 

Fast pace, fast people?

When the company grows at a fast pace, the people working for it will need to go there too. And not everybody can run as fast. People are pushed into domains and roles beyond their existing competencies. That’s an exciting opportunity but can also be a challenging one for some. Do you know how to lead people through this next phase and what extra training to provide?

ScaleHub - Blog Pro's & Con's of a Scale-Up

Long term goals

Moving fast, there’s a tendency to focus on the short term. But to move fast, you not only need to run, you need to know exactly where you are running to. With a clear sense of direction, you will be able to make quick but smart decisions. Therefor: have you clearly defined your long term goals?

On your toes

You need strategy and solid long term plans to achieve what you envisioned, but:  unforeseen situations occur, competitors enter the market and trends or even the whole markets may change. Consequently, you may need to change course quickly at one point or another. Are you ready to deal with changes that may flip everything upside down?

Get big (results?)

Sure, it’s nice to get big results – it’s why you want to scale – but it takes a heavy weight to cause a big splash. And becoming a heavy weight may make you less agile as well, when it may be better to stay lean and mean; test the market, do research, find out what works and then course-correct before you move on to the larger scale.

There’s much to consider before scaling up. Are you comfortable enough to take the plunge, or comfortable right where you are? They say: Great things never come from comfort zones, but also: good things come to those who wait. What will it be?