How to scale your online business – the smart way
Hats off to you for getting your online business off the ground! Making that dream come true is a huge step and a significant accomplishment. Now, the next part of the dream for many business owners is to drive exponential growth. If things are good and you’re making a profit, jump on the opportunity to scale your online business. Planning for this next step is critical. Without proper planning, you may find that your online business does not have the bandwidth, finances, or marketing tools and resources to sustain steady or sudden growth.
Create SMART goals
As you scale your online business, set some goals. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Bound) goals are best; they keep you focused and allow you to achieve what you set out to do. In your planning, create the end goal – growth -- and then add smaller goals to the mix to help you achieve the larger goal. Using a SMART goals strategy allows you to create goals that will keep your business on the path to success.
With these goals in place, you can begin planning out the methodology for reaching them. This means financial backing, resources and staffing, and other tools necessary to achieve the goal.
Related: 8 Tips for creating a business plan
Do I have funding to scale?
If your online business is healthy and bringing in a return on your investment, it’s time to reinvest some of that profit into scaling your business. If you cannot fully fund scaling your business on your own, you may want to look for an investor or take advantage of grants available to small businesses. Take advantage of the data supplied by the U.S. Small Business Administration. There is a wealth of information right at your fingertips – it just takes a small amount of time to research.
In-house or outsourcing – which is better?
When thinking about scaling your business, evaluate the strengths among your staff. If your business is just you, or if there are gaps in your staff’s expertise, it may be time to reach out for help. You may need a savvy marketer who can help implement strategic plans to get your business out there. Reaching out to online influencers, creating exclusive video content, even giving the content on your website a refresh -- these are all areas that can really boost your business.
A word to the wise: Don’t skimp on talent. There is a large pool of creative marketing professionals to be found. Many excel in one area of the marketing spectrum. Get yourself a content creator. Look for a social media evangelist or a search engine marketing manager to oversee paid and organic search efforts. Don’t forget a designer who can bring all the greatness your newly creating marketing team has laid out to life. And of course, if you don’t have one already, a web IT professional can be invaluable when it comes to scaling your business.
The next step will be to decide if you want full or part-time employees, consultants, freelancers, etc. Bringing in contractors can help you keep your costs down as you scale. Once you determine if a given position is needed on a permanent basis, you can hire a permanent employee.
Where can you find these experts? Don’t underestimate the power of networking. Hop on LinkedIn or speak to your circle of friends. There’s a good chance someone you know has a connection to a variety of talent that they’d love to share with you.
Naturally, adding to your staff isn’t free, so be sure to consider what resources are needed. Look at the average costs for these professionals and add this to your financial planning.
Measure your success
As you put plans to scale your online business in motion, be sure you pay attention to your web analytics. Now is the time to implement an analytics tool on your website, if you haven’t done so already.
Set monthly key performance indicators (KPIs) to help you keep track of how your plan is doing. For example, one of your marketing goals might be to increase your organic website visits by 10%. Get your baseline numbers and familiarize yourself with where your business is at the starting point. This way, as you initiate new actions, you can easily see what is working and where you and your team may need to make adjustments.
Having data at your fingertips allows you to make actionable decisions. It helps you better meet the demands of your growing business by placing more resources where needed. Forbes recently published an article about business intelligence that describes the evolution of analytics and how it applies to businesses of all sizes. Invest in analytics and business intelligence based on the size of your business. The insights gained from analytics tools will help you provide the best experience for your customers, which will aid in your growth plans.
Protect your assets
Scaling your online business is a big deal. It shows that you are serious about the future of your small business. Choose an insurance company that will be there for you, with policies that best fit your business. To learn what kind of insurance you need to protect your business against the specific risks you face, you can get a quote here.
Are you ready?
We’ve provided some of the basics of scaling your online business. Are you ready to take the plunge? We’ve been by the side of many small business owners as they’ve taken their businesses to new heights. It’s always encouraging to see our customers make their dreams come true. You can make it happen, too. It all starts with a dream and a plan. Doing the research and planning to scale your business will allow the rest to fall in place.