3 essential strategies for a successful scale-up

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Getting ready to scale up your business can be both exciting and incredibly daunting. Once a successful company starts to scale, it can take on a larger workload without compromising performance or losing revenue. In other words, it’s the only way to take things to the next level.

But scaling up is harder than it seems. If you grow too quickly, you risk things spiralling out of control. If you do it too slowly, the momentum you’ve built up may start to wane. So, how can you balance these concerns to keep your business on the path to success?
The challenges of scaling up a business vary depending on each company’s product or service, market and existing infrastructure. But in all cases, scaling up requires constant reassessment and pivoting to improve processes and overcome obstacles along the way. And while it’s impossible to prepare for every challenge, studies have identified three key features that all successful scale-ups share.

1. Define the company’s growth culture from above

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that strong leadership is essential for growth. Business leaders who define a clear vision for their product or service, and use it to inform development, are able to boost their organization’s potential.

By embedding their strategic vision into the company’s key areas—organizational structure, business outlook and behavior—founders or directors can instill a growth culture that produces real results. When employees share their company’s vision, they are more likely to feel committed to its purpose and see its success as their own.

While this may seem obvious, leaders who communicate an aspiration to grow their business are more likely to actually do so. Those who do not explicitly express a desire to grow frequently adopt moderate-growth strategies, and transmit this lack of ambition to the rest of their team.

What’s more, directors of high-growth scale ups are likely to think of success in terms of a wider range of metrics than simply sales or revenue. Other factors include product development and customer service, the latter of which affects all areas of business. Leaders who take a range of factors into account are able to enrich every aspect of their company’s culture—and inspire their team to do so, too.

2. Implement a strong governance framework

To support scale-up strategies, it’s essential to start building a good corporate governance framework from day one. A strong framework will support the organization and enable it to move with greater flexibility and resilience as it grows. The absence of this framework can make growth difficult, or even impossible.

Creating a governance framework goes hand in hand with developing management teams. Founders and directors who try to retain control over every aspect of their business will face a series of problems once the company starts to grow. As workload increases, business processes become more complex, and the team gets busier and busier, it won’t be feasible for executives to be everywhere at once.

As a result, it’s vital to delegate and divide responsibility among a team of capable managers. Any governance structure must include a strong management team with the skills and experience to help the scale-up succeed. Hiring a number of complementary profiles from a broad range of backgrounds will ensure that the scale-up process is informed by diverse perspectives.

3. Adopt scalable technology that can handle growth

Technology is essential for every scale-up. As a business starts to grow, additional resources are needed to address the increasing complexity of workloads, teams and customers. Tracking data on a spreadsheet may work at the outset, but cracks will emerge once a company starts hitting its growth targets. This is why it’s vital to adopt scalable technology.

Implementing scalable technology should enable an organization to automate almost all of its processes. By automating cloud storage, marketing, payroll and so on, a company can access its data faster, train new team members more efficiently, and streamline its operations so that its business model is truly scalable.

For these reasons, integrating scalable technology can empower an organization to reach its growth potential. It helps prevent roadblocks that may negatively impact the team’s motivation or customer satisfaction. And most importantly, it sets the company up for future success by promoting flexibility and the capacity to adapt.

Learn how to scale up with IE

The Owners Scale-Up Program at IE is designed to help proactive and enterprising business owners unleash their companies’ true potential. The program invites leaders to take a step back from their daily activities, so that they can critically evaluate and take control of the strategy that steers their business. By focusing on leadership, scaling up and innovation, participants update their business knowledge while acquiring highly practical strategies that they can implement immediately.

This face-to-face program is taught by world-renowned experts at IE in Madrid, where students are surrounded by like-minded business executives and senior managers from a range of global industries. If you’re ready to strengthen your leadership skills and drive your company forward in a changing economy, enroll today and explore all the benefits.


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