Scaling your business isn’t the same as growing it.

When you’re in the early stages of life as an entrepreneur, the terms “growing” and “scaling” can seem interchangeable. They both involve more clients and more sales and more revenue, right? And when you’re just trying to find clients the difference doesn’t seem to matter.

But once your systems are in place and things are running smoothly, it’s time to change the way you think about things and gather some new information. It’s time to get strategic about the future. In my last post I talked about mindset changes and things to consider. This is one of those things. (Miss that post? You can catch up here.)

  • Growing your business means getting more customers and clients and adding more people and expenses so you can serve those customers and clients. Your revenue and your expenses get bigger at the same pace… that’s growth.
  • Scaling your business means getting more customers and clients without necessarily adding people and expenses. It means serving more people with the same team and the same (or similar) expenses. When revenue grows faster than expenses, that’s scale.

And honestly, scaling your business is the way to go – especially if you want to create sustainable revenue without creating a huge team or a big organization. So, how can you use systems to scale your business? I have three suggestions.

Identify the work only YOU can do. Prepare to delegate the rest.

You are crucial to the success of your business, but you are not an essential part of every process. Many tasks are better delegated to others. The challenge is determining what you can delegate and what you really should focus on in order to scale your business.

Operational roles such as customer service and administration are likely the first areas you identify for delegation. But what about creative roles like developing new products and services or working closely with clients? Are there roles like these that others could fill as well as you?

Challenge yourself to identify the work that you are best at completing…the roles that require your leadership and vision. Make it a priority to delegate the rest.

Invest time in documenting your processes.

You might not be ready to delegate the roles you identify immediately, and that’s okay. But be sure to invest time regularly in documenting your processes. Take the wisdom and expertise that’s in your head and transfer it to instructions for someone else.

Not only will this prepare you to delegate, the simply act of documenting your processes will create opportunities to make each process more efficient. You’ll find ways to serve more clients, create more products, and generally sell more using the same system and the same team. As you cut waste and redundancy out of your processes, you’ll be setting your business up to scale.

Take advantage of technology.

As you document your processes, look critically at the steps you take to accomplish something. You may notice places where your process is redundant or wasteful. You may also realize a tool or software solution can help you create a shortcut. (Not “good at systems”? Here’s a your road map!)

Careful use of technology is a great strategy. Here are 5 areas in your business that you could easily streamline by automating certain parts of the processes.  Don’t over-automate, though!  Because instead of saving yourself time, you’ll end up wasting it managing all these different tools.  (Here are a few suggestions on how to pick the right tools for your business.)

Step into the role of CEO and Leader.

When you first started your business, you were quite likely the only employee. You were naturally focused on getting all the work done correctly and on time. As you added team members, you likely became a manager – still focused on the tasks at hand, but this time managing the efforts of multiple people.

In order to scale your business, you need to move from manager to CEO and Leader. Walking in those CEO stilettos requires shifting your mindset pretty significantly, and moving beyond the hustle of growing a business to the strategy of scaling one. It requires spending time developing your leadership skills, building your knowledge base, and pouring your energy into your team.