If it were possible to stay a small business forever to cut significant costs from hiring new employees and equipment, everyone would be doing it.
However, enterprises with teams of hundreds and thousands of people exist. At some point, they realized the workloads were increasing due to increased demand, and so they adjusted accordingly.
Regardless of the size of your business, there is a right and wrong time to scale. If the money isn’t there or the workload doesn’t warrant bringing in new employees, you should reconsider scaling.
But, if you’re generating reports regularly and the numbers indicate that the pace your business is working at will become unmanageable, or it’s becoming more and more difficult to achieve long-term goals, it might be the time to scale.
We’re going to break down the five best indicators it’s time to scale your business by looking at some of the previously mentioned examples and more. That way, you can scale seamlessly without worrying you’re doing too much all at once.
1. Employees are constantly swamped
When your employees’ workload seems to keep increasing with no end in sight, it’s time to take a step back and think if working at that pace is manageable long-term. If you’re able to bring in freelancers to lighten the workload temporarily, that could work, but that can become costly over longer periods of time.
Ask your employees what they think about their workloads. The answers will obviously be subjective, but if the overwhelming majority appear to be busier than they’re able to manage, or are stressed over the amount of work they’re receiving, scaling might be the only option if you don’t want the overall workload to decrease.
2. Long-term goals are unachievable
We’ve mentioned long-term goals a few times now, but why do they matter?
Well, it’s inevitable that successful businesses will scale in some fashion. The more success they achieve, the more they need to maintain it, whether it’s through hiring more employees or by purchasing more powerful software and outsourcing.
Ideas about how a business will function change over time, too. No one ever really knows what to expect because success isn’t entirely in their hands. If an original long-term goal was to make an X amount of dollars, but that goal is being accomplished much faster or slower than expected, it’s a clear indicator you’re doing something very right or very wrong.
If you achieve that goal and it’s still not enough, it’s time to scale—especially if meeting that demand is swamping all the employees.
3. Leads keep coming
Ideally, you’re using a sales pipeline to determine how close and far away your business is from converting leads into customers. The pipeline is a visual guideline that can be monitored on sales CRM software or even on a whiteboard. Regardless of how many steps it takes for a lead to convert into a customer, regardless of what your long- and short-term goals are, leads keep coming into the pipeline.
This is a significant indicator because it means your leads are, at a base-level, interested in the products or services your business sells. They’re consistently connecting with your mission and feel as if your products or services will be beneficial in some way, which also implies audiences you haven’t reached yet might be too.
When a business is able to bring in tons of leads, they’re giving themselves the best opportunity to acquire more sales-qualified customers who are more likely to do business with you again.
4. You’re able to define a repeatable sales model
This means that there’s no more trial and error when it comes to the sales process and buyer’s journey. You understand—for the most part—how a lead is going to enter the pipeline and how they’re going to interact at each stage. The process becomes predictable and repeatable, and leads can be segmented to personalize interactions on a deeper level.
When the process becomes repeatable, that leaves your business open to expand to broader audiences. You can manipulate the model to take more personalized segments into account.
If you’re unable to determine what the best sales model for your business is, it’s not time to scale. There has to be a solid foundation for your sales team to follow before your business is in a position to scale. A solid foundation should have limited steps that are clear for agents to understand and are actionable, always driving the customer forward.
5. The numbers say you’re good to go
You’re hopefully monitoring sales, marketing, and support metrics on a regular basis. These numbers are going to be able to determine whether or not you’re ready to scale. Employees might say they’re not swamped out of fear that they’re not capable of keeping up; long-term goals might seem impossible to achieve, even though your company is right there; and big brands might want hard proof of your success. This is where the numbers come in.
Some of these numbers include revenue over a set period of time. Keep in mind that anything less than a quarter is too soon to tell what direction your business is heading in. You have to look at the big picture and beyond. What are future revenue growth projections indicating?
If conversion rates are high, you’re meeting your sales targets, and your sales to date all look like they’re increasing at a sustainable, but significant pace, it’s time to scale upward. If the numbers aren’t quite there, and in fact, your employees can’t keep up with the demand, scaling down might be the necessary move.
The final word
There’s a right and wrong time for everything, even when everything seems to be going well. In the business world, it’s good to have as much control over all aspects of your business as possible, but it’s important to keep in mind that there will always be factors out of your hands.
Customers are going to be the ones to determine whether or not it’s the right time to scale, but all of these indicators should all be considered.