How to Scale Your Small Business

Everyone wants to do their job well. But if you’re a freelancer, “solopreneur,” or managing a very small business and you do your work too well, you’re going to find that demand for your work may outstrip your ability to supply it. When that happens, you can work around the clock in order to increase your income, or face your challenge in a more sustainable way; by learning how to scale your work in a way that embraces and  enables your exponential growth.

Of course, scaling is a lot easier said than done. It can be scary to stop micromanaging every aspect of your business, or to come to grips with new leadership, strategy, marketing and management techniques. If you’re able to make the shift, though, you’ll be well-positioned to experience a whole new level of success. Here’s how to begin:

1 . Set goals

What do you want your business to look like in a year? How about five? Once you’ve figured out where you want to go, you can begin to  break down your business journey into manageable steps with measurable outcomes. Schedule these smaller goals into your calendar at regular intervals, beginning with a small task this coming week, to build momentum toward your endgame.

2. Seek advice

Finding networks, mentors and a sense of community is important. Seek out people who have experienced  the kind of success you’re aiming for, and ask them to meet you for coffee so you can ask for strategic advice.

You may be surprised at how willing people will be to help. In a video from 1994, Steve Jobs explains how he called the co-founder of Hewlett-Packard when he was just 12 years old, asking for spare parts to build a frequency counter. Not only did Bill Hewlett agree, he also offered Jobs a summer job. “Most people never pick up the phone and call,” he says. “I've never found anybody who didn't want to help me when I've asked them."

3. Figure out financing

Many budding entrepreneurs assume they’ll need outside investment in order to scale their business, but if you are trying to raise capital that way, be aware that investors can have outsized demands and are on the lookout  for high returns. Before you create a pitch deck, it’s worth taking some time to think creatively about alternative sources for cashflow—things like crowdfunding, creating new revenue streams, or pursuing bank loans. If you’re having trouble figuring out your next step, hiring a financial officer, even if it’s on a temporary basis, can help the process significantly.

4. Build a public profile

If you haven’t thought seriously about marketing yourself yet, now’s the time. On top of marketing your company or freelance practice, it’s also helpful to establish yourself as a thought leader or branded personality. Scheduling speaking appearances can always help fast-track the process, but if you’re not there yet, you still have ways to promote yourself available at the tip of your fingers. Write blog posts that explore topics you have expertise in, create vlogs or YouTube videos to introduce yourself to audiences, use Twitter as a conversational medium to connect with peers and broadcast your abilities, and if you have the funds, hire a PR agency to help you secure more traditional media coverage.

5. Staff up and delegate

Time is always a precious resource, but it becomes even more important when you are trying to scale a company. Work on automating or delegating 30% of your daily tasks so that you can focus on reaching your new goals. That may mean making your first hire, or contracting work to freelancers.

Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of dedicating yourself to hiring? Toptal is a critically-acclaimed platform that connects businesses with global software engineers, designers, and consultants who are in the top 3% of their field. You’ll be able to delegate your work without the headache of recruiting and maintaining a workforce on your own.

It can be daunting to think about scaling your business but few regret it once they’ve made the leap. Follow these steps, and you’ll be able to build your business and find success with less work over the long-term.

Want to learn more about how to manage your small business? Check out Skillshare’s classes on leadership and business development here.