How do I scale up my business and keep quality high, when so much of the output relies on me?

Scaling up your business AND keeping the standards high!

Most of the businesses I work with often talk about ‘scaling up’ their business at some point during our conversations. Yet, when asked, few really understand what they want and mean from this and how to go about it; when either they’re delivering a lot of the outputs themselves (particularly in the early days of growing the business) and, or, how they get everybody in the organisation to deliver to the high standards and quality they want to provide and are known for in the industry.

1. Define what ‘scaling up’ means for your business

Before you start putting any bold plans in place and recruiting the next set of people in your team, it’s worth getting into the detail about what ‘scaling up’ really means for your team or business. If you want to do it successfully, what does it look like? If you’ve scaled up, what are you spending your time doing as the business leader and what are you not doing? Some questions worth thinking about to help you create your own definition of ‘scaling up’:-

  • How many more clients have you taken on? Have you kept the same number of clients and increased the value of each client or project?
  • Where are you operating? Are you in new cities, countries, offices?
  • Who else is in your team and what are their roles and priorities? Do they have expertise in a particular area?

This is the first step…get clear about what ‘scaling up’ means to you and your business. The more detailed you can be at this stage, the easiest the next steps will be.

2.    What do your priorities need to be?

If you’re going to scale up the team or business, then it’s likely you’ll need to change your focus and how you spend your time to get the business there. This is the time when you need to look at all the tasks you’re currently doing. Think about what you do day-to-day and how much time these tasks take up.

If you’re looking to take your business to the next stage and scale up successfully, then think about the 3 most important things YOU need to achieve to in the next 12 months.

Then revisit your ‘to-do’ list and highlight which ones are directly related to those most important priorities. For everything, else have a look at the following questions:

  • What tasks are you repeating over and over again?
  • What activities take you a long time to complete?
  • What task do you already know someone (or something) could do quicker or better than you?

It’s a fact as you grow – you can’t do everything!

If you try to, then you’re not going to get very far very quickly! Make decisions – what needs to be DOA: delegated, outsourced or automated….

5. Set the Standards

One of the biggest challenges when growing is ensuring delivery and standards are kept to the same high quality level you want – particularly if you’re passionate about what you do and have perfectionist traits! Whether it be a high level of client service your company always provides, the quality of a finished service/product or approach to design and delivery of presentations. Whatever these are, they will have your name and brand associated with them – so they still have to be of a standard you are happy with and proud to put your name to.

Most important step is to get clear about what these standards are. If you can do this with the team at the start, then even better –  get clear about your expectations and ensure that everybody knows.

  • What looks like great quality from your company?
  • What type of great work are you known for and do you want to be known for? TIP: If you can use examples, then even better for new team members
  • What do you expect and NOT expect? What are your NNP’s – your ‘non-negotiable points’?
  • What do you never want to accept as customer service from your company or level of quality from a finished product?

When people are clear about what’s expected of them, it becomes much easier to deliver and to do so consistently. Creating a process to deliver these standards then helps establish habits and creates norms within your team and company. As a business owner and leader, when do you get involved – at briefing stage and final sign off? Or at key points throughout a delivery process – preferably not all! Setting the ‘what’ you want delivered, but enabling people to work on the ‘how’ they create or deliver, provides them with a greater sense of ownership and empowers them to do better.

If you can be clear about when you want and need to be involved in the creation and deliver process, then the right team will deliver, helping you scale up and keep the quality high!


Are you in the process of scaling up? What would you add to this list? We’d love to hear…

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