Scaling up to the next level isn’t just a matter of spending more money on your business. In fact, sometimes, it means spending less. Nor is it spending six months in coaching, building your confidence or taking a ridiculously priced law of attraction course.
The good news about scaling is that it is just a simple, business process that any entrepreneur can put in place. If you take the time to implement these seven steps, you will bask in the knowledge that you know exactly where your business is at all times. And you’ll find that people will be attracted to your impressive powerhouse of a business.
So let’s get started with these seven powerful ways to scale your business up to the next level!
Document and Systematize Every Process
Systems might not sound sexy, but the time they save you certainly is! For any process you do more than once, whether it’s sending a welcome email or setting up a new Facebook ad, a documented system will save you time and allow you to get more done.
Why should you take time to document your business processes and procedures? For one thing, you only need to do it once. When a process or task is documented, you should never have to explain it again; never have to relearn how to do something, over and over; never drag your brand down by letting your business suffer from that real brand killer, inconsistency.
Documenting your processes and procedures allows you to:
- Simplify and standardize repetitive tasks
- Prevent miscommunication
- Streamline and free your time
- Avoid having to start over
It’s not good enough just to have your Virtual Assistant know what to do and how to do it. If she leaves or is suddenly unavailable due to illness or family emergency and she is the only one who knew how to implement what you need done, you risk not being able to efficiently tell your next VA what to do.
This may be true even if you are using a VA who has backup staff. If your VA herself hasn’t documented your system (and all the changes and tweaks you have made to it), you may still have to explain everything all over again to her staff member.
The result? You end up trying to explain a process you didn’t personally handle or taking time out of your schedule to create and give detailed instructions.
Part of streamlining your business involves making backup plans for emergencies. Most of us know to back up our websites and content. But be sure to have failsafe backup plans for your systems and procedures too. You want to be abvle to deal with emergencies and be able to instantly expand your team at any time.
Follow these two basic, but sound practices:
The rule is, document once for every new procedure, system or practice.
If you don’t already have a Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) manual, it’s a good idea to create one! This is a record of all your important business documents, preferably printed out in a binder as well as online. Some information, such as your LastPass or RoboForm master password, you won’t want to keep online. A separate page for it inside your hard-copy SOP is a perfect place to store it.
You can use your SOP to document:
- Logins and passwords
- Style guides for content and graphics
- Your branding information
- Guide sheets or specs
- Your mission statement
- File list for important files
- A copy of your Emergency Plan, in case anything happens to you
And any other core piece of documentation that might be vital for a team member or an executor to know.
If you already have significant assets or a larger or more complex business, you may want to take it one step further and create all this through Everplans, which bills itself as “a secure, digital archive of everything your loved ones will need should something happen to you”.
Make a list of every system or process you need to document. Refer to your business plan, to see if there’s any area you missed.
If you haven’t yet created a business plan, do yourself a favor, save hours of time and make that particular process painless by signing up for LivePlan.
You pay by monthly subscription. However, once you’ve made all the different types of business plans you need and helped yourself to their resources, you can store your plans there securely and set your account to go dormant for only $2.99 per month. Any time you need to rework your plans, re-instate your regular monthly rate.
Create Workflows for Hands-Free Productivity
What’s better than the copy-and-paste ease of a documented process? One that runs itself. With tools like Zapier, IFTTT, shopping carts and member sites, making sales will take almost no time at all — as long as you set them up with scale in mind from the start.
As your business grows, you will scale processes and operations to fit that growth, as well as your business budget and outsourcing needs. You need to build this in from the beginning.
You need to know where you are going, as well as where you are now, so that you can plan for it.
Here are three scaling scenarios. Only one of them is correct.
Can you guess which one is correct?
Options A and C are both classic mistakes start-up business owners make.
Option A: Going with a “free” app, piece of software or platform without considering later needs as your business grows in scale. Another fatal mistake you can make here is choosing something that won’t integrate and allow you to easily export your data to a new platform later.
Option B: This is what happens when you do your homework, plan for the future but take your current needs, skill sets and budget into account.
Option C: Spending a huge annual or monthly sum that you can’t really afford on an immense system with a myriad of features you don’t need, because the sales page convinced you it’s the best there is.
There’s nothing wrong with investing in the best, but make sure it really IS the best for your business.
- Respects and reflects the startup simplicity of the business
- Reflects planning ahead to minimize later growth
And if you choose intuitive apps and software, designed with streamlined, WYSIWYG processes, you will shave all sorts of unnecessary or repetitive steps from your workflows. It’s a great idea to create flow charts for your business processes: Ones you can print out and stick in your SOP for documentation purposes. But you really don’t want a lot of print-outs. It’s better if you choose a system that eliminates unnecessary steps and walks you and your team members through the workflow of a process.
For example, using Creately to create diagrams, mind-maps and flow charts. Your entire team can contribute to the flow chart if you simply click, “Invite Collaborator” and input your team member’s email address.
You can also get all your apps and devices “talking” to each other by using applets, which you can set up and customize using IFTTT (“if this, then that”). This service allows you to do almost anything, via its many applets you can choose from (and if you can’t find the one you want, it’s easy to make your own.) You can sync devices and platforms.
For example, you could select the app that automatically sends all your Instagrams to you in a weekly email digest or automatically send a tweet to Twitter when you create a Facebook post.
Integrating these types of smart commands into your processes can vastly improve your workflow… and ensure that no step ever gets forgotten.
Stop Being the Workaholic Who Never Leaves the Office
It’s not enough to simplify, streamline and automate. No plan for scale is complete without including the need to build a team of real, live experts whose experience and skills you can bring to your brand.
No matter how efficient your systems and automation, there are still manual processes that need to be done. If you’re stuck doing them all, you’re going to hit your limit sooner than later.
One of the flow charts you might want to start brainstorming now is who you are going to need as your business expands.
- What areas of your business will grow large enough to split into an actual department?
- What areas of your business are completely unrelated to each other?
For example, bookkeeping is a completely separate area from video production. If your bookkeeping is simple, your finance-savvy VA could do it for you; or you could literally outsource it to a bookkeeper. You can keep your videos simple by only making the odd Facebook Live video. But if you’re going to be doing heavy video teaching and presentations, you’ll need top-quality video editing, production and assistance. Video is an area that can easily expand to warrant a whole team in itself.
Things that are good to outsource include:
- Business admin tasks
- Repetitive tasks
- Areas of your business you don’t enjoy or feel unskilled in
- Behind-the-scenes processes such as mailings, uploads and customer service
- Anything that requires specialized skills you don’t have
And there’s one other often-overlooked reason to outsource: Investing money in experts to manage processes or do tasks can actually not only save, but MAKE you money.
You can be focusing on your unique skills (your real income generators that earn you your reputation) while your VA is taking care of back-end processes such as editing videos, testing webinar services, backing up your files or uploading articles into your blog for the month.
Plus, you’ll suddenly find yourself with something you’ve probably never had if you’re in the habit of trying to do everything yourself. And that something is free time. Yes, actual free time you can use for some quality self-care.
As with other areas of your business, pay attention to scaling when you plan your outsourcing.
Start by outsourcing the most troublesome area of your business or your most deadly tasks (the ones that make you procrastinate).
Answer these three core questions:
- How much do you want to earn, a year from now? Five years from now? Ten years from now?
- How large an audience do you eventually want to reach? To personally engage with?
- How big do you want (or need) your business to grow?
Once you think about your ideal lifestyle, it becomes much easier to figure out what you’re going to need to do and invest in along the way.
Don’t Rely on Hit-or-Miss Marketing Techniques
SEO and social media will bring some traffic to your site, but you can’t beat the laser-focused targeting you get with a well-planned paid advertising campaign. Don’t be afraid to invest in Facebook or Google ads. Done right, the results can have a radical effect on your bottom line.
Decide, first of all, where you want to concentrate most of your advertising. And understand exactly how ads work.
For example, Facebook ads are wonderful for growing awareness of you and your brand, but they shouldn’t be your main strategy. First, focus on providing value to all your posts and content. Help your audience, make sure you have lots of tasty resources and narrow down that audience to attract and retain potential ideal clients.
Facebook ads won’t bring you a positive ROI until you have identified the right audience and ensured your ads are targeting them. Sending out Facebook ads to a broad audience without knowing exactly who your target audience is, and how to identify them to your Facebook pixel, is a waste of your time and money and will only weaken your brand.
If you haven’t done it before, you’ll find that setting up ads in Facebook is pretty easy… providing you DO have a good idea of your target audience.
- Click on the drop-down arrow in your menu bar and select “Create Ad”.
- Follow the prompts!
It’s as simple as that to select ad types and set up a daily budget and a campaign. Facebook will walk you through each logical step.
- Provide quality content, specifically to help, interest or entertain your ideal client
- Check your Facebook Insights for concrete stats you can use when creating audience profiles
- Take time to get your Facebook Ad pixel right
- Test and track your ROI for each ad and each campaign
Finally, invest your time and money in platforms that automate testing, tracking and reporting for you. Some, like Leadpages®, even use your data themselves to help you get the best ROI on your landing and sales pages.
Providing quality content, offers, and free gifts is the core of any type of marketing strategy. So is testing and tracking afterwards, to see what worked and what didn’t.
Ditch the 1:1 Activities
Sure, you get to dig deep and make a great connection with your clients, but at what cost? Most entrepreneurs find they burn out fast if their appointment calendar gets too full. The answer? Create group programs that offer limited 1:1 time. They allow you to focus on your clients’ needs without burning out.
Many business owners have discovered the advantages of creating this awesome combination of passive income combined with limited-access one on one. Here are seven proven ways to include limited-access one-on-one time:
- Offer a one-time strategy session to help your member define her USP and audience, if you are creating any sort of marketing challenge or course.
- Offer a walk-through session halfway through any course that involves systems or technology.
- Offer a one-time wrap-up session at the end of a course or challenge, to clear up any remaining points of stress or confusion and make sure your member is set for maximum success. (Ask for a testimonial at the end of the session or point them to a survey!)
- Offer a one-on-one session as a unique and exclusive bonus only for members who join during your promotional webinar.
- Provide 1-3 sessions at a heavily-discounted rate for those who sign up for your VIP programs (or pay annually instead of monthly).
- Offer a weekly one-on-one email, in which a member can ask questions from issues that arose during the week.
- Offer a live, weekly or monthly Q&A webinar. (Use Zoom, especially if you’re interacting with a smaller, more intimate group.)
If you want to keep just a handful of especially rewarding clients to coach in person, feel free to do so. However, limiting your one-on-one coaching (especially replacing it with a weekly or monthly live, interactive webinar) is a great way not just to preserve your own health and sanity, but also allows you to serve more of your ideal audience… without burning out!
Which type of live interaction to use?
There are advantages and disadvantages to both formal webinars and Facebook Livestreams.
The real questions are:
(a) which platform do YOU feel most comfortable with and
(b) which one has more appeal to your ideal audience?
Test them both and find out!
“Kill Your Darlings”
There’s a famous quote attributed to Stephen King, who was actually quoting writer William Faulkner: “Kill all your darlings”. What he was referring to was not some torrid thriller, but to those pieces of prose that writers cling to tightly and are especially proud of, even if they don’t move the story forward.
This can be the case with your existing offers, products, content and packages. You might be really proud of them. After all, a lot of sweat and passion went into them. But if they no longer fit your business brand and goals, they need to go.
Tighten your product line so that each package or product enhances the other. And they all move your clients and customers towards that one major goal you’ve identified.
You might think that giving your clients a choice of multiple programs makes it easier to scale, but the opposite is actually true. When you’re trying to maintain, market, and sell multiple programs, you’ll quickly burn out. Instead, concentrate on one or two signature offers and put all your effort into making them the absolute best in your niche.
Another advantage to doing this: Narrowing your focus will also strengthen your brand. You do not want to be known as a Jill-of-all-trades: You want to be known for your core message and mission (your specialty).
Specializing is crucial in today’s market, where there is a glut of similar offers. So is building a list. But it needs to be a targeted, highly-responsive list. Creating a targeted, highly-focused brand message is the best way to attract the right members.
Go through your current offers/services and ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this offer tie in with my brand? Does it boost it or detract from my core message?
- Am I getting a healthy ROI on this particular offer, product or package?
- Am I generating activity and conversations with this particular offer, product or package?
- Is this particular offer, product or package too labor-intensive for me? Are there too many one-on-one activities?
- Is this particular offer, product or package displaying weak points? Does it keep people progressing through my sales funnel or do they exit here?
- Can I upscale this particular offer, product or package and replace it with something better? More high-value? With a better price point and ROI?
Even though you have done the business equivalent of killing literary darlings, you don’t have to throw out the baby with the bathwater…
Examine the offers, products and packages you are considering scrapping and see:
- Which individual parts or factors were a big success
- What people loved about them
- What questions they asked repeatedly
Then use this data and the content you’ve already created to create bigger and better offers, products or packages. Ones whose value takes you to VIP level pricing and value.
Fall in Love with the Numbers
Track everything. Know your conversion rates on your opt-in and sales pages, then split test to make improvements. Watch your email open rates and work diligently to improve them.
Don’t forget your team. If the tasks you have assigned to them aren’t earning a solid ROI, then it’s time to rethink them.
Here’s where what I mentioned earlier (favoring and using platforms that automate a lot of the tracking and reporting for you, like Leadpages) really comes in handy. Unlike many other tracking dashboards, Leadpages’ dashboard is simple, giving you only the opt-in and conversion rate stats you need, as well as the number of visitors.
If you haven’t installed Google Analytics yet and the thought of installing it intimidates you, your best strategy is most likely watching one of the many excellent Google Analytics YouTube videos on installation for beginners.
Tracking tells you who is visiting your site and which pages they viewed. It also shows you where your visitors came from. Did they arrive as the result of a Facebook ad? Organically? From a link in a blog article or Twitter tweet? Or was it that joint-venture guest interview you did last week?
Stats like these show you how your biggest and most active audience segments find you. They also show you what is converting really well, what keyword they are responding to and more. So even if you’re not ready for Leadpages yet, install Google Analytics and track at least through your social platform Insights and reports. Develop the habit of regularly reviewing your stats and considering what they are telling you.
Don’t be afraid of the numbers: They can be your best, most truthful and most faithful friends!
All the strategies I’ve mentioned in this post are not only do-able, they’re necessary.
Make a plan. Get the right help at the right time. Think of the latter as “building a team” committed to your brand, rather than merely “outsourcing one-off tasks”.
Implement systems that fit your goals and will grow with you. Focus on tracking and value, if you are ready to scale your business and take it to the next level.
What steps do you feel like you are ready to take on in order to grow your business? Have you thought about outsourcing but have no idea where to start? Feel free to leave your comments below or better yet, check out my Getting Started page.
Hi and welcome to Virtually Done. I’m Leslie and it’s a pleasure to meet you! If you are an online entrepreneur or small business owner struggling to find enough time in your day to concentrate on the tasks you are passionate about, I can help you!
If you would like to learn more, please contact me. I’d love to hear from you!