February 3, 2020

Scaling Your Business Sustainably

Sustainable growth is one of the biggest challenges business leaders face in order to create long-term profitability and value. And while we are hearing a lot about scale these days, scale must be sustainable too.

Scale is not just about growth, but about the ability to grow without losing customers, reducing quality or changing the core values of the organisation.

Companies that are able to scale up and achieve sustainable success are those that are constantly re-examining their sense of purpose, ensuring the organisation is serving it appropriately.

Companies that can form a strong emotional bond with their customers and partners, with an emphasis on authenticity, are heading in the right direction. Understanding the importance of building your brand equity and connections with your buyers will secure and keep them coming back to you.

How important are your existing customers? According to a survey by Fastcompany.com, the likelihood of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, compared with just 5-20% for a new customer.

Moreover, businesses are four times more likely to succeed with their existing clients rather than new ones due to successful retention. A valued customer develops trust in your business and believes that you will offer the best possible service compared to competitors.

Such relationships generate profits on a larger scale because you know the more about the exact needs of your existing customers, enabling you to produce and deliver what is desired.

When people “enjoy” your brand and appreciate the things your company is able to offer, loyal customers will naturally recommend them to their friends and family, and even better, they will put in a good word for you on social media.

Your business also creates awareness through various platforms, resulting in more engagement from various sources. As a result, you can gain feedback that can be used to improve your products and services and test new initiatives.

Scaling Requires Skill

Making your product or service appealing and available to as many customers as possible is every leader’s goal. However, growth requires you to scale and acquire more customers to support your efforts.

Creating scale requires certain skills and a solid plan. According to Entrepreneur.com, many business teams have failed when trying to scale up due to insufficient planning before growth took place. Thus, it is important to have solid capacity and capabilities from the start.

Great people are the key to building and nurturing a company of any size. From technical to marketing skills, you need talented people in leading roles to cover all the necessary bases. Make your talent search global and strive to retain a diverse range of people. Diversity makes teams stronger and more adaptable to a global economy but most importantly, it allows creativity to flourish.

Employees too want opportunities to grow and evolve their own careers, and a growing company allows them to do this. According to another survey by Entrepreneur.com, 45% of those who left their jobs said they did so because they saw no room for advancement. People want to challenge themselves, cultivate their knowledge for the betterment of their futures too.

Therefore, it is vital for leaders to recognise and identify what’s needed in their workforce. Achieving scale allows leaders to offer more in terms of promotions, new project leadership positions and executive roles to expand the horizons of their people. Ensuring you are up-to-date and putting new systems in place before you start to scale is also critical, as old systems won’t cut it, especially at a time of rapid technological advancement.

Refining your processes and shifting to suit new market dynamics is an also important part of growth. But because scaling up might involve an element of uncertainty for the organisation or its people, it is your duty to plan ahead to ensure a smooth transition.

This will mean fostering a positive attitude toward change and new ways of working. If you can create a climate where people embrace new thought processes and technologies, and a willingness to look beyond their comfort zone, your journey to scale will be successful.

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC – Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center.

She can be reached by email at arinya_t@new.seasiacenter.com.

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