November 15, 2023
Broken to Better: Scaling Your Business for Sustainable Growth
In the early days of our business, my partner Kiira Belonzi and I worked together on all Branded Group operations. Kiira learned the ins and outs of payroll, we put desks together, set up IT systems, and more.
We had to figure it out. And so will you.
While piecemealing operations together is necessary in the beginning, there comes a point where you need to create systems for the future. You’ll need to create a strong operations system and continuously evaluate and improve it. This ensures you provide excellent customer service and that your team works smoothly without doing unnecessary work.
Here are some practical tips for creating scalable and efficient operations for future growth.
1. Start where you are
When we were just starting out, our goal was to get up and running as quickly as possible. We could have agonized over operational procedures and decisions, but we knew there would always be a faster, better way to get things done. We just needed to get moving.
For example, we chose our first CRM software because we had it at our previous company and knew how to use it. Starting with where you are and what you know saves time and money.
Another important lesson is never to let them see you sweat as you grow. Kiira continued to run operations, but it became increasingly difficult to manage as we grew. Kiira’s dedication to our customers kept the chaos behind the scenes from affecting our customer service, but we knew it was time to bring on additional help.
We first hired a full-time vice president of operations to take day-to-day tasks off Kiira’s plate. Then, we brought in our President and operational guru, Jon Thomas.
2. Establish procedures
Scaling your business takes constant refining and improvement. Establishing procedures early on, when you’re not putting out fires, makes the whole experience more enjoyable and even fun.
Start by envisioning future needs, such as hiring new employees. Prepare new hire checklists, look at employment laws, and create detailed how-to guides before you need them. Remember to build documents and procedures so that they work with two people or two thousand.
In growth periods, lean on your mentor and professional network. A seasoned mentor can direct you to the right people, like lawyers, CPAs, HR managers and operations specialists. These professionals are essential in lifting your venture from its startup roots to a thriving, established business.
3. Analyze your time
At Branded Group, we sell completed jobs. That means the faster we get a job done, the faster we can move on to the next. But I can’t just tell my team to move faster without giving them the tools to do so.
Jon excels in this area. He’s helped us identify key metrics to manage the business, beyond balance sheets and P&Ls.
Here are some metrics we use as a facility management company, where time is money.
- How many phone calls are people making?
- How long do calls last?
- How long does it take to process a job?
- How do you reduce the number of hands-on a project?
- How much does a job cost?
- How much time does it take to complete?
- What is the opportunity cost of one job over the other?
Since each piece of the process has a data point, we can measure and improve on it. Figuring out which metrics to measure for your business takes time and effort, but it’s well worth it.
4. Delegate and let go
This is a lesson every business owner needs to learn: Let go and trust your team to do what they do best.
I’m the vision guy. I look at the big picture and help guide the direction of the business. But my eyes glaze over when anyone starts talking about process. But Jon is into the details, and that’s something Kiira and I needed to help us expand.
Because I trust Jon and his abilities implicitly, he’s had the freedom to mold our operations to help us achieve our goals. The first thing he did for us? He asked what would make our lives easier, and that was fixing our email system. It was simple, but it was the first of many game-changing tasks Jon would tackle.
“Let go” isn’t one of our core values, but being adaptable and humble are. Each of us has to be humble enough to ask for help and give people the space to help us.
5. Never stop evolving
While the processes Kiira built initially were great and served us as we grew into a real business, we knew we had to evolve to continue to scale. When Jon came aboard, he tore apart every single process we had and started over.
Jon continuously looks for ways for Branded Group to #BeBetter from an operational perspective. As a big-picture thinker, he looks at things like trends in the industry and our processes as a whole. He’ll then dive into the details to do cost/benefit analyses and get maximum production with minimal overhead.
As hard as it is, you have to be ready to rip everything apart and start fresh. If you are not evolving, you are dying.
Sales and operations are tightly linked, and their balance is critical for business success. A great product means little if you can’t get it out the door. Alternatively, you can have stellar operational processes but a bad product. Success hinges on both working together efficiently and effectively.
Want to grow your business with efficient operations? Check out my consulting services and discover how to Be Better.
This piece is based on a chapter of Broken to Better: 13 Ways Not to Fail at Life and Leadership. The book is dedicated to business leaders who are seeking to Be Better in their company for their employees, clients and communities. Download/purchase the full book, here.