The Importance of Scaling – Part 1 of 3

(This is part one of a three part series of articles examining the importance of scaling all aspects of your growing business. Part two and three can be found here: The Importance of Scaling – Part 2 of 3: People and Culture, The Importance of Scaling – Part 3 of 3: External Partners and Communication)

While many organizations experience success and growth quickly, few are able to sustain it over time. Immediate success brings new and different challenges: shift in the competitive landscape; increased back-office responsibilities; aggressive business development capture requirements; increased focus on profitability. Small businesses previously accustomed to filling smaller-scale, specialty roles as a supporting teammate, now find themselves leading large-scale pursuits and opportunities that require significant organizational change. You must redefine your value in your company’s new role, shifting attention to areas you may have previously relied on large teammates to provide and ramping up internal operations to support these larger efforts.

Ultimately, the ability to compete, hinges on your ability to scale the core aspects of your business to meet these new demands. In this three part series on Scaling, we consider a number of contributing factors to success at scale, starting first with Planning and Focus.

Planning

If there is one universal component to successfully scaling a business, it may very well be planning. Without proper planning and preparation, no business will scale successfully. In their “How To Scale Your Small Business” article [1], @SinglePlatform accurately speaks to this point further, “Scaling your business is all about thinking ahead…while part of your brain needs to focus on the short-term strategic and tactical needs for your business, the larger part should be thinking about the long game”. As your company grows, engaging in those strategic planning and visioning sessions that help define the roadmap for where you want your organization to be takes on additional importance and criticality.

At TeraThink, our planning efforts spanned all aspects of our business including: enhancing and refining our back-office roles and responsibilities; internal systems modernization; developing our strategic plan for business development and organic growth. We also recognized the need to handle the increased level of administrative and financial activity that accompanied our larger programs and efforts. As a result, we planned for and implemented a number of enhancements to our supporting tools and infrastructure to automate and streamline key processes around resource management, opportunity tracking, and financial management and compliance. Finally, we executed a series of planning sessions to refine our service offerings and reinforce our go to market strategy. These planning efforts improved our ability to effectively respond to opportunities and operations challenges as they arose.

Ultimately, if you don’t dedicate time to adequately plan for your growth, your company runs the risk of shrinking back down to size.

Focus

As your organization continues to grow, it is extremely important not to lose focus on what you did that got you to this point to begin with. Companies can make the mistake of hastily expanding the services they bring to the marketplace, in an ill attempt to keep pace with the competitors offering those same services. This can detract from the core capabilities of the business, adversely affecting the areas that have historically provided the lion’s share of the company’s success.

In “How to Prepare your Business to Graduate from the 8a Program” [2], @caronbeesley takes this even further and advises companies to narrow their focus with growth. Speaking specifically to government contracting, she suggests, “You can’t take on the whole government. Identify specific agencies, sub-agencies or departments. If you’ve already done business with a certain agency, look for ways to repeat that success.” Again, doing what you did that got you here and doing it the best you can is what will most likely lead to your continued success.

At TeraThink we purposely narrowed our service offerings into 3 primary solution areas and refined our focus around 5 core vertical markets to allow us to organize and prioritize where our time and effort is spent. This eliminated a number of non-value and unnecessary cycles for our teams, and allowed us to concentrate our efforts in those solution areas we best support and where our customers needed us most.   As a result, it allowed us to build stronger client relationships, allowing a level of specialization that would have otherwise been unattainable.

Not only will you find that having a more strategic focus will allow your company to avoid fruitless pursuits that will stretch your resources too thin, it also prioritizes your organization’s core competencies, which will allow you to continue to delight your customers while further distinguishing you from your competition.

Summary

Dealing with the changes resulting from your organizations growth and success is certainly a good problem to have. Your ability to scale your company successfully will hinge on all of the above factors, although certainly these are just some from a list of many. What other considerations should be taken when your company scales? We invite you to join our discussion and share your ideas, thoughts, and strategies.

[1] http://www.singleplatform.com/blog/2014/06/02/scale-small-business

[2] https://www.sba.gov/blogs/how-prepare-your-business-graduate-8a-program

[Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on the blog of Dominion Consulting. On November 1, 2017, Dominion Consulting merged with TeraThink and are now operating jointly as TeraThink. All blog posts migrated from the Dominion Consulting website have been updated to refer to ourselves as TeraThink.]