Scaling sales online is an obvious objective for any ecommerce brand, but the process can take time and so understanding the stages can be a great advantage when planning. On the contrary, going in blind can be problematic which will only worsen and force us to backtrack to resolve those engrained issues. Understanding the startup growth process can help us anticipate potential issues and find practical ways to build real value.
Although building a successful business can be challenging, new scalable startups are now easier than ever to set up with the help of ecommerce and digital marketing. While the process can be complex, it is perfectly doable. This article discusses startup growth strategy and common issues we encounter when attempting to scale our operations.
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What does scaling mean?
Scaling is the process of optimizing and reiterating your working systems to facilitate larger audiences. It involves all parts of your business from your product, marketing, to your infrastructure. There are several types of startup growth strategies that rely on the amount of capital you have available. Factors like experience can improve the rate of growth and resources needed to scale a business. In simple terms, preparation, data and rigid cash flow are key for a scalable startup.
As you will read below, establishing a proof of concept is essential for any business to build a strong foundation. However it would be a mistake to presume that the product is all that is required to build a business. Integral to any project regardless of product, is the working process, which is more about optimization. Quality of implementation is always going to be your guiding light, which if understood, forces us to look at our previous works and reconstruct our approach. Every article on scaling sales or operations will lay a foundation and try to anticipate the stages or issues, but the key is internal drive. You must be the difference, and only you can be the force behind growth.
Example: With the emergence of Artificial Intelligence, we have access to tools that can speed up our output. It can also unburden our resources, allowing us to allocate those resources towards other central components of our marketing or sales.
Growth vs Scale
Growth and scale are both desirable outcomes, but they are fundamentally different. Scale refers to the operational capabilities and infrastructure of a business, often referring to intrinsic value integrated to meet consumer demand. On the contrary, growth is an indicator of strong demand linked to key performance indicators, growth is considered cause for operational expansion. We consider growth as a precursor for scaling operations.
Rules for Creating Value:
- You have ingrained issues: Perfection is impossible because it is always changing. The best plans are reliable in the long-term, and the odds are that you have made numerous mistakes in the past.
- You need to backtrack: In order to resolve issues that you’ve committed in the past requires deep diving and focus. You will have to resolve these issues in order to create value. What is the weak link in your organizational systems?
- There is always better: The pursuit for success usually relies on improving existing systems, but leaving room for growth is part of that very same pursuit. It is when we realize that any changes will disrupt our output that we can move onto our next challenge.
- Remember your goal: We tend to forget that everything is tied to financial value, meaning that we need to see a clear reason for a project. And the end result must result in real impact.
- Information is valuable: During the conceptualization stage, we require reliable information to base our ideas on. Data and customer information is a solid starting point, but nothing can replace expertise.
Core Startup Growth Stages:
This section represents the numerous stages of scaling a business. They are ordered so that the process is clearly understood, leading you from the initial steps to global expansion. You will find tips on what sort of actions you would need to implement aswell.
- Minimum Viable Product: There is no real growth without proof of concept. Before we can proceed to any later stage, we are required to validate our product by establishing market fit. A minimum viable product is a term used to describe a product that has a proven sales record and is intended to further develop. This concept of MVP is tied to product growth and its many stages of development.
- Growth and Expansion: Once you begin gaining traction and you find validating in your product, the next stage involves scaling up your sales to attract a larger customer base. Amongst possible options you may decide to expand your product catalog, launch new product lines, or reach out to wider audiences through digital marketing social media or SEO.
- Infrastructure and Operational Capacity: As your product proliferates and you begin to generate cash flow, you should look towards strengthening your infrastructure to expand your operational capabilities. Common goals at this stage include; new scalable technologies, secure server capacities, and robust order management systems. You should also look towards team management and enhanced coordination between departments.
- Talent Acquisition: As operational needs grow, so does your need for motivated talent to fill important roles like; marketing, customer service, product development and operations. We are reliant on skilled workers to drive our strategic goals and developing their abilities feeds back into your business. An investment into talented people is an investment into your company’s future.
- Marketing and Branding: At this stage, and when all previous stages are secure, we can begin working on our brand and market presence. It is here that our priorities shift towards cultivating market presence with strategic marketing, content creation, and social media engagement. We aspire to create brand awareness and customer loyalty.
- Customer Retention and Loyalty: An important stage in the scaling process for any business is establishing lasting relationships with customers. Customer retention is crucial for any business as a long-term goal. A few options of creating loyalty include; loyalty programs, personalization, and excellent customer service. Customer advocacy is an important marker for when we can call our services a true success.
- International Expansion: Loyal customers is an indicator of strong demand and cause for international expansion. As another major step in the scaling process, adapting your business model to suit different markets is a source of great value. Remember that complying with local regulations, addressing cultural and linguistic differences is a must. Remember also that shipping and logistics need to be arranged for the various countries you intend to target.
- Partners and Acquisitions: When your business reaches a greater size and maturity, it may become more economical to partner with other businesses or acquire for accelerated growth. These two options can be a quick way to absorb valuable assets that can expand your customer base, products and market reach.
- Continuous Adaptation: Scaling is a continuous process that requires change, while remaining rigid can often be a disadvantage for a growing business. As markets change and demand shifts, we are required to adapt to meet customer preferences. We can stay ahead of the curve by tracking industry trends, leveraging new technologies and seeking feedback from customers. We can find new life by learning from demand and meeting expectations.
Startup growth strategy involves a multistage journey that starts from basic market fit to more complex stages like internationalization. By observing the individual stages carefully, we gain valuable insight into the scaling process which helps you also establish sustainable goals. Ecommerce is inherently a dynamic environment with its own unique challenges that requires us to focus on customer needs and adapt to demand. But in the end your efforts will be worthwhile, because ecommerce is quickly becoming a powerhouse industry and you are perfectly positioned to ride the wave.
Common Pitfalls of Scaling your Ecommerce Business
Although scaling your business may seem like an exciting idea, there are a fair share of challenges that could spell doom. Being aware of these potential pitfalls can help you navigate the scaling process more effectively. Here are some common pitfalls to watch out for:
- Cash Flow Issues: Overreaching can cause major cash flow issues. A business that grows too quickly without substance, will struggle with rising costs of operation, which is worsened by inability to cover expenses. We do not want to be stuck with large operational costs and disproportionate revenue levels, making it vital for use to secure our income streams.
- Inaccurate Inventory Management: Growing businesses face greater strain on inventory management systems. Stock shortages and overstocking have been known to cause lost sales and increased costs. It is essential to implement efficient inventory management systems to track stock levels accurately and avoid supply chain disruptions.
- Lack of Customer Support: With growing sales comes also increases in customer inquiries and support requests. Failing to resolve issues and meet customer demands promptly can lead to losses and dissatisfaction. Customer support is a crucial component to any business model that alleviates issues during the customer’s purchasing journey.
- Inconsistent Quality Control: Consistency is another point of concern when delivering quality which could present you with a serious challenge. Poor quality products can lead to negative reviews and damage your brand reputation. It is therefore essential to continuously monitor product quality and work closely with suppliers to maintain high standards.
- Poor Marketing Strategy: Scaling requires strategic targeting and effective communication. Dissatisfactory marketing could lead to poor brand representation, meaningless leads or no leads at all. Failing to invest in marketing and customer acquisition strategies can impede growth.
- Logistics and Fulfillment Issues: Scaling can apply a strain on your ability to fulfill product shipping. This may appear as delays in shipping and poor packaging, which can lead to dissatisfied customers. Ensuring reliable shipping can present itself as a challenge, but we can fix this by partnering with the right shipping provider. This could be a positive step towards timely delivery.
- Adapting to Market Changes: Markets are dynamic and consumer sentiment can change rapidly. If we are incapable of monitoring shifts in market trends, that can make our business outdated and force our hand. Scaling your business with agility in mind is your best hope of remaining relevant and more importantly afloat.
- Ignoring Data and Analytics: Subjective decision making can be the downfall of any scaling business. Ignoring analytics and key performance indicators can undermine areas in need of improvement and produce inaccurate decisions. Data can be a source of highly beneficial information that can focus our growth strategy.
- Insufficient Infrastructure: The process of scaling sales includes a heavier burden on your infrastructure. This increased strain can lead to slow loading times, downtime and a poor user experience. By investing in a robust hosting service and scalable technology, you are ensuring that your website can handle increase in traffic.
We need to be aware of the possible issues we may encounter when implementing our startup growth strategy. Building a scalable startup is a complex task that can be eased with preparation. Scaling sales has its unique challenges and by now you should know what to expect when building your own global brand.
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Scaling a business must be one of the most universal objectives, but with ambition comes a fair share of challenges. After reading this article you should have enough of a foundation to start the process and to understand the challenges that you would face in the future. In todays environment it is perfectly possible to jump start your startup growth strategy using ecommerce and digital marketing.
Shopify is an all-in-one ecommerce platform that helps you create your own store in a matter of days. Countless businesses have Shopify to thank for their global success. Typically ecommerce stores require servers, programers and much more to begin operations. We recommend that you utilize the most reliable and advanced platform.
This article originally appeared on Growave’s Blog.