During our recent celebration of National Entrepreneurship Week at the Oxbow Center, we featured Nicholas Sinigaglia's 7 steps for scaling your business.
This post recaps key concepts from his October 2018 webinar with Entrepreneur.com.
Nicholas Sinigaglia is the Chief Accounting Officer for OnDeck, a leading online platform for small business loans. He leads the accounting team and the specific functions of corporate accounting, SOX, technical accounting, financial reporting, and tax.
Whether you're already working to scale your operations or still in the preparation stages, the following steps can provide a framework for moving forward quickly and efficiently.
1. Really Know Your Product
Whatever you're selling is a smaller part of something bigger. Sinigaglia gives the example of a baker making a cake for a customer. Sure, the customer has requested a cake, but the cake is usually part of a more meaningful celebration of life, like a baby shower, birthday, or wedding.
By delving into some existential questions surrounding your product or service, you can begin to really understand your why and turn it into an effective marketing strategy.
What does your brand do? What opportunities does your service or product provide? What is your brand experience? What are your company's values and benefits?
2. Execute Consistently
Consistent execution means steadfast adherence to your principles and protocols. Particularly from the standpoint of customer service, consistent inconsistency is bad for business! The best way to mediate inconsistency is to frequently ask for feedback from customers (suggestion or comment cards and reviews are great), evaluate your current systems, and address any weak links.
What are the systems you need in place to execute consistently for your customers? Can your business withstand unexpected stressors? What is one targeted question you can ask at every experience rather than a lengthy survey that might not receive a response?
3. Plan For Growth
Hard work and dedication are great, but they can only get you halfway to your dream. Strategic planning and goal setting are crucial to significant strides toward success.
What's your business roadmap? Are you periodically checking in with your plan? Are you keeping your sanity trying to accomplish your current goals? (If you answered no, adjust your goals to make them more realistic and attainable.)
4. Discover Your Most Likely Customers
It can seem somewhat counterintuitive, but the broader your target audience, the less likely you are to see big conversions. This is because not everyone is looking to buy your product or service. If you know your market and hone in on specifically gaining their business, you'll begin to see your numbers skyrocket.
Who are your customers? What demographics and behaviors unite them? What does the competition look like? What sets you apart? What unique needs are you satisfying within the market?
5. Penetrate the Marketplace (Let People Know You Exist!)
This point is all about analyzing what works and what doesn't. Many businesses fall back on a marketing strategy that can be encompassed in just two words: social media. Are you actually generating engagement with customers and seeing sales rise through social media? Or is it simply the most convenient marketing option?
How are you measuring analytics and conversions? What media does your customer react most to? Are you connecting with clients and customers or simply talking at them?
6. You Can't Manage What You Can't Measure
Keep track of your business performance by identifying your key performance indicators (KPIs) and logging them on a regular basis. The five most important business metrics to record include cash flow, conversions, customer leads, sales revenue, and inventory turns. This data can help you secure financing, scale, or even sell your business.