“It takes courage to start a business, but it takes skills to scale it.”
We aren’t sure anyone ever said that, but we can credit that sentence to Filip, Gio, and their furry guest. In the latest episode of Maoio Podcast, they’ve shared the biggest mistakes people make while trying to scale a business.
The first one is surprising…
Not Having A Business Plan
You can’t scale without a plan. And don’t confuse a plan with the goal. If you say you’ll make $1,000,000 next year, you don’t have a plan. At best, you have a goal, but without a plan, it’s more realistic to call that a wish or a dream.
Yes, that’s where the difference is, yet no one is talking about that.
A plan determines your chance to reach your dreams (not just in business). Of course, there’s always a chance to be lucky and succeed without a plan, but – hope isn’t a strategy.
Imagine you’re lost in a forest and want to reach the nearest village. You don’t even know where that village is, but you wish to get there. Now imagine how mama bear uses you to teach her cubs how to hunt. With nothing more than a wish, you won’t get very far.
Now imagine you’re lost in a forest, and you know where the nearest village is. Now you have a goal. At least you have a direction, so you keep moving in that direction, hoping to see little red roofs in the distance. But not so fast! Out of nowhere, a mama bear comes and feeds you to her cubs.
Now, imagine (you won’t become a meal in this story, we promise)…
Imagine you’re in a forest…
You know where you want to go and have a map and a compass. This time you aren’t lost. This time you’re walking in the forest, admiring its beauty. And this time, you know exactly where you are, where you are headed, and how to get there.
But that still doesn’t mean you have a business plan. Why? Because there’s a massive carnivore looking for the next meal for her cubs in the forest. And you’ve heard there are some wolves in the area. However, you’ve talked to an experienced hunter the night before, so he marked where the bears and wolves usually hunt.
Now you have a plan.
You know where you are, where you’re headed, and the exact path to follow, and you’re aware of all the potential dangers.
That’s the only way to escape the forest alive… Sorry, to scale a business.
“But Didn’t We Make a Business Plan, Like, 12 Years Ago?”
We guess that we need to go back to the forest.
Imagine it’s been 12 years since you visited it. Does everything look the same? Of course, it doesn’t. There are new trees, new beasts, new opportunities… The map you had years ago is nothing more than a piece of paper.
As Gio said, many people have a business plan when they start a business. But once they gain stability, they stop planning. Then they either stagnate and become satisfied with that or make ad hoc business decisions. And such decisions usually aren’t wise.
So remember that everything changes except the fact that you need a business plan to scale a business.
Shotgun Approach (Especially in Internalization)
How about another trip to the forest? What? It’s Saturday, the day to spend in nature.
Don’t be scared. There are no hungry mama bears in this forest… We promise.
So you and your friend are lost in a forest, and you want to escape it unharmed. But you’ve heard there are five beautiful villages near your location. And you have a map. So reaching those villages shouldn’t be that difficult.
Yet you can’t decide which village to visit first. You start walking in one direction. After a couple of miles, you agree that you should try to reach another village. You turn around and start walking toward your new destination.
Or even worse, you and your friend decide it’d be best if each of you goes to a different village. That’d allow you to pick the best from both places. So you start walking in 2 different directions.
34 years later…
“Two bodies found in the woods and. Apparently, they’ve been there for decades. Bones show some bite marks!”
Yes, of course, that’s you and your friend. Still, the newspaper didn’t mention that your business died with you in that forest. Yes, this mistake is so dangerous that it leads whole teams and companies to extinction.
As Filip said, the shotgun approach is perfect for getting frustrated without seeing solid results. If it sounds realistic that you could spread in many different directions simultaneously, think twice about it.
Companies want a taste of lucrative markets, so they spread themselves too thin to cover everything.
There are 3 possible scenarios:
- you have a bulletproof business plan and an abundance of resources
- you don’t have a plan; you’re just hassling
- you have a bulletproof business plan, but limited resources
Unless you’ve recognized yourself in the first bullet, we advise you to pick one direction rather than many.
Without a plan… Do we need to remind you how sharp baby bear teeth are?
With a plan and without (more than) enough resources, you’ll either:
- fail miserably in every direction while making your team hate you and clients talk bad about you behind your back
- have an illusion of success in a couple of markets (countries), but the quality of your work will suffer
And as Filip said, the shotgun approach is even more dangerous if you want to internationalize your business because it requires even more people, money, and attention. Each market is different, so if you approach them all like they’re the same, you won’t get the best possible results.
Thousands of businesses go bankrupt because they want too much too soon in too many places. But Gio had a perfect metaphor…
To scale a business, you should act like a sniper, not a shotgun. With the shotgun approach, you shoot and pray that you hit. But if you have a laser-like focus, you can aim at whatever you want. That’s the best strategy to scale a business.
The best scaling strategy is to have someone experienced by your side to help you. That’s the way to scale an eCommerce business in 3 months. However, you can still reach the same results on your own with a solid plan, realistic wishes, and expectations.
Expecting Immediate Results
The best way to get frustrated is to decide to scale your business and expect to see a couple of millions more in your bank account every time you check it.
You can’t expect quick wins unless you have plenty of resources (a great team and a humongous marketing budget). At least not big ones.
Understandably, many business owners feel like scaling should be easy because everything is so simple nowadays.
Do you want a cab? There’s an app for that.
Do you want to learn how to sell your expertise instead of your time? There’s a workshop.
You don’t want to cook, but you want to eat something tasty on your couch? Just order something!
But why can’t a business order a scaling, sit back, and get results in less than 30 minutes or their money back?
Because business is a living being and quality growth needs time. Of course, there are more reasons businesses can’t scale, but impatience certainly doesn’t help.
The Power Of Delegation
Another mistake business owners make that prevents them from scaling is a lack of delegation. No matter how skilled a person is, they’re still A person. We understand that business owners do a lot but can’t do everything.
Even if someone is an expert in every aspect of business, they should still gather a team of experts. Trying to do everything alone (or with fewer people than needed) leads to desperation and burning out without ever tasting real success.
That’s why it’s always best to focus on your strengths and hire people who are experts in their areas to help you. Gio has helped many businesses scale, so he’s familiar with a misconception many business owners share.
“No one can do it on my level.”
Wouldn’t you love to scale your business with the help of someone below your skill level than struggle to do it alone? Common sense, right?
Yet thousands, probably millions, of companies never reach the stars just because the insecurity and pride of their owners keep them anchored forever. If you have a business, don’t be like that.
Remember, the laser-like focus is everything.
You should focus on your strengths and let others help you in areas they’ve mastered.
Hire someone if you’re great at providing your service but not so much at marketing. Struggling to balance your work (something you like and want to do) with marketing (something you don’t want to do, but you have to) will drain you.
Instead of spreading yourself too thin, use services such as Maoio Marketing Takeover to grow while you focus on your work, not promoting it.
CEOs Are Good Builders But Aren’t Enough
This is a scaling mistake many CEOs make. It’s similar to the previous one. They start a business, build it, and feel like they must be involved in everything.
And that’s not good for them or their companies.
It’s impossible to have a work-life balance in such situations, and it’s nearly impossible to scale a business that way. Remember, no matter how amazing you are, you can’t do everything alone.
That kills productivity.
That’s the recipe for feeling like you’re working around the clock without seeing desired results.
Instead, focus on networking efficiently to meet people who can help you scale.