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Guest Column 6 Pro Tips to Scale Your Business

Author: Nicole Smartt
February, 2017 Issue

It's not just about being true to your word—your character drives your reputation, and your reputation impacts your growth opportunities. 

Why do so many businesses fail in the first five years, and so few succeed? Scaling your business from small upwards is a challenging and rewarding effort. Beyond having funds to pay new employees to expand your business, here are some tips to help you scale sanely. 

Stand by your word. Your integrity matters, beginning with the first day of doing business. This means not over-promising your employees, not up-selling products or services that aren’t developed yet, and holding up your end of agreements. 

It’s not just about being true to your word‑your character drives your reputation, and your reputation impacts your growth opportunities. Please don’t use Mad Men as a business model! 

Have a vision. Without vision, you may find yourself executing plans in a reactionary manner, which can throw off your business trajectory (like losing a few days’ productivity) or pull you completely off track (like having to scrap six months’ worth of company-wide work.) Your company’s vision should be big, and everyone on your executive team should eat, sleep and breathe this vision. If you don’t have a vision, get your stakeholders together and develop one. Developing a vision statement will allow you to check against your vision when you face new opportunities or challenges. 

Get your team’s input. Listen to their concerns, hopes and ideas. These people are on the ground with you, and their insight is valuable. Make them a part of the process as much as you can. Their buy-in is essential to successful growth.

Create goals for yourself every day. No matter what else you do that day fulfill that goal‑mine was to reach out to 25 different contacts in some way every day. Using this method, along with other efforts spearheaded by my team, we increased business threefold in only two years, which resulted in organic growth, with no sales representatives, landing us in the Inc. 5000 fastest-growing companies list for the last two years. 

Use social media for cost-effective marketing. Leverage your team’s itch to socialize and up your social media game and increase awareness of your company. Their buy-in must be genuine, or they might post half-heartedly or not at all. For those team members that are willing, help them help you by creating content for them to share. Think blurbs or articles, industry or general business advice, even lighthearted photos or quotes.

Showcase your people as experts in the field. Share content that will help cement your brand as effective and helpful, and your brand will become a household name. The sales will follow. Word of mouth is still the best recommendation mechanism out there. 

Appreciate, reward, and recognize. Employees are the foundation of your company. Make sure they know how much you appreciate them and the work they do for your company. Reward them in a variety of ways: sane vacation packages, the ability to specialize in their field (or additional training and education opportunities), competitive benefits packages, and team appreciation events. Don’t be afraid to ask your team what would make them feel most appreciated. Some employees might lean toward one type of benefit, while others will want something else entirely. You don’t know what inspires them if you don’t ask. 

Don’t wait for a year-end bonus to show appreciation to your employees. Make your company culture a culture of appreciation. There’s nothing worse than going to work and working hard, and having that be a grind. A bit of appreciation can lift employees out of the grind mentality quickly. 

Hire smart people and let them do their jobs. We recently opened our sixth branch in Sacramento, and hired an incredibly dynamic branch manager. She's a go-getter and holds true to our values. We told her our expectations, had her pick out the office location, furniture, structure the office set up, and made sure she was part of every conversation for that branch so she felt a sense of ownership. She’s already helping us brainstorm on the next opening in Lodi and contributing to that success, as well. 

Clients and customers need attention, personalization, and to feel appreciated, valued, and taken care of. Don't only call on them when you want business. Call them to say “hello.” Share an article that could help their business or their position. Help your clients achieve their initiatives and you'll no longer have competition. Be a strategic partner.

Nicole Smartt is co-owner and vice president of Star Staffing, with 16 years of experience in the industry. She’s a best-selling Amazon author with her first book, From Receptionist to Boss: Real-Life Advice for Getting Ahead at Work. She hosts a radio show on KSRO every Friday called Career Conversations, and has written for Forbes, The Huffington Post, Inc. Magazine, and Fox Business, among others. Learn about her work at or by calling  (707)575-5005.

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