April

6th

2017

How to scale up your business when it’s just you

By

You’re currently such a big part of your business, it’s hard to visualise how that’s ever going to change. After all, you are your business. Your clients buy into you, your skills and qualities, and the personal service you deliver. So what’s the best way to scale up the business for growth?

As a sole trader or owner-director of a service business, relinquishing control can be hard to do, but acknowledging the need to do it is the most difficult step.

The sole trader’s dilemma

Your name is known throughout your sector as the specialist in your field. You’re the font of all knowledge and clients only want to deal with you. It’s a profitable situation to find oneself in, yet always limited by the time you have. When you scale up and introduce new staff or subcontractors, maintaining that reputation and value whilst you remove yourself from those working relationships is key.

Here are our scale up suggestions

Outsourcing

Investing in the services of a virtual assistant or specialist could free up your time to develop your business. Straightforward tasks such as bookkeeping, diary and social media management can all be outsourced to a third party. You’ll gain a surprising amount of time for strategic thinking, a key to the scale up plans.

Hire an apprentice or assistant

Taking on additional resource is a big step and an additional overhead. The beauty of recruiting an apprentice is that you can mould them to do the job as you would yourself. You can train up your apprentice or assistant to deliver the same customer service and standard of work as you do. It may take time to train them up and pass on your knowledge, but to scale up through recruitment could be just what you need to build value in your business. Plumbers, IT specialists, estate agents and mechanics, to name but a few, take note!

Turn your service into a product

Allow your business to grow when you’re not working in it by turning your service into a product. Recurring revenue streams are an ideal way to reach new customers and improve cash flow. For example, a window fitter can offer an annual maintenance service to be carried out by their (expertly-trained) apprentice. A mobile care assistant could create an online training package for purchase and download.

Seek the advice of an expert

If you find the thought of scaling up your business daunting, consulting a business broker like Uscita could be the support you need. We’ll help you to understand the value of your business and how to increase it, making the best use of your resources along the way. As you achieve the growth you’re looking for, we can also help you find a buyer that matches your culture and ambition.

How long will it take to scale up?

In our experience, scaling up a service business requires a minimum of 12 months to start seeing tangible results. It takes time to plan, take action and generate growth. Ideally, a period of two years will allow sufficient time to prove your developing business model and the improved profitability of the results.

Our advice to any sole traders or owner-directors looking to scale up is ‘always start with the small stuff’. Making small and simple changes can be the catalyst to build value, step away and at some stage, pass your business on to its next caring and responsible owner. To explore this topic further, download our free brochure here.