How to Avoid Growing Pains When You’re Scaling a Business

Learn how to sidestep the most common mistakes

Avoiding Growing Pains: Tips and Advice for Scaling Your Business

Scaling your business can takes time, money and effort — and excellent, targeted business advice.

When you’re growing your team, finding new talent, building systems infrastructure, and maybe even moving out of the garage into a big office, a lot can go wrong. The steps for rapid but sustainable growth are intricate — and that’s not even including acquiring new customers and clients!

If your ears just perked up a little, this week’s roundup is for you. Get ready for a hand-picked roundup of expert advice on how to scale your business:

  • Takeaways from LinkedIn’s CEO and its founder on how the company achieved remarkable growth
  • Advice on scaling a service-based business, including a roadmap for how to take on more clients without burning out your team
  • Recommendations from a business coach with three decades of experiences on the tools you’ll need to make growth happen

So before you order that foosball table or sign that lease, keep reading…

How to Scale

When Jeff Weiner became CEO of LinkedIn in late 2008, he had one main mandate: scale the business. He did, going from fewer than 400 employees to more than 6,000 employees today.

In a recent interview — hosted by his LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman — and published on LinkedIn Pulse, Weiner speaks candidly about the challenges of rapidly growing a business. The resulting discussion reads like a Boy Scout manual for How to Scale.

The questions from Hoffman (and from the Stanford business school students who sat in on the interview) allow Weiner to showcase the framework he used to understand LinkedIn’s mission, realize the unique strengths and challenges LinkedIn faced, and determine what to do next.

Weiner’s advice to those looking to scale? First, codify your company’s mission. Move from “unspoken rules” to a clearly articulated mission statement and core function. Fundamentally, this is the what that you’re attempting to scale. Once that’s crystal clear, you can begin to focus on the how.

Weiner also speaks at length on Compassionate Management, a management style that he says helps “leaders coach their teams so they can lead when they’re not in the room.”

These details — as well as many other tips on handling fast-paced growth — are worth the time you’ll need to invest in reading the 3,500+ word interview, jam-packed with practical insights.

While your growth plans may be more modest at the moment, the challenges you encounter will likely be similar. Weiner and Hoffman offer excellent insight into how to manage and encourage healthy growth.

Scaling a Service-Based Business

Getting ready to expand your service-based business? Scaling it can be tricky, says Scott Gerber, founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC). Businesses that work with clients come with their own specific set of challenges as they poise to grow.

If you’re looking for tips on how to navigate growth — especially from leaders with experience in service-based startups — this is an excellent article for you. Gerber asks entrepreneurs from the YEC for their best advice on scaling service-based businesses, and presents the results in, yes, “How To Scale A Service-Based Business” for

The 9 strategies he includes address key challenges service businesses face, including:

  • Whether to outsource or hire (the advice: outsource first)
  • Growing a team that shares your values (it’s all about how — and in what — you train them)
  • Automating systems and technology to keep the workload in check as your business grows (be sure to check out tip #9 on choosing good software — or building your own)

Learning how other founders and leaders have addressed the problems you face in your own business is always helpful. Gerber’s article offers thoughtful advice as you tackle the challenge of taking something good and growing it.

Practical Tools for Scaling a Business

The scaling successes — and struggles — of other businesses are helpful to learn from. But when it comes to making it happen in your own business, nothing beats practical exercises that let you harness the power of the best practices and apply them to your specific situation.

Veteran business growth coach Verne Harnish wrote the book (literally) on habits that guide entrepreneurial leaders in mastering growth (the business classic Mastering the Rockefeller Habits).

Last fall he published an award-winning manual on scaling: Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t.” In it, he draws from his three decades of advising CEOs on how to scale their ventures.

The list of accolades and awards for Scaling Up is lengthy. It won the 2015 International Book Awards for General Business, the National Indie Excellence Award for General Business, and numerous others, making it a compelling update to his earlier bestseller.

The book is organized around the four “decision areas” that every business must master in order to scale: People, Strategy, Execution, and — of course — Cash.

Along with the guidance that comes from advising over 10,000 executives, each section also contains roadmaps for you to use — worksheets, checklists and specific action steps — on how to get from strategy to action.

While it’s written for leaders and their management teams, Harnish doesn’t neglect the critical roles that others in the company play in the scaling process. So whether you’re a frontline employee, a mid-level manager, or CEO, you’re likely to find a powerful framework — and practical steps — for scaling success.

Scale Your Client Intake System

For service-based businesses, the thrill of landing a new client never gets old. But the transition from moving from wooing the prospect to getting down to work can sometimes be a rough one.

Whether it’s tracking down the right document that needs to be signed — or just feeling unsure about what’s supposed to happen next — having an ad-hoc process means that things can fall through the cracks.

It also doesn’t scale.

But a streamlined, systematized intake process is like an onboarding roadmap for new clients. It enables you to scale your business, empowering your team to take on more clients and gracefully meet demand without breaking the bank (or breaking down).

How can you create a system like this of your own? You’ll find all the steps right here in Redbooth’s own infographic, Create a Smart, Scalable Client Intake Process.”

It breaks down the four main steps, and includes a checklist for a Welcome Packet you can create (one that will do double-duty by both impressing your client and lightening your workload). With the infographic in hand, you’re just a team brainstorming session away from a smooth system that gets everyone smiling.