Last updated Dec 13, 2023 and written by Aditi Mohan

10 questions to ask before scaling up your small business

As a small business owner, you’ve likely poured your heart and soul into building your company from the ground up. You’ve navigated the initial challenges, secured your first clients, and maybe even turned a profit. 

Now, you find yourself at a crucial crossroads – when is the right time to scale up your small business? Scaling up before your business is ready can become a costly mistake, and leaving it too long is a missed opportunity. However, we’re here to help.

We’ve devised a ten-question guide to take you through the things to consider when it comes to growing your company. 

Looking for more advice? Our start-up has business content to help you every step of the way, from company formation advice to side hustle ideas.

1. Do you have a stable revenue stream?

Before scaling up, it’s essential to have a stable and consistent revenue stream. This means that your business is generating enough income to cover the projected operational costs and leave room for growth. While every business’s financial situation is unique, a good rule of thumb is to have at least a year of consistent revenue that exceeds your expenses. 

One way to predict if your business can afford to grow is through making financial projections. You can do this by creating a budget based on three financial outcomes: best, average and worst case. If your business is making some profit in the worst-case scenario then you can reliably scale up. 

2. Does your business have proven demand?

Scaling up means accommodating a larger customer base. Before taking the plunge, make sure there’s an increased demand for your product or service. Analyse your sales data, conduct market research, and gather feedback from customers. If demand is consistently increasing and there’s potential for further growth, it may be the right time to expand.

3. Is your business operating efficiently?

Efficiency is key to successful scaling. Your business processes should be well-established and streamlined. Evaluate your current operations to identify any bottlenecks, inefficiencies, or areas where improvements can be made. You may even think about digitalising certain processes to bring further efficiency to your day-to-day work. 

4. Is your business financially stable?

Expanding your business requires capital. You’ll need to invest in additional resources, such as equipment, staff, marketing, and possibly larger premises. Make sure your finances are healthy and that you have access to funding options if needed. Consider creating a detailed financial plan that outlines your budget and projected expenses for scaling.

5. Is your business model scalable?

Not all business models are easily scalable. Evaluate your current model to determine if it can be expanded without losing its core values or quality. If your business relies heavily on your personal involvement in day-to-day operations, you may need to delegate more tasks or hire key personnel to free up your time for strategic decisions. 

6. Do you have a skilled workforce?

As your business grows, so does the demand for skilled employees. Assess your current team’s capabilities and identify any skill gaps that need to be filled. Hiring the right people with the necessary expertise can be a game-changer for scaling your business successfully. 

7. Is your market scaling up?

Keep a close eye on your industry and market trends. Are there emerging opportunities that align with your business’s strengths? Are there gaps in the market that you can fill? Understanding your competition and staying informed about market shifts can help you make informed decisions about scaling.

 

8. Does your tech and infrastructure need scaling?

Consider your technology and infrastructure needs. Upgrading your IT systems, adopting new software, or expanding your online presence may be necessary to support growth. Investing in the right technology can enhance your business’s efficiency and competitiveness.

9. What are your customers saying?

Your customers are invaluable sources of information. Pay attention to their feedback and use it to tailor your products or services. Your customer may love your product/service but would like to see an additional feature added to it. Building strong customer relationships and fostering loyalty will be essential as you scale, as satisfied customers can become advocates for your brand.

10. Have you got a strategy in place?

Scaling without a well-defined growth strategy can be risky. Create a comprehensive plan that outlines your goals, target markets, marketing strategies, and financial projections. A clear strategy will guide your expansion efforts and help you stay on track.

Scaling up your small business is an exciting and rewarding endeavour, but timing is crucial. Assessing factors like revenue stability, demand, operational efficiency, financial stability, and market trends will help you determine when the right moment has arrived. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer; the ideal time to scale is unique to your business and its specific circumstances. 

With careful planning and a solid strategy, you can set your small business on the path to successful growth in the UK market.

Need more advice? Our start-up hub is full of information for enterprising business leaders.