In this short, Chris Edwards explores how entrepreneurs can scale their business with the four pillars: strategy, operations, people and cash.
Get ready to level up your business game on Good Business! In this episode, we’ve got something a little new. This is a short by Chris in which she shares four key pillars to scaling your business. This quick and dirty low-down will explore strategy, operations, people and cash – elements that are crucial to building a successful and sustainable business. From nailing your product-market fit to developing a killer marketing strategy to hiring the right people, we explore the basics of business building.
So grab a pen and paper (you’re going to want to take notes!) and join us for some serious business talk on Good Business!
In this conversation, we learnt…
– The four key pillars to scaling your business (01:31 – 2:40)
– Strategy: Product-market fit (2:40-05:24)
– Marketing strategy (05:24-08:46)
– Operations (08:46-9:50)
– People (9:50-11:49)
– Cash (11:49- 13:11)
“To scale your business, there are four things that you need to focus on: strategy, operations, cash, and people.” (2:34)
A lot of new entrepreneurs are able to start a business and make a bit of profit but then get stuck on scaling it. How can they actually turn this into a business that can sustain them and give them a really decent salary that can pay for kids’ school fees and make them financially independent and all those wonderful things? These are Chris’ four key components.
“Strategy for me comes down to first really making sure that you are solving a real problem.” (2:45)
The first step of scaling your business is product-market fit. This means solving a real problem that you are very clear about and being different to the competition. This is one of the hardest things to get right but a lot of people miss this step. Be sure to clearly articulate your problem and your corresponding solution.
“I always say, do less, but do it really, really well. So focus on just three pillars of marketing.” (6:05)
There are over 17 different marketing tools available, but instead of getting overwhelmed it’s recommended to start with three. For example at Honeycombers, Chris focused primarily on email marketing and SEO, to begin with. As the business grew and revenue increased, she was able to expand marketing.
“Where do you want this business to be in 10 years? Put a number on it.” (6:50)
What is your “BHAG” – big, hairy, audacious goal? Think about a number to aim towards – be it customers or revenue or even the number of employees. But it is something to work backwards from. And if you are a service provider (for example a business coach), how can you serve more clients than just one-on-one?. Can you do group coaching, e-courses or speaking engagements etc.? How can you ensure your business is scalable?
“The operations piece is really about establishing systems and processes and healthy internal habits. That means that you’re creating a machine that can function and ideally, it can function without you in it.” (9:01)
If you were to go on leave, could the business function without you? For example, for Honeycombers, Chris was able to hire a general manager by the eighth year which allowed her to step out of the business. She had a team managing the writing, marketing, finances, HR etc., and therefore the systems and processes were in place. They were able to generate a profit with her in it.
“I think it takes a real village to grow a business” (10:10)
When thinking about growing your company, it’s not just about looking for employees. It’s ensuring that you’re surrounded by the type of people who align with your values and mission. This of course could be employees but also friends, mentors, interns and contractors. And that first hire is going to make a huge difference because work can happen when you’re not there. And, your overall productivity can increase by 100%.
“If you had an unlimited budget, what would you do?” (11:50)
When it comes to cash, it is also helpful to think about what you could do with an unlimited budget and then work backwards. Map your ideal plan which is in line with your goals and strategy, and then find the cash. Can you do it yourself or find affordable support? Or you can look at raising funds – be it investors, grants or government funding.
Chris Edwards (00:03)
Welcome to Good business, a weekly podcast to help you create a business that is good for people, planet and profit line. I’m Chris Edwards, I’m a serial entrepreneur. I created my first business honey comas when I was at the tender age of 28. And that business is a lifestyle guide to Singapore, Hong Kong and Bali, and now employs over 30 people across four countries. Last year, I founded a new business called Launchpad, which is a community movement designed to support entrepreneurs who aspire to create conscious companies. Launchpad has members across six countries and runs around about 30 events. Every month, we run masterclasses coaching and connection calls, as well as peer group sessions. On this podcast, we’re going to explore the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial ride and understand how successful and clever innovators and business leaders bring people, planet and profit line together to build better businesses. What does it really take to create a Heartland business? Join me and together, we’re going to find out. Before I get into it, I want to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land that I’m recording this podcast on Bundjalung country. I pay my respects to the elders past and present. And I extend my respects to all traditional cultures. Okay, let’s get into it.
Chris Edwards (01:31)
So we have a bit of a special episode for you today. This is the first of our How to episodes. And what I want to do is just talk about how to scale your business. It’s a really big topic. And it’s one that’s come up quite a lot recently at launchpad. And I feel like a lot of people create a business, it goes pretty well. They make a little bit of profit, and then they kind of get stuck on this, how do I scale this? How do I actually turn this into a business that can sustain me and give me a really decent salary and pay for kids’ school fees and make me financially independent and all those wonderful things. And I thought it would be helpful if I just did a quick episode on what I think you need to do to scale your business. So to scale your business, there are four things that you need to focus on. The first two are the biggest and the hardest to. So the four things are strategy, operations, cash, and people.
Chris Edwards (02:40)
So the first one being strategy, I’m going to break it into two parts. So strategy for me comes down to first, really making sure that you are solving a real problem. And it’s something that you are really clear about what you’re solving. And you’re different to your competitors in how you solve it. So this is I suppose the fundamental of your business. And another word for this is product market fit. So this is the hardest thing to get right. But if you get this right, then everything else that comes afterwards is easier. So do not skip this step, spend a lot of time thinking about what problem am I trying to solve. And really clearly articulating that problem, I want to give you an example, at Launchpad our community for entrepreneurs, we could be in the business to help small businesses grow their business more successfully. But because I know that the problem that we’re trying to solve really deeply, I actually really spend a lot of time talking about the problem that we’re trying to solve is to help entrepreneurs really get through the hardship and the loneliness, and the real challenge of growing your own business. So I’m using words that indicate I know this problem very well. And I can articulate the emotions that come with this problem. So it is deeply lonely and challenging and frustrating when you are starting your own business. And it’s hard to find the right resources or to find mentors or even surround yourself with other entrepreneurs that are going through the same journey that you can bounce ideas off of. And that’s the problem we’re trying to solve with Launchpad. So getting that positioning, or that product market fit right is really the fundamental in the first thing you have to do before you can think about scaling. And if you have listened to the episode eight with Debbie walkins of Lucy she talks beautifully about this product market fit and getting really clear on making sure that you don’t run away with this solution, which is the next part of the strategy, like the marketing, but you actually really focus deeply on the product and getting the product right and the language around the product. Right. So that takes a lot of deep listening research. Tony Tan also talked about this in his interview, like really doing a lot of work on understanding the problem first. So that’s the first part of the strategy.
Chris Edwards (05:24)
Then the second part of the strategy for scaling is a really big marketing piece. So there are so many ways you can market your business. And we recently had Marcus Ho come in and do a masterclass at Launchpad. And he listed 17 different marketing tools. So there’s so many things you can do. But I really liked his recommendation, which was to choose three. So you know, for example, again, about Launchpad. So what we’re doing for our marketing is we’re focusing on in-person events, we’re focusing on social media, we’re focusing on SEO, we’re focusing on word of mouth and lead nurturing. So we’ve actually got five, and podcast six, but you know, it’s a bit different for us, because we are a part of Honeycombers and we’re an established business, and we have resources. So when I started honeycombers I really only focused on email marketing, and SEO. So I just did two, and I always say, do less, but do them really, really well. So focus on just three, three pillars of marketing, that is going to be how you’re going to really get the demand for your product. So to scale your business, you really need to generate a lot of demand for your product. And you need to have a product that multiple people can buy. So if you’re a coach, and you’re doing one on one coaching, that product isn’t really scalable. And if you’re hand making jewellery and you’re making all the jewellery yourself, again, that product is not really scalable, you really need to think about what is your goal? Like? What is your big, hairy, audacious goal? Where do you want this business to be in 10 years, put a number on it. I mean, even in five years, put a number on it, even in one year, put a number on it, it could be the number of customers, or it could be the revenue, it doesn’t really matter, but set yourself a goal. And if you’re in the jewellery business, and your goal is to make half a million dollars by year three, then you need to think about how am I going to produce enough of this jewellery or if you’re a business coach, and your goal is to hit you know, more than 300,000 by year three, then you need to think about how can I service more clients than just one on one? Can I do group coaching? Could I do an e-course? Could I do a mastermind group? Could I do a membership? Could I write a book, could I do speaking engagements, you need to think about how you can serve enough customers with your product. So you need to make sure your product is scalable. So that’s the big strategy piece. And I’ve spoken about that really quickly. I feel like I could do another how to just on your product strategy. But once you’ve got your product and marketing strategy, then the next piece of the puzzle is the operations.
Chris Edwards (08:46)
So I always think of the operations piece as a good problem to have, because it means once you start thinking, how am I going to service all these clients, you’ve got clients coming in the door. But so the operations piece is really about establishing systems and processes and healthy internal habits. That means that you’re creating a machine that can function and ideally, it can function without you in it. So I can go on leave, I can not do anything. And honeycombers and the business will continue to operate without me. I mean, it’s an established 15 year old business, but it probably took I think it was by year eight, I was actually able to hire a GM and step out of the business. And that’s because we had people making the product, we had people reporting on the product, we had a team managing the finances, we had someone on HR. so we had these systems and processes in place. I was able to have a business that can generate profit without me in it. So that is really thinking about once I have everyone signed up to this mastermind or once I’ve sold 500 pieces of jewellery, and I can’t pack it myself, who would pack it? Or how would I get this product to market. So that’s your operations piece. And then the last two pieces of scaling is people and cash. So when it comes to people, it’s really fundamental to have the right people around you. I think it takes a real village to grow a business, and they don’t need to be employees. But you need to have people around you that are a great resource. It could be friends, it could be interns, it could be contractors. But I do think once you actually can afford to employ someone, your business is going to grow exponentially. That first employee, that first hire is just going to make such an amazing difference, because work is going to happen when you’re not there. And so all of a sudden, you’re actually producing work or servicing clients without having to do it all yourself. So that’s a really amazing feeling. And when you hire one person, of course, your productivity should increase by 100%. Right. So you know, that impact is huge in the beginning. So I definitely think you do need to be brave and invest in really great people. And they don’t necessarily need to be expensive people, they just need to be people that really understand your business and your mission and your product and your why. And really share the same values as you so that you have this wonderful sense of trust that if you’re out there, and they need to make a decision, they’re going to make the right one most of the time because they’ve got the same values, and they’ve got the same mission. But yeah, finding great people is a really big piece of the puzzle to scaling.
Chris Edwards (11:49)
And then finally the cash piece. So I often think about cash by saying, if you had an unlimited budget, what would you do? And then you can kind of think about oh, I’d hire influencers, or I’d hire a social media manager would like map out your ideal strategy. And then you think about, okay, can I do this myself? Or is this? Is there an affordable way to do this? Or do I actually really need to go out and fundraise and get the cash or get a grant or get some kind of cash injection to help me grow faster, and also achieve my goals. So that’s a really quick 10 minute summary of how to scale your business. I feel like I could do a how to deep dive into each and every one of those. But I feel like this has been a really big topic at Launchpad recently, a lot of people have been saying, I just want to scale. So it is complex. But if you think about it in those buckets, strategy, being the biggest piece of the puzzle, getting your product and your positioning, right, and then your marketing strategy, right. And then your operations, then your people and then your cash and just you can write those four things down on a page, and think about where do I need to focus right now to move the needle.
Chris Edwards (13:11)
And the other thing I would say is, it’s hard. And it’s going to take hustle, and it’s going to take commitment. And it’s you’re gonna need to work on this every day. Rome wasn’t built in a day. And this is definitely not easy. But if you’re passionate, and you have a really strong why or belief in what you’re doing, it is possible, but you need to be incredibly focused. And you need to surround yourself with good people, and test and listen and continually learn. So I hope that little how to was useful if you found it useful.
Chris Edwards (13:53)
And if you liked this how to episode, let me know DM me on Instagram, or ping me at the launchpad group. I’d love to hear whether you found this how to Episode A refreshing little break from my interviews, and you can let me know what you’d like me to go deep on for my next tattoo. I hope you found it useful. Please reach out. I’d love to hear from you. And I look forward to following all your journeys and seeing you all grow great businesses. Thank you for listening to good business. Okay, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. Selfishly, I created this podcast for my own personal growth. So I could go deep with entrepreneurs that truly inspire me. Of course, I also wanted a wider listenership to think about having impact and our wonderful community at Launchpad, where we’re all aspiring to create better businesses together. If you have enjoyed this episode, I’d love you to leave a review, or perhaps share this podcast episode with a friend. That’s how podcast episodes get discovered. And I would love Have more entrepreneurs to think more deeply about their business and about creating a Heartland business with a bigger impact than just profit. And I’m sure you would too. So go ahead and post something on LinkedIn or Instagram or Facebook and spread the word I will be forever grateful. Thanks again for listening and I hope that you feel as inspired as I am to create your own good business.