While the launch phase is all about finding out what kind of business you are and defining the market you’re trying to serve, scaling is a global game for businesses that know who their customers are and are ready to serve them.
We started out as a market stall in Daylesford where a lot of our interactions were about testing people’s responses to our product and its price point and getting a feel for what people found compelling about it. Once we started fielding enquiries about distribution further afield, however, we knew it was time to switch modes to rapid scaling.
Here are five essential elements to scale a business from local to global.
Get your numbers right
How do you know what the demand will be for your product as you expand?
I created an agreement with my solicitors using a sales formula that reflected my expectations as a wholesale distributor. Based on the sales results I was achieving on my own, I created an equation that helped me set the expected sales target based on zone and population size.
It meant we could look at a town the size of Darwin or a city as big as London and issue the right number of licences, setting accurate expectations and reasonable targets.
Set minimum order quantities
For a product-based business, this is crucial. Set minimum order quantities (MOQs) over the first three years that are fair but firm.
MOQs are realistic targets that both parties agree to — you as the distributor and them as the seller.
For example, the seller in the Victoria sales area had to sell no less than 25,000 units in its first year to keep its licence.
This also gives us an indication of probable inventory and cashflow. While it’s not set in concrete and can be negotiated annually, it gives us something measurable.
Find good people
Having someone who can manage operations is a must if you want to grow fast, so get your processes down pat and put your best people on it. I have an amazing executive assistant and right-hand woman called Cindy who steers the ship.
In general, the people I have successfully grown with are those who have come recommended to me or who I have known through my network. Knowing they are passionate or have the right attitude to get going is half the job.
It also helps if they have some skin in the game, either as a marketing fee paid upfront and/or a sizeable stock purchase upfront, which gives them a reason to kick on.
I created a series of training videos through the website Wistia.com and provide a unique access code to each of my licensees. This way I can monitor what videos (if any) they’ve viewed against their sales results.
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Each of the owners also run their own internal training and set goals for their resellers. I trust they know what works best for their area.
If someone is not working out, I prefer to give them a chance, so I work with them closely and mentor them. If, at the end of a reasonable time period, things aren’t going as well as they should, it’s time for them to move on. Cut off the deadwood early so you have room to grow.
Create a decent online presence
Having a solid online presence is a must, especially if you can sell your products online.
In the beginning, I had very little understanding of what it meant to build an online presence. Each individual area had its own online presence and Facebook profile, and then some of their resellers had another Facebook presence. It was very messy.
What I realised is we required a united front: one central website destination. In Australia, we have also made sure each state has its own curated Facebook presence and that no-one else is authorised to start their own sub-Facebook page.
What I’ve come to realise is every international market has its own nuances when it comes to search engine marketing, so each time we have entered a new market, a lot of planning has gone into making sure the digital profile is up to scratch and competitive. As a result, our sales have been growing steadily and our demographic has also broadened, which means we’re capturing more market share.
All in all, scaling rapidly requires setting up some rules to make sure everything is built according to plan. Combine the right numbers and the right people and both will work in your favour as you expand globally.