In the fast-paced world of entrepreneurs, “scale” is one buzz worthy word of the moment. Moving from a being a “solopreneur” to successfully scaling up your business can be downright daunting, even scary. Everyone dreams of scaling their business. But, all too many solopreneurs miss the mark, mysteriously falling short of bursting out through survival and leveling up in a way that only the most savvy, successful entrepreneurs have mastered.
Take heart — to cross the emotional and practical chasm to increased scale is challenging, and while it will be scary, it does not have to be mysterious. To prove the point, here are actionable tips, quotes and links to video interviews with some of today’s top-earning entrepreneurs who have agreed to share some of the secrets of how they’ve successfully scaled. These real-world experts have all navigated the transition from individual entrepreneurship to enterprise builders who have increased their size, reach and revenues exponentially, while also carefully managing their cost of doing business.
Related: The Entrepreneur Lives in the Back Room at a Gym While Building His Business
1. Collaborate with great minds, and be inspired.
The impressive entrepreneurial force that is CEO Allison Maslan, founder of Pinnacle Global Business Coaching and Mastermind Program, regularly hosts live events in San Diego, Calif., for established six- and seven-figure entrepreneurs. Maslan has successfully taken 10 ventures from start to seven-figure success. Her mantra could be “learn from those who have already done it.” To drive that simple point home, Maslan regularly brings together hundreds of business owners from around the globe to work out strategic roadmaps. In this video, she shares her best advice for you to breakthrough to the next level.
After studying the Zappos culture for a full term at Harvard in an organizational behavior course, I quickly learned the same material in a bit more than an hour when Maslan delivered Robert Richman, author of the Culture Blueprint and instrumental culture strategist at Zappos to her stage, live in the flesh.
“You must constantly innovate to stay at the top,” said Maslan. “Figure out where you can innovate, do differently than anyone else. Then, replicate and scale up.”
2. Be an industry icon.
You don’t need to be famous to be an industry icon. But, you do need a vehicle and a strategy to share your expertise — which often requires a leader to step into the spotlight and lead. Understanding the power of PR — and what differentiates publicity from digital marketing and paid advertising — are crucial to standing out as an industry icon in a crowded, noisy space. Don’t try to do it alone; get a communications expert to help.
Allison Margolin is a top criminal defense attorney with a boutique firm in Beverly Hills, Calif. She’s been featured and quoted in magazines ranging from the Los Angeles Times West to the New Yorker and US Weekly. In addition, she has had written for the LA Times online, LA Daily Journal and the Los Angeles Daily News. Margolin says effective PR has made her paid advertising more effective.
“There’s so much competition in the marketplace, that standing out as an authority in the media when a potential client Googles me can make all the difference," Margolin said.
3. Systemize everything you do so you can scale.
Fundamentally, the core strategy behind successful scaling is implementing systems. Digital marketer Ryan Deiss believes processes are more valuable than products, because products can come and go, but a great process can deliver value for decades.
His advice? "When something works, don't just high-five your team and move on to the next thing on your to-do list. Instead, figure out exactly what you did, step-by-step, to achieve that result. Write it down, and then try to repeat that result following your newly-created, step-by-step process. If you achieve the same result, then hand the process to someone else, and see if they also get the same result."
Deiss says that when a third party is able to use your process to get the same result, that's when you have a true process.
4. Hire forward. Be aggressive on growth. Don't settle.
It may seem scary, but hiring forward, before the demand catches up, is often the crucial action in a scale-up strategy. Or, in other words, spending to anticipate meeting demand can actually help create that demand. “If you’re only doing things that are a little bit scary, you’ve only going to have a small bit of growth,” Maslan said.
Related: 6 Ways to Hire the Talent You Need to Scale Quickly
To scale, a CEO must focus on relationship building and doing what they do well while investing their revenue into hiring and growing a team that can support them in other areas. “You cannot grow a seven-figure business if you are doing $15-20 per hour work," Maslan said. "If you are doing those tasks, you are losing money."
Popular online business coach Jenn Scalia has developed a base of raving fans and grown a million-dollar empire in less than two years. She’s quickly grown from a force of one to 15 and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. When Scalia started out, she quickly learned to outsource tasks that were not in her “zone of genius” to a virtual assistant.
“As soon as I hired my first virtual assistant, it freed up hours and hours of productive time, and I got addicted to it," Scalia said. "Within a month, I had hired another person and was amazed how much I could get done. It was key to scaling and gave me more freedom to create and focus on the things that I enjoy doing.”
In this video, Scalia talks about what she thinks has made her so successful in a short amount of time.
5. Live in your shine factor. Do what you love.
Motivational speaker and millionaire entrepreneur Michael Bernoff focuses on profit, growth, empowerment and change. He loves what he does, and he’s made a lot of money doing it. Bernoff says “if what you’re doing doesn’t turn you on, you need to turn it off.” Hear his advice.
6. Say no. Operate in your niche.
Media mogul Oprah Winfrey often points to the power of intention in business and in life. When you’re at the top of your game, lots of opportunities will come your way. Successful entrepreneurs have learned the importance of saying no to opportunities that don’t align with their vision, passion or tried and tested systems.
Vice president and CFO Bodie Campagna of Mitchell J. Architecture, Inc., has found this to be true in managing the operations of the multi-million dollar architecture firm she co-founded with her husband, Mitch. After more than 19 years in business and successfully completing more than 3,500 projects, lots of opportunities still come their way.
“There are hundreds of things I could do in a day, but to focus on what we love to do and where we can make the greatest impact, we’ve learned to say no.”
Related: How to Say 'No' Without Feeling Guilty
7. Hire a coach and find a mastermind or strategic consultant.
In business, as in life, you don’t know what you don’t know. Collaborating with great minds is foundational, but to truly scale quickly, many entrepreneurs decide to invest in a structured relationship with a coach, mastermind or strategic consultant who can guide them in the areas where they need to quickly get up to speed.
I recently received an invite to join Peter Shankman’s mastermind group, Shankminds, and have found it to be incredibly valuable. Shankminds includes a diverse range of entrepreneurs determined to pay it forward and give more than they receive. Shankman founded the popular journalist sourcing site “Help a Reporter Out” and later sold it for millions. As I launched my BETA invite-only PR academy for media training, I knew Shankman’s mastermind guidance could help me scale quickly.