Growing pains are a common symptom of a business that’s growing. But losing staff and customers as you grow shows a problem with scaling your business. You need to get customer acquisition, your people and your systems right, to avoid stunting your growth, says Sabri Suby, founder and Head Of Growth at King Kong.
A start-up building traction with the market is like a car changing from first gear to second – it feels like a small win to gain a little momentum. But it’s not until you try to change from second to third gear that you’ll find out whether your business is built for growth. The skill in scaling is balancing customer acquisition, your people and your systems. With these solid foundations you can then give your business all the fuel it needs to go far.
Secure consistent customer acquisition
Sales and marketing comprise the biggest percentage of the business game. Bringing on enough customers, at high enough margins, in big enough quantities, will ensure your income is somewhat predictable, which means you can afford to scale and grow.
Scale your customer acquisition and how your nurture your leads, by using a sales funnel. Instead of spending your time speaking with cold leads, begging for their attention, build a sales funnel that will nurture your potential customers until they are ready to act, so that you can focus your time on the ready-to-buy customers. At any given time, only about 3% of people are willing to buy now so your conversion rate will naturally be low. Add a high value content offer, however – for example a free eBook, webinar, cheat sheet – and those ‘not ready to buy now’ visitors become leads you can nurture. If 25% of visitors opt for the content, that gives you 8x as many warm leads at the top of your funnel that you can then guide through your sales process, which ultimately yields triplethe number of clients.
The other area you could work on is using multiple channels to market your high value offers to potential clients. Relying on just one channel for leads puts your business at risk. If your single channel fails, for example, your competitors aggressively ramp up their advertising or they obliterate your search ranking online, then your business will suffer. A multi-channel approach in your marketing plan will ensure consistent business. It’s easiest to start with one channel, which might be SEO (search engine optimisation), that you establish to convert consistently and profitably. Once that’s firing and you have measurable results, you can add others like Google AdWords, Facebook Adverts, Instagram Ads, YouTube, LinkedIn, PR and so on.
Hire a capable and committed team
Without a foundation of talented and reliable people supporting you, it’s very difficult to scale and pursue every opportunity presented. If your team is dysfunctional, your growth will happen on shaky territory, putting everything at risk.
While having money doesn’t automatically mean team members are loyal and committed, having the means to hire talent with the right skills is a good start. Skills and experience may be the elements you look for initially, but the real clincher is whether the person has the right attitude. Shortlist by capability, but hire by commitment, because you want someone who is prepared to work hard for the right reasons.
Behind this should be a company culture that both helps a new team member acclimatise to the way you do things and strengthens the dynamic of the team so that together you can achieve more.
Implement support systems
Once you have the front end dialled in, look at the back end. How are your systems supporting your growth? Are there any improvements you can make? When you have a system that unshackles time, it enables your staff to take on higher value work.
For example, we used to do everything manually. Onboarding clients meant sending them questionnaires and scheduling calls. Now we automate these tasks with funnels, starting with email sequencing, which we set up through our customer relationship management system. These are triggered by applying various tags to the clients.
Look to the people you’re hiring because skilled workers will generally bring useful systems with them that you can implement. It’s best to go through the manual process first to understand what your client needs and to ensure your automation addresses everything they need for their experience with your company. Then as you learn more you can make changes and create a more sophisticated funnel over time.
We automated the grunt work so that our staff are free to do more personable tasks. Grow your team so that each client gets the right care throughout growth, grow on your company values and live them – show that your clients mean something to you and walk the walk.
Getting these three areas right will ensure you have the resources to grow in a balanced, sustainable way, without getting trapped in a spiral of trying to catch up to parts of your business that are thriving and faltering unevenly. It’s about fuelling the fire, rather than putting out fires.
Sabri Suby is the founder of Australia’s fastest growing digital marketing agency, King Kong. Launched in 2014 out of Sabri’s home and completely bootstrapped, King Kong has grown to become a company of over 40 employees with major clients nationally and internationally, generating more than $400 million for him and his clients over the past four years.