Are these times full of challenges, or are these times full of opportunities?
The answer is both, especially if you’re an entrepreneur, CEO, or another business executive who believes in playing to win instead of playing not to lose.
Sure, we’re facing market dynamics that are shifting faster than many of us have experienced in our careers. But consider this:
Since 1956, there have been 14 global market downturns of 30% or more. After each of the first 13 of those market corrections, ending with the 2011 crisis in Europe, the economy came back in a big way. The average market rebound was 110%.
The 14th market correction is COVID-19. If history repeats itself, we’ll emerge from inflation and other pandemic-related issues with a bang.
Three entrepreneurs attested to the power of forwarding momentum during challenging times and shared their stories in a recent webinar that my Scaling Up colleague Herb Cogliano hosted. Here’s a sample of what they told us:
- Dennis Balajadia’s company, Dragon Edge Group, overcame venue closures to achieve profits that now are outpacing those from before the pandemic.
- Wayne Spray’s company, Frozen Drinks Africa, went from simply getting by to increasing average sales per customer.
- Michael Barwell’s company, Member Jungle, built cash reserves, protecting them from market shifts.
And they all relied on the Scaling Up methodology to make it happen. Let’s take a closer look at:
- Why these gains are so impressive
- What steps do these business leaders take to achieve them
- How your company can use get these same results—in any market climate
Inflation, Other Forces Causing Market Drama
Inflation is causing an increase in the cost of materials, transportation, wages, health care, and benefits. And companies are feeling the heat, with a 2022 survey from the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) in the United States showing that inflation is the top concern among small business owners.
The Perfect Storm of Concerns
However, inflation is far from the only external issue interrupting business as usual in this COVID-19-affected reality. In his webinar, Herb referred to reports from CNN that indicate we’re also facing concerns like:
- Shifts to remote work and entertainment
- Affordability of college education vs. practical education
- Focus on local vs. international travel
- Emergence of online and small retailers vs. shopping malls
- Bailouts for large companies, but not small businesses
- Shortages of talent during the Great Resignation
- Reliance on outsourcing vs. full-time employees
Internal Obstacles Affecting Scaling Up Efforts
For many businesses, internal roadblocks are as powerful as those in the outside world. The key to overcoming external issues is to evaluate which internal challenges you face—and then take steps to address them.
3 Barriers Can Hamper Your Business Growth
At any time—and in any economy—the following 3 roadblocks can hamper efforts to scale up your company:
- Leadership—A lack of organizational leaders who can grow along with the company
- Scalable Infrastructure—The inability to manage the complex issues that face a growing organization
- Marketing—The failure to address pressure from competitors that come with company growth
Factors To Diagnose Scaling Up Readiness
As you evaluate which of those barriers are impeding your efforts to scale up, ask how your business is faring in these areas:
- People—Are all your company’s stakeholders happy and engaged? Would you rehire them?
- Strategy—Is your business’s strategy driving consistent and predictable revenue growth?
- Execution—Do you have relentless repeatability? In other words, can you deliver the same outcomes for 1 million customers that you delivered for 1?
- Cash—Do you have consistent sources of cash to fuel the growth of your business?
Once you diagnose your business’s strengths and weaknesses, you can begin to formulate a plan that corrects the negatives while also building on the positives. After all, many companies are doing many things right. They want to refine their efforts to achieve even greater success.
How Scaling Up Is Helping 3 Companies Overcome Challenges
While navigating COVID-19, inflation, and myriad other concerns, Dragon Edge Group, Frozen Drinks Africa, and Member Jungle pinpointed their areas for growth. Then they got to work, adopting a growth mindset to put themselves in the best position for scaling up. Here are their Scaling Up success stories:
Dragon Edge Group
Philippines-based Dragon Edge Group sells baby products and sunscreen, with sunscreen comprising half of its business. When COVID-19 closed beaches, it decimated sales. Dennis turned to Scaling Up, which has helped the company restore its profitability to a level ahead of 2019—before the pandemic. Among the ways Dennis says business operations have improved are:
- Processes—Before Scaling Up, Dragon Edge Group’s employees were busy, but now they’re “busy in the right way.” The company has trimmed inefficient processes and unnecessary costs.
- Meeting rhythms—Newly installed bi-weekly one-on-one coaching meetings seemed awkward initially, with those in the sessions wondering how to fill the allotted 50 minutes. Today, deeper and more productive conversations make it challenging to finish within the prescribed time.
- Core values—Recently established core values “become more alive” through their broad use within the company. Interviews of job candidates include discussion of the deals because, often, mis-hires aren’t the result of poor skill; they are bad fits with a company’s core values.
Frozen Drinks Africa
Frozen Drinks Africa is a South African company selling its products to locations ranging from schools to resorts. It had steady growth and withstood the pandemic, but its growth accelerated after the organization studied the Scaling Up methodology. Wayne credits this progress to:
- Core values—By pinpointing the company’s core values, the company established a filter for discerning which customers are a good fit. By choosing to work only with those that align with those core values, Frozen Drinks Africa enjoys stronger relationships with its partners—and has increased its average sales per customer.
- Meeting rhythms—The old, top-down approach to communication went by the wayside when a regular process for planning and conducting meetings emerged. Confidence among employees has grown as they’ve gained opportunities to speak up. Weekly huddles recognize staff achievements.
Club membership software company Member Jungle, based in Australia, appreciates the value of continuous learning for keeping employees on the same page. By shifting pricing strategies after learning through Scaling Up, the company has maintained business continuity despite challenging economic conditions. Here is how Michael says his company has improved:
- Core values—The exercise of establishing solid core values and a focused brand promise got the staff on the same page. The new core values are the “heart of the business,” underpinning each big decision corporate leaders make.
- Meeting rhythms—Employing the hack of setting unusual meeting times to get employees’ attention and help them remember, teams now conduct 12:04 p.m. daily huddles. These regular check-ins help ensure that everyone is aligned in their efforts and awareness of corporate activities.
- Cash—Member Jungle examined its financial health and began offering its services through a subscription model, helping to ensure the regular payments that have helped sustain it.
Scale Up Through Inflation And Beyond
Have you been holding back, hoping your business can ride the storm of inflation, staffing issues, and every other force disrupting the market? Now’s the time to put yourself in the best position to scale your company amidst the chaos—and capitalize on the strong demand when it returns.
If you’re ready to get started on your journey to successfully scaling up, I encourage you to access the following resources:
- “Prepare for an Extended Period of Inflation—The Scaling Up Way!” webinar—Learn more about Scaling Up and the success stories of Dragon Edge Group, Frozen Drinks Africa, and Member Jungle.
- Scaling Up Master Business Course—Put to work the methodology that can help you scale your business with more impact and less drama.
- Scaling Up book—Explore how companies can overcome roadblocks related to their people, strategy, execution, and cash to scale up successfully.
- MBD All Access—Get your ticket to a wealth of tools, including the Scaling Up Master Business Course, to help your company handle any obstacle it faces.