What is Scaling?
Let's be honest, when you first start selling, you're happy just to get sales. And if you start getting more sales, you're thrilled. You're growing. But that kind of organic growth will only take you so far. If you want significant growth, you have to take a hard look at the business you have pieced together and make some changes.
That's where scaling comes in. It's fixing the problems your business has so you can grow with less effort and expense. It's working smarter.
I use an expensive adhesive when I make my Rolodex dividers. When I first started selling the dividers, I'd wait until my local craft store had a 50% off coupon and I'd run in and buy that adhesive. That was fine when I only needed to buy it once a month.
As sales increased and I had to buy three and four cartridges of adhesive every month, that became a problem. I could only use the coupon on one item, so I'd have to go to the store more often. Plus, sometimes I needed the adhesive before another coupon was available. My way of purchasing this supply wasn't scalable.
So I had to find another way to buy my adhesive. I contacted the manufacturer, and they gave me the name of two distributors. I contacted them both and arranged to start buying from both of them. (That way, if one of them goes out of business, I still have another source.) Now I can buy 10 cartridges at a time, get free shipping, and pay way less than retail cost. And I never have to spend time going to a store.
Do You Want to Scale Your Business?
Not everyone wants to grow their business. Some people, especially creative people, are happy as things are with their business. It might not be worth the trouble, especially if you aren't ready to scale. If you are unsure about your own situation, ask yourself these three questions:
- Do you have the time?
- Do you have the space?
- Do you have the money?
Do You Have The Time?
It takes a lot of time to rearrange your business and get new suppliers, if need be. And in order to get more sales, you'll likely have to advertise or promote on social media. It takes time to make up ads and do your own promotion. And, once you start getting more sales, you'll be busier creating and shipping more products. You'll need to think of ways to streamline your process to make the best use of your time.
Do You Have The Space?
If you start selling more, you'll have to create more. You'll have to buy more supplies to create your products. And, you'll need more shipping supplies to deliver your products to your customers. Do you have the space to store those extra shipping supplies, and craft supplies and finished products? And is that space organized enough to find everything once you have it? More stuff means more confusion unless you are strategic in your storage plan.
Do You Have the Money?
Growing your business is likely going to cost you money. You will have to buy larger quantities of your supplies as your production increases. If you are serious about growing your business, you will likely need to pay for ads, a website, and software. And, you will probably need to upgrade some things, because all the old equipment, situations, and procedures you have been putting up with will frustrate you as you are producing more.
My biggest frustration was my office space. It was in the basement, so it was dark, and photographing my products took too long. I didn't have enough workspace, so I had to move things around between tasks, which also cost me time. And, to be honest, it was a pretty uninspiring place. So, before working on scaling, I got a new office.
Here's what it looks like on my first day. It's not finished and it's not pretty, but it's already more functional than my old office. I've fixed a lot of the problems I was putting up with and I am super excited to see where this takes me.
Read my next post for a free, low tech way to figure out what problems your business is dealing with.
2021 update: Here's my new office now.
My cutting machines are on a high desk, so I don't have to hunch over when I work.
I have way more desk space and a designated shipping area.
I have lots of windows - good for photography AND plants.
And Seymour likes it, too.