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FAE 028 Design Your Business III: To Scale Or Not To Scale?

FAE 028 Design Your Business III: To Scale or Not to Scale?

Paul continues the “Design Your Business” series by exploring the advantages and disadvantages of scaling your business. Is scaling for you, what kind of growth do you want to achieve and how should you go about it? Tune in to find out!

Here is the full transcript:

Design your business three, to scale or not to scale.

Hi there. I’m Paul Urwin and welcome to the Freelancers and Entrepreneurs Podcast, where freelancing meets entrepreneurship and business. We discussed client sales, marketing, outsourcing, mindset, and much, much more. Find out more at how are you today Paul Urwin here and welcome to Episode 28 of the freelancers and entrepreneurs podcast. This is the next in the design your business series. This is the third in the series, to scale or not to scale. If you would like to check out the other episodes we’re back in Episode 18. There is an introduction to designing your business and in the episode just before this one is Episode 27 I talked About location independence. So we’re starting to put together a picture of all the different components that for me make up this this idea of designing your business. So that’s what I’m going to be talking about today. Before I jump into that, I just like to encourage you to do two things. One is to visit the website and check out what is going on in terms of our webinars. We’ve got webinars on at the moment, so well worth taking a look at that. And the other thing is to make sure that you’re in the Facebook group, if you’re not there. Already, the link is on the website, Right. Well, let’s get into today’s main section now, which is all about it’s all about scaling. I think this is really a really, really interesting concept and, and once again, as I’ve mentioned before in previous episodes, one of the reasons I like to talk about these these topics is because when I designed my my first business, I didn’t Think about any of this at all, absolutely. No idea. And everything just kind of started in a bit of a haphazard way a little bit by chance. And fortunately it it’ll, it’ll worked out in the end, but, but I just wish I’d thought about a few of these things back then. And certainly now when I start a new business I, I certainly consider these these factors. I think it’s a really good idea to do so. So So what about some What about scaling? What’s, what’s that all about? Well, I mean, from from my own personal point of view, I’ve always been looking for, for growth, I was like the idea of growing a company of a building something much bigger than than myself. And that’s something that continues today. I would I would really like to be able to scale a business and have operations in different countries and and have year on year growth of 20 percent or 50%, or something like that, I would. I think that’s something that I definitely aspire to but, but I know that not everyone is in that situation. And not everyone wants to achieve growth. A lot of people are looking for a, what they’re starting to call these days a lifestyle business.

So a business that allows you to support your lifestyle in a really comfortable way where you can have sufficient income or generate sufficient profits each year to cover all of your expenses to go on holiday, all that kind of thing live very comfortably, but without really sort of pushing it to the limit without working too hard without being overly concerned about growth and just maintaining this, maintaining your fantastic lifestyle. So that is the sort of thing that a lifestyle business might be able to do for you. There are also other As among you, who are perfectly happy with with where you are, and you might be a freelancer making a certain amount of money each year, you might have growth, you might have growth that reflects inflation each year, or you might not, and you might still be perfectly happy. I found this quite interesting as well. reading the comments in the Facebook group, I know that within the Facebook group, we have a wide range of different freelancers and entrepreneurs and some and some of you are really looking for this huge growth. People people are in there, developing apps, for example, and, and raising venture capital and really looking for massive amounts of growth and others in the group of freelancers or, or established entrepreneurs, but people who are in a position of, of stability, who are looking for stability, who are looking to maintain their business and maintain their lifestyle. So what’s my point with all of that? My point is that Before we go any further, I think you need to have a little bit of a reflection and just ask yourself, what is it that you want? What is it that you want? Do you want growth? Do you want stability? Or are you looking to maintain a lifestyle business? What is it that you want in your business or in your freelancing operation? And I think that’s really key. And I don’t think you should be worried about taking that analyzing and taking that decision and telling everyone what it is that you want, because I think sometimes on social media, especially, I think everyone can be fooled into thinking that they that they want growth, because a lot of people talk about growing and 10 axing and multiplying, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. But a lot of people don’t want that. So do you want that? Is that really what you’re you’re looking for? Or do you want somewhere, let’s say in between massive growth and stability, we’d like a little bit of steady growth. What is it that you would What is it that you would actually like to achieve but don’t don’t let people on on social media fool you into thinking that you want something that you you don’t or pretending that you need to follow the crowd in that sense you don’t. And it’s the same with with location independence, location independence in which I discussed in the previous episode, great for some people can really provide a lot of flexibility. Some people are just not interested some people build massively successful careers in one city. So what is it that you would like in terms of growth, make that decision and and really be be happy with the decision that you make, and then you can take the actions based off of that. So having analyzed that, let’s now talk a little bit about scalability. So if you do want to scale, what does that what does that actually look like? And what does that mean?

The first thing I would say that if you do want to scale and you want to achieve significant growth, then you need to select a business that is scalable, obvious statement, right? Okay, but the fact of the matter is not all businesses are scalable, not all businesses are scalable. Some businesses just run into a kind of natural ceiling, where it is difficult to grow more. And the point here is that if you are looking for something that is scalable, you don’t want to work really hard on a business for three years, or five years or however long and then discover that what you were doing cannot be scaled anymore. So you really need to analyze your your business, analyze your freelancing operation and say, Well, you know, what is it that I do? What countries do I serve? What market do I serve or markets do I serve? And how would this look if it were five times bigger or 10 times Bigger or 100 times bigger? What would it? What would it look like? What would it look like? Well, let me just let me just run through an example if you can imagine a, a coach or a tutor of some kind, then often that kind of person starts off exchanging dollars for hours. So charging for tutoring or coaching, or coaching services. And obviously, if that person continues in the same way, then there is a natural limit to that person’s business because there that there’s only a certain number of hours in the day and certain number of hours in the week. So you can only have so many, so many students in that time. So there is a natural limit there. Now, some people will then take that further, for example, in a tutoring business and hire other tutors to work for them. So that’s one way of potentially scaling the limit of that scalability then is going to depend on the market. What’s the demand like in the market? What’s the supply? Like? How many, how many qualified shooters are there in a particular market? So those are the types of things that you might want to think about. How are you going to go from dollars for hours? If that’s if that’s the case, to scaling a business? And if you start to scale your business, at what point do you foresee that you might run into problems? Now if you can, if you can say to yourself, Well, I don’t really see any problem until I get above 100 tutors. Well, that might be more than more than enough. It might be more than what you’re looking for anyway. But if you really want to achieve massive growth, you need to make sure that you are going into an area that is totally scalable. So let me give you another example of something that was kind of A real world business example. Let’s now talk about, for example, an app. Many apps are totally totally scalable, an app, which provides some kind of information or some kind of service or perhaps even a again, for example, well, that can be that can be scaled, a lot of work goes into development. A lot of work goes then into marketing that particular app. But in terms of the the number of users that you can have will really often an app is open to a worldwide market, there really is no limit in terms of users. So that often is an area that will be totally scalable. So that’s something that you might want to consider. Now. If you do want to scale I think it’s important to recognize that this comes with a lot of issues. It comes with a lot of issues. So if you’re a freelancer Looking to turn yourself into more of a business or or scale achieve growth, then it is important to recognize the changes that you are likely to go through along that path. And the first thing is that it’s likely to take you away from your main activity. So if you are a graphic designer or if you are a writer, or if you are a voice talent, then scaling is likely to take you further away from that core activity and more into management more into managing a team of others into making payments into organizing contracts into sales, marketing, and so on. So there’s a whole range of other activities. And that’s one of the reasons why a number of people prefer to stay as a freelancer. And as I’ve said before, this is about recognizing who you are and what you want to achieve. If you’re a freelancer, you don’t need to worry about a lot of these things. Sure, you definitely need to carry out marketing activities and sales activities. But in terms of managing a team of others, you might have one or two outsourcers, but you’re not really going to have a big headache, potential headache, because sometimes it can be a headache, in terms of managing a bunch of other people. So if you really want to focus on your core activity, if you really, really enjoy that, then do you want to create something? Do you want to scale something where your role might be completely different and might not be what you’re looking for other people, on the other hand, really enjoy that challenge. They really enjoy the challenge of, of transitioning, if you like from a core activity into more of a business owner.

Another issue that I’ve that I’ve experienced myself is the issue of quality control. If you’re a freelancer Well, you really have entire the entire control, total control over everything that you send out. If you’re a graphic designer, you do the designs, you review the designs, you send them to the client, and you know exactly what has been sent. On the other hand, if you employ a team of 10, or even 100, graphic designers, well, are you going to be able to monitor every piece of work that leaves your company? Well, the answer is at some point, probably not. And is there a problem? I’m sure you’ve all seen these numbers of of companies testimonial percentages on someone’s website that says something like 98% or 85% of our customers are happy or would buy from us again or something like that? Well, it’s a it’s a high number, but perhaps it’s not quite as high as You might be able to achieve as a freelancer if you’re in total control of everything that you send out. So again, I think this is a decision that you have to make a you, are you looking to control every single thing in your business? Or are you prepared to, let’s say establish some guidelines? Sure. Put some controls in place, hire some other people or Some reviewers to try and guarantee the quality of your your process. Are you interested in doing that? Or do you want to control absolutely everything? I think I think it’s a fact of business life that as you expand, you lose a little bit of control. You lose a little bit of control and you have to and yet you The buck stops with you. So you are you are responsible for for what happens in your, in your your company. Again, it’s a very personal decision. What kind of life of business that you want to develop again, as you scale. As you scale, the numbers are also bigger. What does that mean? Often it can mean greater profits or bigger reward fantastic. But there’s also more risk associated with scaling. The numbers are just the numbers are just bigger.

So you might be in a big contract involved in a big contract with lots of moving parts with lots of people involved and the risk is, is definitely higher. So you’ve got to ask yourself, are you willing to accept that risk? Do you want to be in that kind of business? I’ve seen lots of people over the years in different businesses, all kinds of different examples that I can think of but but one example is definitely a of people who, who run a business who are in theory, successful who are actually selling and have Good profits, but a super stressed, super troubled with, with everything that’s going on in their business they find it hard to manage. They find it difficult. So. So yeah. Is that something that you want to create? Well, you don’t want to create a stressful environment like that, of course. And that’s what this design your business is all about, let’s, let’s think about the business from the beginning or from early on and develop something that you would like a lot of people like to travel, a lot of people don’t like to travel all the time. So if you if you don’t like to travel all the time, then don’t design a business that requires you to be in four different countries and traveling between them all the time. So it just it’s just about thinking about things from the beginning and planning things out. It doesn’t even need to be from the beginning. If you’re halfway through a business. While that’s absolutely absolutely fine. You can start to plan the future.

Not necessarily plan everything right from the beginning, but you can really plan where it is that you want to get to. So if we’ve talked about a couple of the downsides of, of scaling Well, one of the obvious upsides is that there is unlimited growth potential. as a freelancer, you have a limited income, you have that kind of ceiling that I’m sure you’re aware of, if you’ve if you’ve worked in that way, or if you do work in that way. And really, when you develop a scalable business, such as an app, in that earlier example, there really is unlimited growth potential, you can go from selling $1,000 a month to $10,000 a month to $100,000 a month, and so on and you can really create something of value something that has a much bigger value than something that you could create as Freelancer something an entity separate to yourself in some way that you could potentially sell in the future, as well. So if you are looking to sell your business in the future, you should probably be, you’re probably going to be more inclined to scale and more aware or more interested in achieving growth. So that’s another thing to think about, are you setting up a business or an entity so that you can sell it in the future? Again, this is another thing that a lot of people don’t think about they, they get to a point in their business where they want to sell, but then they really integrated themselves as an individual into absolutely everything within the business without setting up the correct processes without setting things up, so that it can work without them that then it’s really really difficult to sell, because they are effectively the business. So is that some is that a position that you want? Being How do you want to how do you want to manage this? Do you want to create something that you can then sell to someone else? Or are you not particularly worried about that and you’re happy to to work as a freelancer and then stop at some point. So, so many things to consider. And really, I would say scaling is is a very, very personal decision, as I mentioned at the beginning, and and just be happy with the decision that you take and don’t be afraid to do something different to everyone else, you might have a few friends who are intent on scaling and you might not be interested or or you might have, or vice versa, you might be really involved with a with a group of freelancers who are quite happy achieving a certain level of growth every year and you want something more entirely up to you entirely up to you. So that’s what I wanted to say. On the topic of scaling and growth. Do you want to scale and if so what kind of growth rate are you looking for? Please? Let me know please let me know in the Facebook group, I’d love to hear from you. So I hope you found that useful. I hope you I hope it helped Hope it helps in some way for you to to figure out what you want to do in terms of growth. I’ll be back next week with a another episode, we’ve got a mixture of interviews and this design your business series. Thank you so much for tuning in today. I really, really appreciate your your being here and I also really, really wish you absolutely every success in your freelancing operation or in your business. If you’d like to find out more, why not come on over to freelancers and entrepreneurs comm check out all of the resources available on the website. Many of them are completely free, of course. Thanks again, all the best and until next time, bye bye.

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