Two of business owners’ best-loved topics are growth and scaling in business.
However, what does “scaling a business” actually mean?
And, what’s the difference between growth and scaling?
We may think that the idea of scaling a business and growing a business as interchangeable, but in actuality, they’re two completely separate ideas.
When you're in a season of growth, your focus is more clients and more revenue. The downside is it means more resources: expenses, time, and people.
When you are in a season of scale, your focus is amplifying and expanding your business in a lean, luxe, leveraged way.
In this episode, Crista dives deep into the distinctions between growth and scale and will help you understand:
🔹 Simple and sustainable scaling
🔹 The difference in growing vs scaling your business
🔹 The lean, luxe, leveraged way of scaling your business
🔹 The four stages in business
In today's world, "scaling" is an often-heard buzzword used by entrepreneurs, coaches and consultants.
The possibility and excitement of scaling the business is undeniable.
But, I find that many fail to grasp is that scaling and growth are actually two different things.
So often, I hear these terms used interchangeably, even by so-called “scaling strategists”.
However, between growth and scale, there are several critical differences that are important for you to understand.
For example, one of the ways that I work with clients is to help them “lean out” during the growth phase, in preparation for scale.
Simplifying is necessary...otherwise you risk scaling in a way that feels overwhelming and is generally unsustainable.
So how do you differentiate between the two?
A great place to start is in identify where you are in the “life cycle” of your business.
In Lean Out Method, we look at four distinct stages:
- Scale &
Stage One: Emerge
Emerge is the “figure it out” stage where you take your idea or concept and turn it into a business.
Your primary focus? Finding product market fit.
Emerge is all about finding the:
- right offers
- for the right people
- at the right price
- with the right positioning
You want to "lock-in" that have an offer that you can sell on repeat and it provides value for your clients.
Your product/market fit is when you become clear on:
- What you’re known for
- Who your ideal client is
- Your sweet spot price point – that price point that leaves your customers feeling like they are getting a great value while also generating enough revenue and profit for you and your business
This stage is often referred to as the “spaghetti” stage as you are experimenting with your offers to see what fits.
Often, this stage involves a lot of hustle and effort, as most of the work is dependent on you.
Getting to Growth
Once you know your product/market fit, you want to focus on growth.
I know, I know…
It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon and say, “My business has traction, I’m ready to scale!”
Hate to break it to you...but you can't jump straight from emerge to scale; as much as you'd like to.
You've got to pass through growth.
It’s a critical part of the journey.
In growth, your focus is:
- Getting more customers,
- Establishing that you are profitable, and
- Determining your long term focus.
Growth vs. Accelerated lean growth.
When you're in a season of growth, you tend to be in a season of MORE.
More clients, more revenue.
The downside of that is it usually also means more expense, more time, more people, right?
Growth can look super sexy from the outside looking in.
Your doubling your numbers, taking on more clients, and everything moves fast.
What people fail to realize is that growth can be completely suffocating from the inside out because it adds complexity, moving parts, and people decisioning.
While you are in the phase of growth, you want to be mindful that while growth produces more revenue, it also produces more expenses.
Think: you need more resources, money, time, tools, processes, etc. to properly manage and support your growing client base.
That is why we focus on “leaning out” at the growth stage.
If you are not leaning out while growing, you’re usually working a whole lot more and sometimes not earning anymore, sometimes you may actually be earning less.
When you lean out, you get strategic on how to spend your time and invest your money, you build a rockstar team (not just hiring out of desperation to offload tasks rapidly from our plate).
Growth is also about starting to lean out and do less things better.
When we lean out, we stop saying yes to everything, we leverage and optimize the tools we already have rather than buying ALL of the new shiny tools and we invest in, build and train teams.
So why is it all about scale?
And what is it that most people get wrong about scale?
If you only focus on growth and forget about scaling, you may end up working really hard but without having more profit in the bank to reward you for all of your efforts.
The benefit of scale is having freedom of time, finances and choices.
The most important distinction to know about scaling is the focus on LESS.
And a lot of people mistakenly think that scaling means more.
More things, more people, more everything.
Scaling is actually more quality over quantity, less better.
The key to scaling successfully, and sustainably, you really need to simplify and optimize.
Really effective scaling is putting as much focus on the back end of your business as you do on the front end of your business. It's about optimizing as much as it is about growing.
Optimizing is what increases profits, not just your revenue.
And not only that, but you're also leveraging your time.
For example: if you work with clients 1:1 and it takes you 1 hour, and you have ten clients, that is 10 hours of your time.
If you have a scalable model or a scalable offer and you are working with those ten clients in a more scalable group format then those ten clients are only taking you 1 hour as opposed to 10 hours which is giving you leverage with your time.
When I'm brought in to work with corporations, fortune 50 companies, they practice the following to scale:
- Cut expenses and cut costs while bringing in new revenue.
- Implement systems and uplevel their playbooks.
- Invest in team training and support allowing employees to grow in their role with the company.
- Practice strategic planning, most of which are lean and or agile.
- Avoid gut driven decisions.
- Review metrics and insights.
When these companies prepare for scale, they focus on becoming more operationally efficient and agile; which results in being able to get products to market faster.
They make absolutely certain that they only fund things that are in alignment with the company's overarching vision or strategic objectives, and they remain focused on continuous improvement and optimization.
So remember, when you transition to scaling, you want to focus on:
- Strategic Planning
- Amazing team & leadership
- Leveling your infrastructure and your operational efficiency (Insights)
Maybe you have not yet reached the place where you can go all in on scaling.
You can still grow your business in a lean, luxe leveraged way.
And when you do so, you are actually going to accelerate the growth stage in a way that does not eat your profits and does not take all your time and get yourself into a place of scaling a lot faster.
And here's the really amazing and really cool thing about scaling.
- When you are truly in a season of scale, you've got a rock star team around you.
- You've got your right hand person, the person I call your SOL, your strategy and operations leader.
- You've got the right systems and processes and tools and infrastructure in place.
- You've got the right things in place to support you so that you, as the leader of the business, can be laser focused on the things that you care most about.
- You can put your time on legacy work, on thought leadership work.
You can look at your calendar and feel amazing about the things that you are actually spending your time doing instead of feeling like you're stuck, weighed down in the day to day and drowning in unnecessary complexity.
- A truly scalable business is what gives you freedom.
- A business that's growing does not give you freedom.
- But that doesn't mean you don't grow your business.
- You have to grow in order to scale.
So how do you know where you are and what to be focused on so you are able to scale sustainably, now or in the future?
I'd love to help you figure that out.
My specialty is, and always has been, helping businesses to scale, whether they are currently scaling or aspire to scale.
I support businesses in 2 primary ways:
- I help businesses navigate through the scale stage of business so they are scaling in a simple and sustainable way where the founder is able to step out of the day-to-day and into their thought leadership and legacy work, and...
- I help businesses prepare for scale / become scalable by navigating through the growth stage of business in a really strategic way that focuses on sustainable and scalable results and a sustainable pace
If you have been curious about what it's like to work together and want insight into the best steps to successfully scale or prepare to scale your business, I invite you to click here to book a time for us to meet and assess exactly where your business is and what you should be focused on next.
Ready to simplify and streamline how you scale your business?
- We are now accepting Visionary CEOs and their right-hand Ops Leads into our signature Simplify to Scale mentorship program. Learn more and join us at leanoutmethod.com/scale.
- Join us for our transformational in-person business retreats and masterminds each Spring and Fall at leanoutmethod.com/retreats.
- Have questions? Want to explore partnering together to scale your business? Book a FREE strategy call to explore working together.
by Crista Grasso
Crista Grasso is the go-to strategic planning expert for leading global businesses and online entrepreneurs when they want to scale. Known as the "Business Optimizer", Crista has the ability to quickly cut through noise and focus on optimizing the core things that will make the biggest impact to scale a business simply and sustainably. She specializes in helping businesses gain clarity on the most important things that will drive maximum value for their clients and maximum profits for their business. She is the creator of the Lean Out Method, 90 Day Lean Out Planner, and host of the Lean Out Your Business Podcast. She is also the founder and CVO of the Profitable Planner Co and Criscara Jewelry.