Scalability in business

The scalability problem

Scalability is always going to be difficult if your business is based on providing specialist expertise at daily rates. But we’ve spoken to many business managers with that business model who give encouraging news on the subject.

To help grow your business, one trick is to see it as an investor would. This focuses the mind because investors look for specific patterns and outcomes, five of which are listed here.

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1. Decide what your focus and strengths are

A mind that keeps its focus in spite of a thousand distractions and challenges is a mind that you would put money on. Be truthful: Is your team always focusing on the right things? Are you?

Project management is a case in point. Do you know what sort of jobs you should be focusing most on? Do you know what your key performance indicators are? Are you on top of resource planning?

Synergist helps you answer these. The Financial Manager of a creative agency told us:

“Before Synergist, we used several different systems. None of their elements talked to each other. We needed far greater capture of everything that is going on. We needed to focus on key performance indicators, which relies on everything being connected, everything in one place.”

Simon Butler, co-founder of digital agency Purestone (now LEWIS Purestone) told us:

“We planned from the outset that ours should be a Growth business, not a Lifestyle business.

“Synergist helps us know what sort of projects we can take on."

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2. Continuously improve every month

The concept of continuous improvement came to the fore nationally in the 2012 London Olympics when Team GB cycling won a record 8 gold medals. 

All very good. But does that have anything to do with trying to grow a project-based business today?

The MD of a creative agency told us:

“Continual improvement should be baked into what we do.  It’s all about making aggregated small gains in many areas to improve overall performance, sometimes with massive results. Our system (Synergist) makes it easy for us to do precisely this now.”

Continuous improvement requires continuous visibility of all the essential elements of your business. Gary Winder, Managing Director of successful environmental consultancy REC told us:

“With growth being such a driver for us, Synergist’s ability to provide detailed visibility of our operations, enable project managers to make sound decisions, and of course its scalability, are a big plus. It is therefore part of our ongoing growth plans.”

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3. Build a team that doesn’t depend on you so much

No investor into a business is going to be comfortable if the entire business continually pivots around one person. The MD of thriving Birmingham-based digital agency CleverCherry told us:

“Our people are more empowered now. Decisions that used to drop relentlessly into my lap every day are now taking place with no fuss. That's a payoff that keeps on paying. Synergist has helped us be more scalable.”

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4. Don't let growth run away with you

You need to manage it. Fast growth can be almost as dangerous for a business as fast decline. It needs to be managed with care – something that can seem very hard to do when travelling at faster and faster speeds.

Simon Butler has a clear view of how managing growth works. You always need to know exactly what your current ability to deliver is. He tells us:

"Synergist tells us our current capacity as a business.”

Finance Director Steven Clark of Edinburgh-based branding and design agency Tayburn says:

“Synergist gives us scalability. It’s all about growth. It makes growth more manageable.”

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5. Not all business systems are scalable

Choosing the right project management and job costing system is like getting the foundations right. Getting them wrong can mean a sudden jolt and a nasty disconnect when you realise that you need to switch to a new system at precisely the most inconvenient time – when you’re growing.

Synergist is built for scalability. It lets you grow from 10 to 600 people, while you use exactly the same system throughout. Says Andy Yates, Director of successful architectural, structural, civil engineering design practice Webb Yates Engineers:

“Synergist has the scalability we need for growth. We are growing quite rapidly. Synergist’s scalability is a reassurance.”

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A final thought...

No less than two of the above businesses have since been acquired after a sustained period of profitable growth. Certainly Synergist not only helps you grow profitability but it also delivers the order, control and visibility that investors and potential partners and acquirers crave. It makes you think, doesn't it?

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