Steps to scale up your start up

Only one in five start ups will make it past the five-year mark. Scary stats, right? If yours is going to be one of them, the chances are that a time will come when you’ve grown too much to be able to go it alone much longer. A captain needs his crew but hiring help isn’t the only way to scale up your start up to create a sustainable business model for the long term.

Here are a few more tips and tricks that’ll give your business legs for the long-haul.

Increase your rates

Once you reach a stage where the diary is jam-packed for the foreseeable, it’s time to increase your rates. Do this before you even start thinking about employing someone to lend a hand.

Leave hourly rates behind

There are only so many hours in a day, so working on an hourly basis means you’ll hit a ceiling sooner rather than later. Move away from hourly rates where possible and start creating set prices for projects instead, shifting the focus back to the value of your work, as opposed to the time it takes.

Pitch your existing clients

You already ‘get’ your clients’ brands, so it only makes sense that you’re the one they turn to for other services. Find ways to offer complementary services to retainer clients. If you already write their blog posts, could you do their social media or print marketing material too? Be careful to offer services that remain in your niche; deviate too far away and you risk swaying into Jack-of-all-trades territory.

Consider outsourcing admin

When you work for yourself, you’re expected to be the finance director, marketing manager, HR coordinator, cleaner, accountant and a whole lot more day-in, day-out. There’s no shame in outsourcing some of the admin side of things to free you up to spend more time on the money-making tasks. Whether you finally turn to an accountant to take the stress of tax returns away or enlist the help of a remote PA, you’ll notice a huge difference in your chargeable output once your attention is where it makes the most difference to your bottom line.

Recruit your crew

The seas of self-employment can be stormy and no captain can navigate them without his crew. When you start out, your crew is likely to take the form of mentors like those here at Helm and others in your industry, but if you’re scaling up your start-up past the five-year mark, the time will come to recruit your own crew. Once the demand for work makes additional hands on deck viable, start looking at options like working with other freelancers or hiring staff. Of course, once your hire a team, your role changes from self-employed to employer and that’s a whole new ballgame. But that’s a conversation for another time.

Helm Free Fridays

Want to learn more? Head down to Helm on a Friday for Helm Free Fridays. Full use of the space with meeting rooms, people and coffee. Come see what we're all about.