As business owners, we are all looking to make a profit from our businesses. If you’re going to spend hours, days, months, and even years trying to grow a business, you have to find a way to make it profitable.
One of the best ways to make your business more profitable is to scale it. Scaling your business simply means that you find ways to make it grow by automating your systems.
You produce more by outsourcing tasks that don’t make money, so that you, as the business owner, can focus on those tasks that increase profits.
This week, MiloTree Community Manager and my friend, Paula Rollo, and I are going to be discussing how to find ways to make money in your business. In particular, we will talk about how to find product-market fit.
Product-market fit is when you find something that connects with your audience that they’re willing to pay for.
What Does It Mean to Scale Your Business?
Scaling is a word that entrepreneurs use a lot, but it is rarely clearly defined.
For the purposes of this conversation, we are going to define it as that moment in your business when you find product-market fit.
Product-market fit simply means that what you are offering connects with your audience and they are willing to pay for it.
The majority of your time is probably spent trying to find your product-market fit and testing to see if it works.
When Should I Start Scaling my Business?
You have a product but you don’t know whether to start scaling your business. What do you do?
You test your hypothesis.
Let’s say you’ve written an ebook and you want to see if it resonates with anyone.
You could put up a landing page for your book, put a buy button on the landing page, and see if people click.
If people are willing to buy it, then you know you have a good product.
It’s important to make sure that you’re not just getting signals that your idea is working but that you’re getting real information to confirm that people want it.
This means you don’t do anything just because your mom likes it.
No matter what, you want to be sure that the signal is strong enough for you to start investing money and time confidently.
Don’t get discouraged if it takes a while to find your product-market fit.
The Planning Stage of Scaling Your Business
So you’re ready to start scaling. What are your next steps?
- Write down your goals. Remember, if you don’t have a destination in mind, you’ll end up nowhere every time.
- Write down what you hope to accomplish. Do you want to sell a certain amount of books and become a full-time writer? Write it down.
- Write down your hypothesis. What do you think will happen when you test your product?
- Get started. You can build a website for super cheap these days, so get something up and start testing.
- Get feedback. Your customers should be your co-creators. The more input they have, the more successful you will be. Create solutions. As your audience tells you their problems, create solutions for them. These are the products they want from you.
Finding Flexibility in Your Business
When we started Catch My Party, we were sure we understood teen girls. I mean, come on. I had been a teen girl!
We thought teen girls would love to share photos of their parties.
We hired developers and did it very cheaply as a side hustle. And when we opened, we had no audience.
It turns out that teen girls weren’t interested in a site where they could load their party pictures.
It looked like the business was a disaster.
Luckily, moms with Etsy shops started using the site.
We had to be flexible and realize that our intended audience wasn’t the right audience.
We had an audience; it just wasn’t the audience we thought we had built the site for.
We had to learn a lesson about being flexible.
You can always shut your audience down, but how will your business profit from that? You need to be able to be flexible about how others might take your ideas and your vision and use that to help themselves.
Planning For Change in Your Business
When you scale a business, you are preparing for change.
Maybe you will change an ebook into a webinar and sell a course during that webinar to increase your revenue. Maybe you will take a piece of free content and expand on it to create something totally new that you can sell.
The best steps when planning for change:
- Plan in 6-month increments
- Hold your plan loosely
- Have a long-term vision/goal
- Know your audience and their needs
- Remain flexible
The only thing that is consistent is change.
If you have carefully cultivated your audience, if you know them, then you can continue to pinpoint ways to help them solve problems in new ways.
As you grow and change, your business will also grow and change. Find an audience that will grow and change with you.
Qualifications for Scaling Your Business
Product-market fit is important because even if you don’t know who’s showing up for your product, but you see that your bank account is growing, you can still begin to scale your business.
But if your product is not engaging your target audience, you shouldn’t assume that more of that same audience will show up for what you’re offering.
I would use either the fact that your traffic is growing or people are paying for your product as evidence that you can begin to scale.
Even if someone tells you how amazing they think your product is, if they won’t back it with money, then it is not a product market fit.
Pick Up the Phone
I have been using short phone calls to people who use MiloTree to get ideas for what solutions will and won’t work for other issues my audience is facing.
We tend to have our own preconceived notions about things, but that doesn’t mean we are right, especially if our ideas aren’t working to build our business.
People are happy to help you. If you call someone and ask if they’re willing to look at something for you, most of the time they will say yes.
Testing Your Product
Many people will suggest you give your product away for free to get feedback.
I do not recommend this when testing for product-market fit.
The reason I don’t suggest it is that people typically don’t commit to anything if they haven’t paid something for it.
What you can do though is offer it for a steeply discounted price.
Ask your buyers for feedback; what they liked, what was helpful to them, and what they would like to see changed.
Again, this makes your audience feel like they are co-creating the product with you and they will be more invested in it.
Are You Ready to Get Started?
Let’s sum up the process of scaling your business.
- Connect first – figure out what problem you are solving
- Test the product – find out if your solution works for your audience
- Scale – hire a VA or someone who can take on parts of your business so that you can focus on product creation
- Build – if you put $2 into a Facebook ad, you should be earning $3 back
This takes time, patience, and money. You may lose money at the beginning of your scaling process.
But be patient. As long as you are following the steps of writing down your goals, getting feedback, testing, and solving problems, you should just keep plugging away.
Knowing How Long To Experiment
A lot of knowing how long to keep going is just a feel for how it’s going or how long you can stomach it.
One thing I have learned is that if we get early traction, that’s a signal that it could work.
It is so important to know your audience. If you know them well, you will know fairly early on based on the feedback you receive whether or not they love your product.
Check Your Assumptions
When you are working on something new, be sure you don’t have assumptions about how your audience will react.
Once you’ve been past the testing stage and have gotten some feedback, your product will likely be a completely different product than what you started with.
Remember how we talked about being flexible? Be willing to change your ideas and how you do things based on the feedback you get from your audience.
Don’t assume that scaling is going to be easy or require no effort. Scaling is a process.
If your ideas don’t work right off the bat, you are not alone. Everyone who has managed to build a successful business has had to go through the learning stages.
If you have any questions, please email me because I would love to hear if you are currently scaling your business and how it’s going for you! We’d love to take your questions and address them in a future episode.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Timestamp of Episode
- 1:05 What Does It Mean to Scale Your Business?
- 2:48 When Should I Start Scaling
- 6:20 The Planning Stage of Scaling Your Business
- 8:06 Finding Flexibility in Your Business
- 13:33 Planning For Change
- 19:12 Qualifications for Scaling
- 21:25 Pick up the Phone
- 27:35 Testing Your Product
- 32:02 Are You Ready to Get Started?
- 34:00 Knowing How Long To Experiment
- 37:57 Check Your Assumptions
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