Why Having a Scale and Sell Strategy is Vital

If you have kids to bring up, the idea of starting your own business can be attractive – lots of freedom and flexibility. Being able to pay the bills and have time to enjoy being a parent is a legitimate reason to unleash your inner entrepreneur. Financial wealth isn’t a goal everyone shares; some things are just more important – there are other ways to feel rich.


However, if you change your mind, perhaps when the children are older, and acquiring affluence does become the prime reason to run your own business, you need to be thinking about scale and sell.


More than half a million new startup businesses are launched in the UK every year, according to the latest government statistics. Sadly, 20% will likely fail within their first year and 60% won’t make it past three years of trading.


A common issue is not having a scale and sell strategy.


The majority of companies fail to scale and sell because they don’t start with the exit in mind. Usually, an entrepreneur comes up with a great idea. Perhaps they’ve spotted a gap in the market or an issue they are able to solve effectively. They develop their product(s) and put it out in the market, expecting organic growth. They see some revenue but only enough to tread water, so they remain a small business and make it their day job.


By starting with a longer-term view in mind, entrepreneurs can take their journey further. They can scale the business, develop a name for themselves, and then sell on, gaining seed money for their next venture as well as a payoff for their hard work.


So, why don’t more entrepreneurs start with the long game in mind?


They don’t know how

Know-how is important to navigate legal, compliance, and fiscal management, for example. This know-how is more accessible to those who have completed an MBA or other business degree, yet these courses don’t teach entrepreneurs how to be different. On the flip side, those without the advantages of a degree might have a better, hungrier mindset but often won’t have the know-how.


They get bogged down in the weeds

To keep the horizon in view, entrepreneurs need the right perspective. It’s impossible to gain that perspective when they’re overly involved in the minutiae of the business operation. It can be hard to let go of the reigns but, ultimately, it’s essential to trust other people and delegate to maintain perspective and grow.


They don’t have someone to hold them to account

Human beings are great at coming up with reasons not to take action. Explaining these reasons to someone else, however, often shows them to be the excuses they are. A good coach or mentor will both hold the long-term plans to account as well as help maintain a sense of perspective that can otherwise get lost.


They lack either ambition or confidence

Some have never considered scaling and selling their business; others don’t think they have it in them to successfully scale and sell their business. As such, they’ve never had an eye on the long-term plan and won’t take the necessary steps to make it happen.


They don’t really want it to grow

Some entrepreneurs are simply attracted to self-employment. They only want to earn the equivalent of a good salary with all the flexibility that being their own boss offers. Scaling and selling is hard work and contains an element of risk that some entrepreneurs don’t want to engage in.


What needs to change?

Entrepreneurs who want to scale and sell their businesses need a shift in mindset. Rather than seeing the business as a lifestyle choice (an extension of themselves), they need to separate themselves from their business.


As parents, we raise our children to be independent in the world. At first, they are small, weak, and incapable. Then they grow and can be more independent, but still need our help. Then, finally, they fly the nest, and we must trust them to make their own way in the world.


We need to think of our businesses in the same way. At first, we need to be very hands-on – it may just be us carrying the load. Then, once it survives infancy, we can relax a little and take a step back. Then, we can separate almost completely.


Why does it need to change?

It comes back to that scary statistic: 60% of companies fail within three years. Failing businesses aren’t good for national prosperity or individual well-being.


An expanding business is twice as likely to survive. That’s good for prosperity on a national level and is immensely exciting and satisfying on a personal level. We all get into business to succeed and make money, so let’s make a big success and big money while we’re at it!


How do we change?

Real Role Models

One of the most important things we need to change is getting real role models to share their stories and experiences. The UK, like much of the world, has become obsessed with the cult of celebrity. We look up to and admire superstars, like the entrepreneurs on Dragons’ Den. The problem is that they are a few in a billion, making successful entrepreneurship seem like a winning lottery ticket.


Most successful business leaders aren’t on the television. They have quietly walked a successful path to prosperity and now keep a low profile enjoying their wealth. These are the role models we need to hear from, not celebrity entrepreneurs.


A Shift In Conversation

There is a lot of conversation around starting a business, which is a difficult stage where reading and researching do help. So, it makes sense to have conversations about how to start a business.


What gets neglected, however, is the conversation around scaling and exiting a business. In fact, this should all be part of the same conversation. Scaling and selling need to be on the horizon from the outset to spot and capitalise on the right opportunities.


Starting with the end in mind forces us to think differently. Rather than seeing the company as being an extension of oneself, it becomes a product that can grow with the marketplace and be sold when the right opportunity comes along.


Developing Know-how

Even those who have studied business or entrepreneurship struggle with knowing how to scale and sell their companies. Their go-to is often to seek investment with a fancy pitch deck. But seeking investment means selling part of their business (often more than they want) at an early stage, reducing their incentive and drive to make it successful.


For those without a formal education in business, it can be even harder. They might have a hungrier, do-or-die attitude, which can be very helpful in growing the business without investment, but they are likely to get stuck along the way.


Better role models and more conversation around scaling and selling will definitely help develop know-how as well as demonstrate that investment isn’t always the best option. We can also try to improve access to educational resources, whether formal or informal, to provide some of the more technical know-how.


How can I start to change?

If you’re an entrepreneur looking to scale and sell your business, my biggest tip would be to try to imagine what the business will look like in 10 years. Try to detach yourself when you evaluate your idea. You want to see what it could look like even if you weren’t involved.


What does the market look like in 10 years from now? Is the opportunity big enough? Which roles do you need to fill to make the business work? What will the competition look like? How will technology impact your business over the next decade?


By shifting your thinking into the longer term, you create a goal. It then becomes far easier to orient your business decisions around reaching that goal. Discover how other entrepreneurs did it to help inspire yourself, grow your confidence, and steal some good ideas in the process.




Fiona Hudson-Kelly has built two businesses and sold them for life-altering amounts of money.

Website: www.FionaHudsonKelly.com



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