If you’ve been an entrepreneur for a while, you’ve likely heard these two terms. But – contrary to what a lot of business owners believe – they’re not interchangeable.
Growing and Scaling your business are two very different things. Think of it like a snowball rolling down a hill out of control, getting bigger at random. That’s growth. If you’re controlling that snowball as it rolls, choosing how it’s going to get bigger, you’re scaling.
Growing is something that happens to your business; scaling is something you do to your business. The difference is whether you’re being intentional.
Growing a business is out of your control
I’ve seen a lot of businesses fold up during what I call the “growing pains” stage. Their demand, their revenue, their clientele skyrocketed but they weren’t prepared for it. They had no foundations in place to deal with such huge growth – and the business suffered.
When I started my Virtual CFO and Financial Clarity coaching business, it was just a side hustle to support my Sephora habit (honestly!) I had some systems in place to support a small little side business, but nothing more.
It turned out that my business was really needed, and it completely snowballed. Suddenly, the little processes I had in place for my pocket-money business weren’t enough, and I was in over my head.
I had to completely break down the processes and systems I had in place and adapt them to meet the demands of my booming business.
I did not intentionally grow my business – it just happened!
When you start out in the entrepreneur life, you feel like you don’t have the luxury to say no to potential clients. So you take on more and more, and before you know it, you’re overwhelmed.
That’s when you need to take a step back and decide to be intentional about moving your business to the next phase.
Knowing what’s happening in your business is key
Growing pains – if you don’t take control of them – can truly destroy a business. I’ve seen episodes of Shark Tank where an entrepreneur is on track for $5 million, and they burst into tears because they’re exhausted. It wasn’t intentional.
Scaling is something that you do to your business. You make decisions about what to do and where to go, and you’re fully in control of the direction your business takes.
If you’re seeing your numbers, your revenue going up – I want you to take a minute. Have a breather, take a timeout, and decide whether you’re growing or whether you’re intentionally scaling.
Knowing what you’re dealing with is the only way you’re going to make it a success.
Scaling is done with Intention
When my business was growing, it was just snowballing. I had no control over it. I had to make the time to sit down and look at all the systems and processes I had in place to see how I could regain that control.
But with knowledge comes power. Through organizing my business, I was able to see how many clients I would need to take on to meet my financial goals. And it was a number that I wasn’t comfortable with.
If I had the number of clients that I needed, I would be risking the quality of my work and my reputation to fit everything in. I wasn’t prepared to take that risk. But I knew I wanted to scale.
That’s when the intention came in – I decided to pivot to creating digital products that would still offer the help that some clients needed, without having to take on more than I could handle.
By creating my suite of digital products I was able to still stay true to my mission – eliminating entrepreneurial poverty. But in order for my business to be scalable, I had to cut back on the amount of Done For You services I was offering.
When my little side hustle first started growing, it was by word of mouth and clients were coming in to me – without me knowing how to keep on top of it all. When I moved to creating more digital products and reducing my services, I was able to increase my revenue without working 60 – 70 hour weeks.
I was intentional.
Yes, we all want to make more money. That’s why we started our businesses, right? If your business is in a growth phase, you have no control over it. When you’re scaling, you’re making intentional choices for your business future.
You can watch my live training on YouTube to find out a bit more about growing vs scaling your business, and why it really, really matters. The main thing I want you to take away from this is that it’s essential to know which phase your business is in, and how to move from growing to scaling with intention.
If you have any questions or want help identifying where your business is right now, drop me a message on Instagram. I am really hoping to empower all small business owners to be intentional about their businesses – and everything in their lives!