I see daily discussions regarding scalable business models.  A reoccurring point I see when the discussion of scalable business comes up is the immediacy of growth.

I understand that growth is necessary, but there is one issue that seems to be missing from the scalability conversation – sustainability.  It is important to remember that unadulterated growth without a sustainability model can cripple a business let alone possibly destroy a business.

Most times scalability is placed into the context of a start up.  However, there are many inflection points in a business that can affect scalability; influx of investment capital, taking on a new partner, buy out of an existing partner, deploying a sales team, etc.  At each of these inflection points a new push for scalability may happen.  So the next question is “how do I create a sustainable scalable model?”  Let’s take a look.

Reflect:
The first point is to understand why you are scaling.  Is your scalability for profit growth, to be investable, or to build brand awareness?  It is important to know why you are scaling because it sets the foundation for the sustainability of your scaling efforts.  If you are scaling for brand awareness, you will want to ensure you have a team in place that can manage all the facets of what is needed to scale the brand – a brand manager, a social media manager, a graphics team, a video team, etc.  To begin brand awareness scalability without having the team in place to provide the sustainability of the scaling process will only lead to frustration and missed opportunities.  In the reflection phase, you must focus on your core strengths within your business so you can leverage them inside your scalable opportunity.

Plan:
The second point is to understand your scalability plan (I like to call it the scalability map).  This is where you create a mini-business plan or mind map to guide the scalability actions in the future.  Here you will outline, in writing, sustainable solutions that will create and promote the scalability of your business based on your core strengths and the team or skills you possess or need to acquire.  Notice, I did not state quick and cheap solutions. No, we are focused on developing lasting solutions that provide more opportunity for scalability in the future.  Do your best to review your scalability map as if this decision to scale will affect your business one year, three years, five years or ten years down the road.  Just as you would in a business plan, set scalability goals with time frames associated with them.

Act:
Now that you know why you are scaling and have your plan for sustained scalability, you must act.  In this action phase you must leverage your core strengths and your team or skills to implement your plan.  Be advised that as you act the plan will change.  As fluid and straight line as you think your scalability will be, there will come bumps in the road.  As you act, constantly refer back to your reflection phase and your scalability plan / map to make sure you are not distracted or tempted by quick opportunities that take you off your mission towards sustained scalability.  Assess your team and your core strengths as you act to ensure they are being maximized to achieve your goals.  Finally, measure your scalability based on the goals you planned to reach.

Scalability is important if you want your business to grow beyond its current state, but sustainable scalability will provide a smoother and more opportunistic path for the long term success of your business.