There are many things to think about when you’re working towards scaling your business. How will you handle the increased workload? What systems do you need in place to support growth? How can you ensure that quality is maintained as you add new team members?
But simplification is one of the most important — and overlooked —factors to consider.
Let’s start by discussing why it’s so important to simplify before scaling as the reasons for this may surprise you.
Growth Can Add Complexity
It’s so easy to get caught up in all the hype around growing and scaling your business, but the reality is that to properly scale your business in a sustainable fashion, it’s important that you start with the simplest version possible.
As your business grows, things will inevitably become more complex. You’ll often have more products, more team members, and more moving parts.
For example, if your systems and processes are already complicated, they’re going to become even more so as you add new elements. This can lead to inefficiencies and bottlenecks, which can really drag down your business and prevent growth.
When I dig in with clients to what’s holding them back, it often comes down to things like:
- There are too many tools that manage different parts of the same process.
- They lack a cohesive strategy for organizing communication.
- There’s too much that requires their direct intervention or review because the necessary info lives only in their head.
- They have offers that look good on paper but actually aren’t profitable.
- There’s scope creep happening ALL the time because everything is a bit too custom.
For example, when I started looking into the services a former client offered in her bookkeeping business, we realized that the majority of her clients were on her micro plan that was an estimated 3 hours per month of work. However, because she had 6 different packages AND custom options, she wasn’t doing a great job of tracking what people were paying for.
So, guess what happened? Most of those micro clients were going over their hours and she was losing more money on their packages than they were paying – every single month. By cutting 50% of her clients, she increased her profitability almost overnight because she stopped hemorrhaging costs on a package that simply didn’t make sense.
Sometimes it’s not quite that cut and dried but you can usually find what’s really going on if you do deep dive on the numbers.
Another client couldn’t pinpoint why her profits didn’t match her revenue after adding several brand new revenue sources. So we dug into the day-to-day reality of managing three new physical locations and a second website with the existing systems — a simple invoicing system of a spreadsheet and word docs.
The end result? She was struggling to charge expenses properly to each supplier, double-paying some suppliers and forgetting to pay others. There was SO MUCH complexity in her business that it was virtually impossible to manage in any effective way. She had scaled before she simplified and it was a mess.
These examples show why simplifying first is essential so you can scale more effectively.
By simplifying, we mean having a business that’s stripped-down, lean, and most of all, focused. This often means taking a strategic look at what you’re offering and how you’re offering it so you can double down on the most valuable offer you have so you are best positioned to start scaling your business.
Simplicity Creates Sustainability
Let’s look at my business as an example. I’ve been offering full-service support through my agency for about six years now. After some very fast growth, I’ve been at roughly the same revenue level for the last three years.
During the last three years, I’ve tried a variety of ways to scale and each time came to the conclusion that there was a limit to what the business could handle. The reality is that at this point in my business SO MUCH of it was dependent on ME and MY BRAIN.
In early 2022, I finally accepted that if I wanted to scale my business, I had to find a way to simplify first. The irony of this is not lost on me as this is something I spend the majority of my time doing with clients, day after day and week after week — but you know that old saying about the shoemaker’s children and all that.
That’s why I said ENOUGH one morning after a particularly grueling week. I was finally ready to accept that something had to change.
I dug into the parts of the business that were really working and realized what they had in common were three main things:
The strategy was all me but the systems and processes were things I created and my team executed. They centered around supporting different types of products for clients, like podcasts, blog posts, membership content, newsletter content, and social media production.
Realizing that all the things we could truly scale with were centered around simplicity was how my new brand — Simplify Now — was born!
What’s Working in Your Business?
When I sat down to plan things out, I realized that simplifying your business was at the core of EVERYTHING that I do with clients.
Business boundaries. Deep work. Scalable offers. Systems. The list goes on and on, but they all center around the concept of simplifying before scaling.
Simplify Now made perfect sense when it came down to it.
The need to simplify your business — before growing, before adding more offers — is so often the KEY to revenue growth. It’s easy to lose sight of that amid the hype of scaling your business and hitting big revenue goals.
The reality is that a complex business is often so much harder to manage and support.
I see this in action with my clients all the time. They want to increase revenue so they want to add a brand new offer. They assume that “new” is the way to reach their goals when the offer they have already worked.
The problem is that as you add new offers multiple times per year, you end up with 47 offers that all kinda work but nothing that REALLY sings. The end result is you spend a lot of time spinning your wheels marketing those 47 different things but nothing really gets the resources and attention it needs to take off.
When you have too many “core” offers, you find yourself without enough time to market them all.
For example, one long time client made the hard decision to retire a core membership offer at the end of this year. She was tired of it and all the content creators it requires.
While it brings in 6-figures in her business for a very low price point, finding the time to properly market it with all her other much higher value offers has been tricky.
Every year, we find it harder and harder to actually maintain, let alone grow, this particular offer because there isn’t the time in the marketing calendar to actually nurture people and get them ready for it.
The same thing happens with high ticket offers. Another longtime client cut back from doing six retreats a year to four per year. It was impossible for her to grow the business with that many events during the year. The time it took to plan, fill, and execute six retreats meant there was ZERO time for anything else in her business.
The retreats were profitable bringing in multiple-6-figures of profit each year, but she had no capacity to scale because her time, the team’s time, and the marketing calendar were packed full.
This is why one of the first things I do when working with new clients is to focus on finding what’s working in their business and what’s not. We will usually start by evaluating the various offers, services, and programs that they have in order to determine which one creates the most revenue for the most strategic amount of work.
Scaling Your Business: Asking the Right Questions
If you want to simplify and scale your business, it’s important to really focus on what is working and what is making you the most money first. Once you identify that, you can then look at how you can grow that most efficiently through marketing, hiring, outsourcing, or automating.
But if you try to simplify and scale all your offers, it will be a lot harder to accomplish. It’s totally unsustainable!
If you’re ready to simplify your business so you can scale more effectively, here are some questions to get you started:
#1. Define what success looks like for you and your business.
- What does growth mean to you?
#2. Take a hard look at your products and services.
- What is the most valuable offer you have?
- The one that is easiest to sell?
- The one that generates the most revenue?
- The one that is the most profitable?
#3. Look at your marketing.
- What’s working and what isn’t?
- How can you simplify your marketing message so it’s easier for people to understand what you do and how you can help them?
#4. Evaluate your team.
- Do you have the right people in place to support growth?
- Are there areas where you can simplify or automate so you’re not doing everything yourself?
- What is needed for your team to be more effective without you?
Simplifying your business is the key to being able to scale it effectively. If you want to grow your business, start by simplifying what you’re already successful at.
This is the quickest and most effective way to scale your business sustainably.
What are your thoughts on simplifying before you scale? Leave a comment below and let me know!
Are you ready to start scaling your business but need some support?
Whether it’s podcast production, membership production, or a nagging problem in your business you need to solve, we’ve got you!
Check out our brand new Simplify Works packages to get started.