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Posted 25th September 2023

13 Steps to Scaling SMEs into Big Companies

Scaling SMEs into big companies is not easy. This is due to many things, but the main reason why SMEs find it hard to scale is that they get stuck on a SME mindset in a growth stage.

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13 steps to scaling smes into big companies.

13 Steps to Scaling SMEs into Big Companies

Scaling SMEs into big companies is not easy. This is due to many things, but the main reason why SMEs find it hard to scale is that they get stuck on a SME mindset in a growth stage. 

Think about your early days as an entrepreneur: You probably needed to hire staff to support specific areas, and the company culture was less formal. Many risks had to be taken because that’s how you get to market fast. 

But things have to change once the company moves to the next phase. 

Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs resist this much-needed change until it kills their business. But how can you avoid this outcome and, instead, build a profitable, large business from your SME? We’ve shared 13 tips to help you scale your SME the right way.


1. Assess your current business state and plan for growth

As you prepare to scale, the first step is evaluating your current business state. This means: 

  • Listing all the products and services you offer and selecting one. 
  • Outlining the process of creating that product or service. This includes direct observation, employee surveys, and interviews. 
  • Creating a model for each process.
  • Identifying strengths and weaknesses.
  • Repeating these steps for other products/services.
  • Creating a report that outlines the standard process. 

If you’ve followed this step correctly, you are ready to focus on growth. Here’s how you create a growth strategy:

  • Identify your unique value proposition (UVP). Think about what differentiates you from competitors. It is why your customers keep coming back. 
  • Zoom into your most active audience. Consider who you currently serve and their characteristics. 
  • Understand your current revenue streams. At this stage, consider your revenue sources. Is there more than one? And are these extra sources sustainable?
  • Observe your competitors. Consider what they have done well and how you can replicate it.
  • Choose an area of growth. For instance, increasing revenues, launching new stores, hiring more employees, etc.
  • Conduct market research. Conducting surveys and using existing research are two ways to do this. Then, you can set realistic goals.


2. Utilize data to make the right decisions

Scaling your SME into a big company will only happen if you are intentional. So, be prepared to embrace data—a lot of it. 

Data gives you real-time insights into your business needs and unlocks a powerful synergy when combined with market research. 

However, data analytics can be overwhelming, especially for beginners. For instance, what is a data pipeline, predictive analysis, or data warehousing? While these concepts seem complex, breaking them down makes them approachable. 

Moreover, 97% of companies, including Tesla, Tesco, and Spotify invested in big data in 2002. So, it is definitely worth taking seriously.


3. Hire the right people

Speaking of making the right decisions, hiring the right people is certainly one of them. Many SME owners fall into the trap of wanting everything to be perfect. As a result, they find it hard to delegate. 

But you can’t scale without sharing responsibilities. You are better placed to grow with a team that believes in the company’s vision. 

Just make sure to provide the necessary resources they need to succeed. For instance, with a remote management tool like RealVNC, you can offer them IT support at any time. 


4. Protect your business

As your business grows, it’s important to take more precautions. One way to do that is by working with an insurance provider

Review your policy to ensure it’s adequate for the next phase of your business. For instance, if you are opening new stores, consider whether your coverage includes additional locations. 

You also want to ensure intellectual property and customer data are secure. Investing in cybersecurity keeps sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands. 


5. Leverage automation to improve efficiency 

To scale your SME successfully, you need to be able to do more in less time. This is possible by implementing automated tools that help you minimize human error and monotony while boosting productivity. 

Just as a well-managed QSR restaurant uses automation to streamline its kitchen operations and serve customers quickly, harnessing technology can enhance efficiency in your business processes.

For example, automating customer relationship management, inventory, and payroll processing can save time and resources, allowing you to focus on growth.


6. Focus on the customer experience

Customers will have a huge say in whether you scale or not. This is why you must give them a flawless experience. 

Over 44% of companies say delivering a top-notch customer experience is their biggest business priority for the next five years. So, this is something you cannot overlook. 

Personalization can make customers feel good about your business. Tailoring goods or services to individual customers’ needs will show them that you value them. And since small businesses are agile, they can often provide personalized service that larger companies can’t. 

SMEs that scale also invest in excellent customer service. Train your reps to deliver prompt and friendly service. Monitor the performance of your team via call listening and suggest improvement areas. 


7. Invest in building your brand 

Big companies know how to retain customers. They understand that keeping your present customers reduces the effort needed to reach new ones. That’s where branding comes in. Branding creates loyal customers by making your business relatable and memorable. Here are some quick tips to do it right:

  • Define your brand identity. Your brand identity is more than your brand name or business logo. Consider who you are as a company and what values you uphold. 
  • Know your audience. It helps you tailor your marketing efforts to potential customers, saving time and money.
  • Create visuals and marketing materials. You’ll need a logo, website, social media profile, and business phone number (you can get one from trusted providers like Vonage). 
  • Put together a brand book. This document will contain all the guidelines that describe how your brand behaves across all channels.


8. Engage in ethical business practices 

In your quest to grow your SME into a big company, never engage in shady practices. Customers now prefer to do business with brands that align with their values. For instance, many shoppers prefer patronizing an eco-friendly company due to rising concerns around climate change. 

Stakeholders monitor companies to see if they fulfill their corporate social responsibility (CSR). Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are also crucial in the modern landscape. These are issues that big organizations tackle with a proactive mindset and behavior. So, if you want to become a big company, you’ll need to start thinking and acting like one.


9. Avoid distractions

It’s easy to get distracted by new opportunities and ideas. However, this can shift your focus from your business. Try to avoid the temptation of offering too many products or services as a way to grow your small business. 


10. Be flexible and embrace change

In the mid-to-late 1800s, Corning, a world-class glass, ceramic, and industrial material manufacturing company, found success by mass-producing glass for Thomas Edison’s light bulbs. 

Despite this success, the company continued to evolve. It famously created the optical fiber that paved the way for internet telecommunication. Corning also manufactured the hard-to-break Gorilla Glass on technology products such as the Apple iPhone, iPad, and Watch. 

This is one example of a business that has adapted over the years. The most successful companies adapt quickly, whether to new technologies or changing customer demand. If you are serious about growing your SME, you must embrace change. 


11. Focus on your established markets 

In a bid to scale faster, one mistake many SMEs make is giving more attention to acquiring new customers. There is nothing wrong with trying to get more clients. But the moment it interferes with satisfying your current customers, it is a problem. 

A referral or customer loyalty program is a better way to get new buyers. It is cost-effective and low-risk. Another option is to try strategies that have encouraged repeat purchases.

Focusing on your current customers is also critical when you are trying to secure funding. This is because lenders care more about your immediate viability than potential growth.


12. Regularly evaluate and adjust your strategies 

From time to time, you will assess and make necessary changes. For instance, as your business grows, its needs, challenges, and opportunities evolve. Customer expectations may also change. Plus, scaling often introduces new risks. So, with regular evaluation, you can nip them in the bud.


13. Stay consistent

At the end of the day, you get as good as you give. Scaling an SME into a big company doesn’t happen overnight. You must show up every day and do the things that work. 

This is why passion is essential. It gives you extra motivation to persuade others to see your vision. Trust us, you will need to rally the troops occasionally because some days are tough. So, keep that entrepreneurial fire burning.


Wrapping up 

Growing a business is not easy. It requires patience and a strategic approach. Scale too fast, and you risk having a sizable payroll burden or customer demands you cannot meet, setting you up for long-term failure. 

Steady growth and calculated decisions about expansion are the best methods for building a sustainable business. 

Are you ready to scale your business? Get started with the tips we have shared above. 

Categories: Business Advice, News

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