6 Strategies to Build Scalable Business

by Donny in 6 Comments — Updated Reading Time: 14 minutes

Building a scalable business isn’t just a dream, it’s a journey that’s packed with strategies, twists, and turns. “Scalable business” might sound like jargon, but it’s a goldmine for investors and a dream for entrepreneurs. Wondering what it’s all about? We’re talking automation, outsourcing, franchising, and a whole lot more. This comprehensive guide will be your road map to business scalability success.6 Strategies To Build Scalable Business Photo

1. Maximum Automation – Transforming The Businesses into Well-Oiled Machines

A scalable business by definition cannot require a massive amount of labor. If in order to grow you have to drastically increase the number of staff, it is not a scalable business. Which means that you should start looking for the ways to automate the entire process from the get go, before you even start considering actual scaling. Constantly be on the lookout for methods to supplement the work processes with software and decreasing the number of personnel. Yes, software may incur upfront costs, sometimes rather impressive, but it will save resources in the long run and increase scalability.

Embracing Maximum Automation

Imagine an online blogger, Alex, who painstakingly curates, edits, and posts content for his followers. The popularity of his blog skyrockets, resulting in increased demand for content. However, the hours spent on each blog post remain the same, if not more. Scaling feels like a mountain too high to climb.

This struggle resonates with numerous online entrepreneurs. The concept of scaling can be daunting when it implies more work hours or hiring an extensive team. However, there’s a smarter, more efficient way – a strategy known as ‘Maximum Automation’.

Work Smart, Not Hard

In today’s digital age, technological advancements offer a world of possibilities. With a multitude of software and apps at your disposal, time-consuming manual tasks can now be automated. Let’s revisit Alex’s blogging conundrum. What if there was a tool that could curate relevant articles based on his blog’s theme, generate engaging titles, or even schedule posts? The good news is that such tools do exist.

Online Business Type
Automation Use
Order fulfillment, Inventory management, Customer service (chatbots), Email marketing
Increased sales through timely marketing, Reduced errors, Efficient inventory control, Better customer experience
Post scheduling, Social media promotion, Email newsletter distribution
Regular content distribution, Increased audience engagement, Time efficiency
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Customer onboarding, Billing and invoice management, User activity tracking, Customer support
Improved user experience, Reliable revenue management, Enhanced customer insights, Faster customer support
Online Education/Courses
Student registration, Course content delivery, Grading and feedback, Student communication
Streamlined admin tasks, Consistent course delivery, Instant grading/feedback, Efficient communication
Digital Marketing Agency
Social media post scheduling, Client reporting, Email marketing, Ad campaign management
Consistent content sharing, Transparent client reporting, Targeted marketing, Efficient ad management
Online Coaching/Consulting
Appointment scheduling, Client reminders, Session recording and transcription, Payment processing
Easy scheduling, Reduced no-shows, Valuable session transcripts, Streamlined payment process

Keep in mind, the automation opportunities and benefits can vary significantly depending on the specific circumstances of each business. Automation should be viewed as a tool to enhance human effort, not replace it entirely. It’s vital to choose the right processes to automate – those that are repetitive, time-consuming, and don’t necessarily require human creativity or problem-solving.

Don’t Count the Cost. Consider the Value

The initial investment in automation might be steep, but the long-term gains are substantial. Alex’s one-time investment in a content curation tool might appear burdensome at first. However, when considering the time saved, the consistency in post frequency, and the potential for expanding his audience, it becomes a worthwhile expenditure.

Long-Term Benefits of Automation in Online Businesses

Cost Reduction
Over the long term, automation can significantly reduce labor costs and other operational expenses.
Increased Productivity
Automation can increase productivity by speeding up routine tasks and freeing up staff to focus on more strategic, high-value tasks.
Improved Quality
Automation can reduce errors in processes like data entry, improving the quality of your service and reducing rework.
Automated processes can easily be scaled up or down to match demand, enabling your business to grow more efficiently.
Customer Satisfaction
Automated customer service tools like chatbots can provide faster, 24/7 support, improving customer satisfaction.
Enhanced Reporting
Automation can improve data collection and reporting, giving you better insights into your business performance.
Business Continuity
Automated processes can run continuously, even outside of business hours, ensuring business continuity.
By freeing up staff time, automation can foster innovation, as staff have more time to think creatively and strategically.

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Automation is not a one-time solution; it’s a continual journey of discovery and application. Always be on the lookout for innovative tools or software that could make your processes more efficient. Remember, the moment you cease to innovate is when your competition gets an edge.

In essence, automation isn’t about replacing humans; it’s about freeing up time for tasks that require human creativity and thought. It’s about turning your online business into an efficient, scalable enterprise that doesn’t merely work hard but works smart.

6 Strategies To Build Scalable Business Photo

2. Outsourcing – Your Ticket to Expansion

Picture this. Sarah, an online fashion retailer, is looking to take her booming business global. She’s ready to take the leap but struggles with managing the vast variety of tasks this expansion entails. Enter outsourcing, a game-changing strategy that can aid Sarah and many others in their journey towards a scalable online business.

Outsourcing can be a brilliant strategy if you’re expanding your online business across borders. The key is identifying which tasks to delegate to global agencies and which tasks to assign locally. Sarah, for instance, might choose to outsource her global digital marketing strategy to a single agency that understands her brand and her competition.

Example Tasks Suitable for Outsourcing

Customer Service
Outsourcing customer service can provide round-the-clock support for your customers, improving customer satisfaction.
Content Creation
Freelance writers, designers, and video editors can create engaging content for your website and social media platforms.
Social Media Management
Expert agencies can manage your social media accounts, engaging with your audience and promoting your brand.
Website Development
Professional web developers can build and maintain a high-quality website, allowing you to focus on your core business.
Specialist SEO agencies can optimize your website and content to improve your search engine rankings and online visibility.
Digital Marketing
Digital marketing agencies can manage your online advertising, email marketing, and other promotional activities.
Data Analysis
Data analysts can turn your raw business data into actionable insights, helping you to make informed decisions.
Accounting and Finance
Outsourcing your bookkeeping and financial reporting can save time and ensure accuracy and compliance.
IT Support
IT support companies can manage your tech infrastructure and solve tech issues, preventing downtime and improving productivity.
HR and Payroll
Professional HR services can manage hiring, payroll, and other HR tasks, ensuring compliance and saving time.

Keeping Your Marketing Consistent – One Agency, One Voice

Handing over all your marketing activities to a single global agency can have immense benefits. They will become intimately familiar with your brand, giving your marketing a consistent voice and ensuring it resonates with your audience, no matter where they are.

Sarah, by outsourcing her marketing to a single agency, can ensure her brand’s unique style and voice are maintained across all digital platforms, all over the world. This consistency can significantly enhance her online presence and contribute to her business’s scalability.

When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do

While a global agency can handle a plethora of tasks, there are certain areas where local knowledge trumps all. Consider tasks like event management, logistics, or complying with local laws and regulations. Local agencies have their fingers on the pulse of their regions, providing invaluable insights and services that a global agency might not be able to offer.

Sarah, for instance, would benefit immensely by partnering with local agencies for events or pop-up stores in various cities. By doing so, she can tap into their local knowledge and networks, ensuring her brand connects more authentically with local customers.


Outsourcing isn’t about replacing your core team; it’s about augmenting their capabilities and enabling them to focus on what they do best. A smart outsourcing strategy leverages the strengths of both global and local agencies, paving the way for a truly scalable online business.

Whether it’s Sarah or any other online entrepreneur, embracing outsourcing can not only help navigate the complexities of global business but also provide a competitive edge in today’s digital world.

3. Franchising – Your Business Model, Their Hard Work

Let’s join Sam on his entrepreneurial journey. Sam, the founder of a thriving online coaching platform, has worked tirelessly to build a successful business model. Now, he’s standing at the precipice of a decision that could supercharge his business growth. The pathway ahead? Franchising.

Proving Your Worth: The Initial Business Stage

The first stage of building your business is crucial. It’s your opportunity to prove the viability of your product or service, just like Sam did with his online coaching platform. The rigorous tests of the market, the feedback from your initial customers, and the refinement of your offering, all contribute to creating a successful business model.

Essential Steps in the Initial Business Stage

  • Market Testing – Validate the need and acceptance of your product/service
  • Customer Feedback – Understand your customer needs and improve accordingly
  • Refining Offering – Continuously enhance your product/service based on insights

Once you’ve established a successful business model, like Sam’s online coaching platform, franchising becomes a potential avenue for expansion. It allows you to scale faster and more effectively than trying to expand solely on your own efforts.

Advantages of Franchising for Online Businesses

  • Rapid Expansion – Allows your business model to be replicated quickly across various locations
  • Shared Investment – Franchisees bear the cost and risk of setting up new outlets
  • Increased Brand Presence – More outlets lead to enhanced brand visibility and reach

Finding the Right Franchisees Depends on Handpicking Your Business Ambassadors

Franchising your business means entrusting your successful model to others. It’s essential to find franchisees who understand your vision and are capable of bringing it to life in their own operations. Imagine Sam’s online coaching platform being adopted by dedicated franchisees who can replicate his success in different markets. Their collective efforts can propel his business to new heights.

Effective franchising is a balance of autonomy and alignment. It’s about letting your franchisees take the reins, but ensuring they adhere to the standards and principles that made your business a success.

In Sam’s case, he needs to ensure that all franchisees maintain the quality of coaching and uphold the platform’s values, ensuring a consistent and impactful customer experience across all locations.

At its core, franchising is about sharing your recipe for success and watching it come to life in various locations, carried forward by enthusiastic and capable franchisees. In the world of online businesses, it can be the launchpad for remarkable growth and scalability.

4. Licensing – Capitalizing on What You Already Have

Meet Laura, the creator of a revolutionary e-learning platform. Her unique teaching methodology has won the hearts of many, but now she’s eyeing international expansion. With limited resources and facing established competitors, Laura considers a strategy that might be her secret weapon for growth – licensing.

Licensing is about giving other businesses the rights to use your business process, often for a fee. Laura, for instance, can license her innovative e-learning methodology to existing educational platforms in other markets, allowing her to extend her reach without the cost and risk of direct expansion.

Key Components of Licensing in an Online Business

  • Business Process – The unique offering or methodology of your business
  • Licensing Agreement – The terms and conditions for using your business process
  • License Fee – The cost for another business to use your process

Licensing vs. Battling: Choosing Your Expansion Strategy Wisely

Breaking into a new market can often feel like a David vs. Goliath battle, especially when established players dominate the landscape. Licensing offers an alternative route that mitigates risk and resource expenditure. Instead of trying to outmuscle the competition, Laura can essentially partner with them, leveraging their existing market foothold to expand her business.

It can be a lifeline for startups, especially those with a single source of income like Laura’s e-learning platform, licensing can be an invaluable strategy. It allows for expansion without the need for significant capital investment. Instead of spending resources to set up in new markets, licensing can bring in a steady stream of income through license fees.

Benefits of Licensing for Startups

Revenue Generation
Licensing can provide an additional revenue stream with minimal effort after the initial agreement is established.
Brand Expansion
Licensing allows a startup to expand its brand presence without the need for significant capital investment.
Lower Risk
Licensing reduces the risks associated with entering new markets, as the licensee bears much of the risk.
Market Penetration
Licensing can facilitate faster market penetration, especially in foreign markets where local partners may have better knowledge and networks.
Cost Efficiency
Licensing allows startups to save on the cost of producing and marketing a product or service themselves.
Intellectual Property Protection
Licensing agreements can help protect a startup’s intellectual property, preventing unauthorized use.
Strategic Partnerships
Licensing can lead to strategic partnerships, opening up opportunities for collaboration and mutual growth.

Capitalizing on Existing Market Players

With licensing, Laura isn’t just avoiding head-to-head combat with established players; she’s collaborating with them for mutual benefit. It’s a strategy that allows her unique methodology to reach more students, while the licensing company adds a proven, innovative teaching method to their portfolio. In the world of scalable online businesses, licensing can often be a win-win scenario.

To sum it up, licensing provides a roadmap to expand your online business, bringing your unique processes and methods to new markets. It’s a way of turning potential competitors into allies and scaling your business in a cost-effective, efficient manner.

5. Attract Investor Money – Powering Your Scalable Business with Capital

Join Alice as she navigates the exciting yet challenging journey of scaling her online custom merchandise store. It’s an ambitious project that requires significant upfront costs, but the potential for exponential growth is tantalizing. To fuel this journey, Alice must attract the right investors.

The Different Paths of Growth and Scalability

Growing and scaling businesses walk different paths. Growth businesses often start small, with their expenses and incomes increasing hand-in-hand. Scalable businesses, like Alice’s online store, require more upfront expenses, but they hold the promise of exponential income growth with minimal additional costs.

Growth Business vs. Scalable Business

Growth Business
Scalable Business
Start-up Costs
Typically low to moderate, as growth businesses often start small and expand over time.
Generally higher, as scalable businesses often require significant upfront investment in technology and infrastructure.
Income Growth
Income usually grows linearly and is directly proportional to the resources added (like staff, new branches, etc.)
Income has the potential to grow exponentially without a proportional increase in resources due to leverage of technology and automation.
Additional Costs
Additional costs scale directly with business size. More growth typically means more personnel, more raw materials, more space, etc.
Additional costs are minimized due to the high degree of automation and scalability of digital products or services.
Speed of Scaling
Scaling is usually slower, as it requires adding more resources (such as personnel or equipment).
Scaling can be fast and massive, as it often involves reaching more customers with existing digital products or services.
Lower upfront risk due to smaller initial investment. However, there might be a higher long-term risk due to the linear growth model.
Higher upfront risk due to large initial investment, but potentially lower long-term risk if the scalable model proves successful.
Market Impact
Local or regional impact is more common as the business grows steadily and gradually.
Potentially global impact due to the ability to rapidly reach a large, international customer base.

For scalable businesses, investor money can be the lifeline that propels them to the next level. Investors offer more than just financial support; they bring industry connections, strategic advice, and market credibility – valuable assets that can help Alice’s online store thrive.

The Magic of MVPs: Attracting Investors with Proof of Concept

Investors love seeing proof that a business works before they invest. This is where the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) shines. Alice, for instance, can launch a basic version of her online store, focusing on a few select products. Once this MVP gains traction, showing that it can attract paying customers and be scaled, investors will be more likely to fund its growth.

Here are Steps to Creating a MVP

Market Research
Understand your target audience, their needs, and existing solutions. Identify the gaps your product can fill.
Define the Problem
Clearly articulate the problem that your product will solve. It should be a specific, tangible problem that a segment of your target audience faces.
Solution Ideation
Brainstorm potential solutions to the problem. Consider a variety of approaches and technologies.
Define the Value Proposition
Describe why your solution is unique and better than existing solutions. What value will it bring to the user?
Identify Key Features
What are the essential features that your product needs to solve the problem? Prioritize these over ‘nice-to-have’ features.
Create a Prototype
Build a simple prototype of your product that includes the key features. This is a working model that allows you to test the product idea.
Test the MVP
Share your MVP with a small group of target users. Gather their feedback on the functionality and usability of the product.
Analyze Feedback
Evaluate the feedback from your users. What did they like? What didn’t work well? What improvements do they suggest?
Iterate and Improve
Use the feedback to improve your product. This might involve changing features, fixing bugs, or even rethinking your solution.
Launch and Measure Success
Once you’re happy with your MVP, launch it to a wider audience. Monitor how users are interacting with the product and measure its success.

Winning Hearts, Minds, and Wallets

Presenting a successful MVP is only half the battle. Alice also needs to craft a compelling pitch that outlines her vision, highlights the scalability of her online store, and emphasizes the potential return on investment.

Ultimately, attracting investor money is an art and a science. It’s about proving your business model, presenting a persuasive case, and building lasting relationships with those willing to back your vision. In the realm of online businesses, investment can be the rocket fuel that propels your scalable business to stratospheric heights.

6. Making Yourself Redundant – Scaling Your Business Beyond You

Think about James, the innovative mind behind an acclaimed drop-shipping store. As the business flourishes, James finds himself at a crossroads – to truly scale, he needs to step back from the daily operations and focus on strategy and growth. In short, he needs to make himself redundant. But how?

The Magic of Working ‘On’ Not ‘In’ Your Business

Creating a scalable online business is akin to building a well-oiled machine – it should function and grow even without your constant input. This doesn’t mean you won’t be involved at all, but your role should pivot from ‘doing’ to ‘overseeing’. James, instead of manually tracking each shipment, should be brainstorming marketing strategies and exploring new market opportunities.

Building an A-Team: The Power of Delegation

Your journey towards redundancy begins by assembling a small, tightly-knit team of professionals. These individuals will be your Avengers, handling daily operations while you steer the ship. For James, this might mean hiring a logistics expert to manage shipments, a customer service wizard to keep clients happy, and a tech guru to maintain the website.

Examples of Roles in a Scalable Online Business Team

Sure, here’s a comprehensive table of Roles and Responsibilities in an online business:

Table: Roles and Responsibilities for an Online Business

Sets strategic direction, makes major corporate decisions
Operations Manager
Oversees daily operations, ensures efficiency
Marketing Manager
Plans and implements marketing strategies, oversees advertising and promotion
Sales Manager
Sets sales goals, manages sales team, develops customer relationships
Product Manager
Oversees product development, manages supplier relationships, ensures quality control
Customer Service Manager
Manages customer interactions, resolves complaints, maintains customer satisfaction
IT Manager
Manages tech infrastructure, implements new tech solutions, ensures cybersecurity
Social Media Manager
Manages social media platforms, creates content, interacts with customers
SEO Specialist
Implements SEO strategies, analyzes performance, optimizes website for search
Content Creator
Develops engaging content for website and social media, collaborates with marketing team
Data Analyst
Collects and analyzes business data, provides insights to guide decision-making
HR Manager
Manages hiring, training, and staff development, ensures legal compliance
Logistics Coordinator
Manages order fulfillment and delivery, handles inventory
Finance Manager
Oversees financial planning, manages budgets, ensures financial compliance

Each role is unique and crucial to the smooth operation and success of an online business. Depending on the size and nature of your business, some roles might be combined or further divided.

Trimming the Fat: Streamlining for Efficiency

As you delegate tasks, take a hard look at your processes. Is there any fat to trim? Any repetitive tasks that can be automated or eliminated? By streamlining operations, James can ensure that his team works more efficiently and his business runs smoothly even without his constant intervention.

Outsourcing: Handing Over the Reins: Outsourcing Non-Core Activities

The final step to making yourself redundant in a scalable online business involves outsourcing. Anything that isn’t a core activity can be handled by outside experts, freeing up more time for James and his team to focus on what they do best.

Example of Core vs Non-Core Activities in an online business

Core Activities
Non-Core Activities
Product Selection and Sourcing
Bookkeeping and Accounting
Branding and Marketing Strategy
IT Infrastructure and Support
Customer Interaction and Experience
Legal and Compliance Issues
Website Design and User Interface
Payroll Processing
Order Fulfillment and Logistics
Human Resources Management
Data Analysis and Performance Tracking
Facility Management (if applicable)
New Product Development
PR and Media Relations
Customer Feedback and Review Management
Administrative Tasks
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Data Entry
Social Media Management
Supply Chain Management (If not directly tied to the core product/service)

In essence, making yourself redundant isn’t about disappearing from your business; it’s about positioning yourself where you can make the most impact. It’s about entrusting your team and leveraging outside expertise, so you can steer your business towards uncharted growth.

As an endnote it would be appropriate to mention that not all business ideas are scalable. Service and consulting industries, for example, can hardly be defined as scalable, because they are very hard to automate. The same goes for innumerable small businesses scattered across the Internet – one may think that a company that operates exclusively via the web has everything it needs to be scalable, but very often something stands in the way – perhaps the market isn’t large enough, perhaps its owner simply doesn’t want it.

So, if you aim at building a scalable business model, you should very carefully consider the area in which you are going to work.

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6 thoughts on “6 Strategies to Build Scalable Business”

  1. Attract and relish investor funding. Organic growth (reinvesting profits only) will not allow you to build the “hockey stick” growth curve desired by premium buyers at exit, or financial analysts positioning you for public stock sale. You will give up some control with investors, but their expertise and experience is usually more than worth the cost.

  2. Automate to the max. A startup that is labor intensive and staff intensive is not scalable. Start early looking at production automation, proven process technologies, and minimum staff approaches, before you begin scaling. Document processes and build online training videos so new people can come online quickly and consistently.

  3. Focus on marketing and indirect channels to get the message out quickly. Direct marketing is generally not scalable, especially on low-cost high-volume products. These days, heavy marketing is always required to make your startup visible and scalable amid the flood of information from all sources to all customers. Word-of-mouth does not scale.

  4. Outsource what is non-strategic to optimize leverage. Smart entrepreneurs never outsource their core competency, and never rely on intellectual property they don’t own. They also don’t try to do everything in-house, since growing all the expertise you need is slow and expensive. Scaling requires leveraging outside resources.

  5. Use a minimum viable product (MVP) to validate the model. No product, even with a large opportunity, is ready to scale until you can show it working, with multiple customers paying the full price, to validate the business model. Count on multiple pivots with real customers, before you get it right, before you ask for investor money to scale.

  6. Build a strong team to take yourself out of the critical path. If you are still spending most of your time working “in” your business, rather than “on” your business, then you are not yet ready to scale. Show that you have and can continue to hire the right people to run the scaled business without you being everywhere and making every decision.


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