By Pedro Langa
The key to building a powerful, profitable business is learning how to quickly scale your options to take advantage of new opportunities. But scaling a business is not without risks. You need to make sure you have a dependable team, a strong culture, and the ability to pivot to where the market is going rather than react to where the market has been.
When scaling your business, focus on three areas in particular: your remote team, your data security, and vetting new markets.
Growing a Cohesive Remote Team
Thanks to the web, you are no longer limited to a specific geographic region when looking for top talent. You can now build a remote team filled with talented, hard-working people from around the globe. But you need your team to be cohesive to make sure all the members of your remote team have been vetted, and to make sure they all buy into the existing culture of the business.
Team cohesion is not something you can bottle. It can only be built through communication and the experience of working together. If you want to build a cohesive team, you need to:
- Make it easy for team members to communicate with each other
- Keep the team stable and avoid turnover
- Make sure the business’s expectations are clear for each project
- Have regular, short meetings
- Have a private feedback mechanism
Most businesses will need to take advantage of some type of project management system like Basecamp or Asana. This helps keeps projects organized, provides a way for everyone to communicate, and provides accountability.
Beyond implementing a project management system, team cohesion is also heavily influenced by who you invite to be on your team. Vet potential team members for skill, reliability and compatibility with the business culture. This requires interviewing all candidates. A conversation over email is not enough; have at least a brief Skype conversation to see how candidates respond to your questions.
The more time you invest into your remote team, the better quality team you will assemble, and the faster the team will gel together.
Making Sure Your Data Is Secure
Your two most valuable assets are your people and your data. The bigger you grow, the more valuable your data is to hackers and to competitors. If the private data of your customer base is compromised, it can ruin your company. If your sensitive business data were to fall into the hands of your competitors, it could cost you your position in the marketplace and waste any efforts you have invested in innovation.
Here are some of the key steps you need to take to make sure your data is secure:
- Strictly limit access to the data
- Hold team members accountable for security
- Keep all devices up to date
- Carefully vet IT partners
- Securely backup all data at an offsite location
Your people are often your biggest points of vulnerability when it comes to data security. Outsiders typically gain access to a secure system through malware sent via email, through poor password safety practices, or through an employing knowingly cooperating with an attacker.
As you scale your business, you must keep tight control over who has access to what systems, how passwords are managed, and how data access is monitored. The strongest system in the world will do you no good if someone on your team unwillingly hands over the keys. Make sure you treat data security like the future of your business depends on it — because it does.
Vetting New Markets
If you are going to scale your business, you will need to find new markets to tap. When vetting a potential market, you have to move beyond a simple, “Do they need me?” level of inquiry. Ask the following questions when evaluating a potential market:
- Can the potential customers afford you?
- Is the market saturated?
- How cheap and fast can you test the market with a new offering?
- What is the growth potential of the market in the next five, 10 and 25 years?
- Is the new market compatible with your business culture and philosophy?
Entering a new market is always risky. Businesses that succeed know how to manage risk. Make sure that a given market has enough capacity to not only allow you to sell your goods and services, but is dynamic enough to allow you to grow your profits for a long time.
If the market is likely to disappear in five years, you would need much larger profits and growth in a short period of time to justify the risk of entering. But, if a market is going to be around for a decade or more, you have a longer timeframe to build a business that will generate profits that grow exponentially.
It is also important to remember that your business is about more than profits. You need to be willing to bypass opportunities that are not compatible with your culture and philosophy. If you lose the sense of who you are as a business, it will be much harder to grow in the future.
Scaling your business is exciting. As you build for the future, make sure you focus on the growth of your remote team, your data security, and how you vet new markets. If you get these three areas right, you will have a solid foundation on which to build your empire.
Pedro Langa is an entrepreneur, investor and startup advisor.