Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Scaling your business might sound like a dream come true. But without the proper infrastructure in place, it can quickly turn into an absolute nightmare. Trying to grow when you haven’t put solid building blocks in place is like throwing up a tent on quicksand. It won’t be long before you sink — and at that point, getting out might not be an option.
Many companies, especially newer ones, overlook the importance of infrastructure in business. Unfortunately, their oversight can often lead them to fail when they try to gain steam. A 2022 CB Insights study of failed startups revealed the top dozen reasons that can lead to an organization’s demise. Three of those reasons are related to a lack of proper infrastructure: a flawed business model (19%), a poorly hired team (14%) and stakeholder disharmony (7%).
You might want to think of constructing your infrastructure like planning a vacation. Most vacationers don’t put their families in the car and take off for the week without prior planning. They create a general road map based on their goals, their budget, the number of people and maybe some very personalized factors such as preferred types of restaurants or lodging. The road map would need to be flexible enough to handle pivots but sturdy enough to provide a definitive guide, perhaps with a few guardrails.
The same is true for business. When you’ve invested in a framework for scaling up, you reward yourself with a higher likelihood of seeing your business scaling strategy come to fruition. You also make scaling less stressful because everyone is working toward the same objectives rather than moving toward cross-purposes.
A solid infrastructure is a crucial building block to ultimately see growth and scalability in your business. Keep the following suggestions in mind to assemble your ideal infrastructure:
Related: Serve Your Employees With a Better Infrastructure
1. Make sure you have the right internal team in place
It will be challenging for your business to keep getting bigger if you have several skills and knowledge gaps in your team. The same is true if your staff is working at (or beyond) full capacity and you don’t plan on bringing in any help. If your employees feel overwhelmed or unprepared as you scale up, you’ll see your growth opportunities fall apart at the seams.
It is imperative to make sure you have the right people in place that have digital DNA and ensure your term is cross-functional with a high-level understanding of how to serve across all functions. For example, a technical person who knows how to create proper onsite functionality and work with the proper tracking tools such as pixels and tag manager will create results that are significantly more beneficial to the company.
You can start measuring your team’s strength by developing two organizational charts. The first should show your organization as it is today, and the second should show it as it needs to be for your company to scale. Be sure to pick out any places where team members will require training to participate fully. Then figure out how to deliver that training so you can remain competitive throughout the business’s rapid growth.
A recent Capterra survey indicates that nearly half of all companies asked said they were putting more funds into upskilling. Doing likewise makes sense because your employees will then be able to exhibit the confidence to master scaling, thanks to their education and the company’s reorganization.
Related: 4 Mistakes to Avoid While Scaling Up Your Infrastructure
2. Refine your marketing machine
If your marketing efforts aren’t producing impressive returns now, they won’t suddenly start working great just because you scale. You could even end up wasting dollars on poorly designed marketing campaigns that don’t reach the right audiences or deliver the data you need. As one study found, around one-quarter of all marketing budget funds could end up going down the drain for myriad reasons.
Marketing is a critical component because it sets the stage for you to bring in the leads you need to scale. Without more leads, you can’t grow — case closed. So, before you get into growth mode, you need to refine your marketing, from PPC to SEO and all the acronyms in between. Start by determining which marketing tactics are driving the most qualified prospects into the top or middle of your sales funnel. You want to hone those tactics, so start testing ways to make them produce leads on a reliable basis.
Don’t be afraid to take on a partner to outsource your marketing. Trying to do everything in-house can be both costly and challenging, particularly as your marketing becomes more complex (hint: It will!). The benefits of a partnership with an agency or provider that understands your business are widespread. You’ll have access to expertise, advanced tools and innovative strategies that you don’t usually have in-house. Even if you do have in-house marketing, the team might not be familiar with what works best in an ever-changing digital age. In contrast, an agency with multiple clients is more commonly on the cutting edge of innovation.
Plus, with an agency, you won’t have to lean so heavily on your capital expenditures and employees to deploy campaigns, track data, create content or generate and interpret reports. Most importantly, a great agency will not only increase your chances to grow successfully but also help you achieve your goals faster with less effort and total investment.
3. Be certain your product works
This might sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many companies go all out before making sure they’ve addressed glaring flaws in the items they sell. Even if you’re in a service industry, you must ensure all customer-facing experiences, features, assets and the like are ready for prime time.
Trying to gain steam when you’re not selling something worth buying makes zero sense and often creates unnecessary friction between buyers and sellers. Nevertheless, companies routinely spend about 20% of their sales income on poor-quality products that haven’t been adequately addressed. Not only will your sales and customer support representatives end up fielding unhappy calls all the time, but your brand reputation could take a terrible hit, too. As part of your infrastructure planning, be honest about any design snags in your offerings. Then spend time correcting them.
Don’t forget that processes might also deserve some tweaks. Let’s say your customers constantly complain about your time to ship. Those complaints aren’t going to evaporate when you get larger. Smoothing them out makes a lot of sense, especially during the beginning stages of growth.
Related: Moving Beyond Startup Mode: 5 Tips for Building a Solid Infrastructure
Scaling might be on your mind in the near future. Don’t rev the engine just yet, though. Make sure your infrastructure roadmap includes everything you need to make your scale adventure an unmitigated success.