The Difference Between Growing and Scaling a Business (and why it matters)

Why scaling is better than growing in your business

"Yea, but the thing is, I just really want to grow. I'm already at capacity with my current client load, so I need to hire someone else to help me grow."

This is a phrase that I hear all the time. In fact, this is a phrase that, before a few weeks ago, I said to myself constantly.


It's a hallmark of a "successful" company. When you have your own office or retail store, a bunch of employees and more things to point to as assets for your business, there's a sense of satisfaction that builds. You're GROWING. You've GROWN.

But at the end of the day, growth can be misleading, even for the most savvy business people. If you're growing your labor force, but still serving clients 1:1, how much additional revenue are you actually bringing in PLUS now having to manage people?

Sometimes, people grow their companies and hire employees, but make less money overall. Which is totally fine! But the real metrics of business often lie within your profit margins and how profitable you are. If you grow, but are less profitable, is that the kind of business you want to run?

The answer could be yes (especially in the case of restaurants or retail stores or product sellers) because you're banking on the fact that it will take some time to get your business up and running, but once you do, you'll be able to scale (there's that word again) and ship out many, many pieces of your product or serve many, many people in your restaurant.


Now this is something I'm interested in. Scale is being able to create a product or service one time and then sell and manage it with very little effort on your part.

Writing a book is an example of a scaleable product.

Digital workbooks are an example of an extremely scaleable product.

A video course is an example of a scaleable product.

You put the labor into the product one-time, and then, as your audience grows and your customer base gets bigger, you can resell the product or service over and over again.

That's scale. And that's the kind of business we should all aim to run in order to actually make a decent living and, hey, maybe take a vacation every now and then?

Why it matters?

As you know, I'm a HUGE fan of being transparent about the numbers of your business. I want you to understand just how much money you're making versus how much time you're putting in.

With growth, you can put in a whole lot less time by hiring someone, but if their productivity is lower and you spend time managing them instead of selling your products or services, you're going to lose money on your investment initially.

Growing and scaling matter because, as business owners who bootstrap their way up the business ladder, there is a misconception that income can only happen by hiring more people. And that's just not true.

It comes with being creative about being a business owner, and diversifying the ways that you interact with your customers.

Six ideas about how to scale your business:

1. Create an online course where you teach people a specific skill set. You can serve 5 people or 500 people, as long as they have access to the internet. 

2. Write an e-book, or a real book that you can sell to your audience. Other than printing costs (if you go through a traditional printer), you can write a book once, and sell it continuously with no other work than admin.

3. Find other people that do what you do and refer clients to them and take a commission for managing the project or referring the project. This is known as an "agency style" business ownership. 

4. Create a membership site, and charge people to use the content. This is somewhat of the model for many membership organizations in the area that cost money to be a part of. Online, you have access to people all over the globe, so you have far more potential to capture new members.

5. Lease out space in your home or office building (if you own it), for more than your mortgage. This is an example of passive income, and if this is a place that you put your attention, it can scale exponentially, the more space you have.

6. Create a product or service, then reach out to other people with large audiences, promising them a commission on sales (50% if it's a digital product is good incentive). This is more of a marketing tool, but once you get the audience, it's possible to scale your products even more and charge for products and services at different price points to serve different aspects of your audience.

YOUR TURN! In what ways are you growing and scaling your business? What sort of business model do you fall into and how has that changed since you started your business?