Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.
For many smaller or newer businesses, one of their greatest long-term goals is to scale their operations. As eager as they may be, however, acting too rashly or hiring talent just to fill spots might have unintended negative consequences.
Instead, it’s crucial that companies thoughtfully consider their scaling process and go about it in a sustainable manner. This is especially true in the culture space, an industry filled with potential up-and-coming competitors.
If you’re looking to scale your business the “right” way, follow these top tips from the members of Rolling Stone Culture Council.
Vet Your Supply Chain Sustainability
It is important for new companies to scale in a sustainable way. New businesses often skip the step of vetting the sustainability of their supply chain. Cannabis is part of a larger green movement. Up-and-coming brands in the cannabis space need to be ready to answer consumer concerns about how “green” their business practices are. – Guy Rocourt, Papa and Barkley
Map Out Growth Phases
I think the best way to scale is to accurately research the business you’re building and map out the proper phases of your growth. The most common pitfall is entering a business without planning or knowledge. – Chris Blackwell, Republic Records
Get Your Team Aligned
Whether managing costs, shaping a marketing strategy or developing new products or services, what’s essential is alignment within the team. I don’t mean personalities being a “fit”—I’m talking about how critical it is for every team member to understand and be fully aligned with your business culture, its direction and purpose and the essential role that each team member plays in that. – Neil Moore, Simply Music
Review Your KPIs and Monitor Success
Each month, I personally conduct all of the accounting requirements, review all KPIs and monitor where the business is (or isn’t) having success. In addition, having an active spreadsheet of all monthly and annual expenses helps me to track all money going out. – Matt Campbell, My Wedding Songs
Build a Minimum Viable Product
Utilize an MVP (minimum viable product) to execute a proof of concept with all demographics of customers. Following feedback from proof of concept, listen to the customer and build a go-to-market strategy around the core response from the proof of concept. Surround yourself with individuals who are smarter than you, have strengths where you have weaknesses and, most importantly, individuals who are passionate not just about the product but also the culture you live by. – Jennifer Randall-Collins, PROOF Alcohol Ice Cream
Listen to User Feedback
The most important thing you can do to scale your business is to listen to your users’ feedback, or in some cases your community’s, and build off this. This ensures you’re progressing your product or platform by known demand, mitigating the risk of poor results. – Jeff Holmberg, Terra Virtua
Find and Hire the Right Talent
Finding talent that is trustworthy as well as competent and passionate is the holy grail. Taking the time to properly interview a candidate in a professional setting is just as important as checking references. I look at a candidate’s social media to help understand if someone is a good fit for my company culture. Fitting the company culture is vital to proper assimilation. – Cynthia Salarizadeh, House of Saka, Inc.
Be Prepared for the Long Haul
It’s important to understand that building a sustainable business takes time. Ultimately the goal of any business is to find people willing to pay you for a good or service. Listen to your customers and they will tell you exactly what they are willing to spend their money on. There’s no need to guess. – Tommy Stalknecht, Single Music
Take Your Time Hiring
Scaling is all about the right team and clear communication. Take your time in the hiring process. Key employees can generate new revenue and streamline weaker areas of the company. It’s not always about how many people you have; it’s more about who you have. – Mark Shami, The M Jewelers
Acknowledge Market Trends, But Be Authentic to Your Brand
It is important to acknowledge the market trends, but most importantly be authentic and stay true to your art, all while staying relevant. Taking the right steps to get closer to your audience is vital and now easier via social media. And this is not just about having your followers supporting you—you also have to engage and listen to them. – Victoria Kennedy, Victorious PR
Ask the Right Questions and Be Open-Minded
I believe that it is important to focus on asking the right questions and being open-minded about the answers that we receive. In my earlier years in business, I allowed myself to believe that I just had to work hard and stay on track toward my vision for the company to succeed. Now I understand the value of surrounding myself with intelligent people and listening intently to their insights. – Julie McQueen, CarbonTV
Network With Talent Outside Your Industry
Always network and speak with talent from other industries to build rapport and get people familiar with your brand. Some of the best relationships come from existing connections who possess a complementary skill set that you may not have thought of or realized could be a fit within your business, whether on a contract basis or via direct employment. – Carlos Aybar, Mishu Music
Hire for Skills
Hire based on skill set. At ShearShare, we’ve never been impressed with a candidate’s curriculum vitae as it relates to degrees earned or universities attended. We focus on how a person’s unique skill set has moved the needle in past roles and how they can amplify that at ShearShare, to help better serve our community. – Dr. Tye Caldwell, ShearShare, Inc.
Don’t Scale Before You’re Ready
Don’t scale until you feel the pain. The biggest mistake you can make is hiring just for hiring’s sake or signing that long-term contract for a service you don’t really need yet. Go as far as you can with the team and tools you already employ. Only once you feel the pain of not having that particular role, service, tool, etc. should you go out and make the hire or sign that service agreement. – James Simpson, GoldFire Studios