Growth and Scaling Up Aren’t the Same Things

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On December 28, 2018

Growth and Scaling Up Aren’t the Same Things

Growth and scaling up aren’t the same things. They may be inexorably connected, but they’re different—and it’s important to understand that difference.

Practically every business owner wants to grow his or her company. Rarely do business leaders turn down the opportunity for increased sales and market share. But scaling up a company for dramatic, sustained growth is something entirely different.

Can You Grow Your Business Without Scaling Up?

As a business coach, I talk and write about business transformation and scaling up all the time. It’s foundational to the business coaching I do every day.  So it may come as a bit of a surprise that my answer to the question: “Can you grow your business without scaling up?” is actually, yes! But I’d hasten to add that it’s probably not what you’re really after.

A Real-Life Example

Recently I ran into an example that illustrates—at least in part—what I’m talking about.  We often don’t think about the healthcare industry as a competitive business—but it is actually fiercelycompetitive. I read an article about a situation in a city that is home to two major healthcare providers that are vying for business. Here’s what happened.

Both of the providers have expanded their facilities. When one builds an addition to one of its facilities, you can count on the other being right behind with a similar expansion. One of the hospitals owned by one of the providers expanded their operating room capacity 10-fold. They now had the infrastructure to handle many more cases. They had the surgeons on board to accommodate the increased number of surgeries. But they ran into a problem.

They found that the tools the surgeons were relying on for procedures weren’t being adequately cleaned and sterilized. They had accounted for growth in many areas, but in one key area, they hadn’t scaled up their ability to handle the growth. The people responsible for cleaning and sterilizing tools and equipment were overwhelmed. They couldn’t keep up with the demand—and the quality of their work suffered.

Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

There is an old proverb that says, “The little foxesare ruining the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom.” The idea is that little things can make a big difference. Quality control is important for any business. In the health industry, the implications are huge. Peoples’ lives are at stake. A wrongful death lawsuit can put a hospital or company out of business.

The people responsible for the cleaning of equipment don’t make nearly the money that the surgeons or administrators make. But if they weren’t doing their jobs, everything was on the line. All the money spent to expand (infrastructure and personnel) could be wasted. The good news is that the problem was caught early and addressed before it caused any health problems (or accompanying lawsuits).

Scaling Up Is About the Big Picture and the Small Details

This is an example of why scaling up is both a big picture and a detail-oriented process. It’s about vision and it’s about execution. Your whole operation needs to be transformed in order to handle the demands of exponential growth.

That’s a big part of what transformation is all about. It’s changing the way you think about business and the way you lead your business. It’s about transforming your business from one that thinks and operates at one level—to thinking and operating at an entirely different level. And it’s about mapping out a specific plan to get there.

If that’s something you want to do, contact me so that we can talk about how to transform your business so that you can scale it up and enjoy the kind of growth you want to see!