When you start a children’s activity business, there are a lot of elements to juggle. There are the myriad administrative tasks like raising money, building a budget, setting business goals, and securing a space at the beginning. Then, you quickly need to switch gears and think about writing a curriculum, organizing lesson plans, and teaching!
While the first few weeks, months, and, let’s be honest, even years of running your children’s activity business can feel overwhelming, at a certain point you start to feel more comfortable. Hopefully, you have found a group of lifelong customers and you have been able to hire staff and instructors, which takes some of the load off of your plate.
Once you reach this point, it’s not just easy sailing. Instead, you should start thinking about growing and scaling your business so that you can continue to increase your revenue numbers and reach within the community.
At Sawyer, our goal is to help children’s activity businesses manage their back-end operations, scheduling, and administrative tasks so that they can focus on making meaningful connections with families. In this guide, we outline how to scale a business, examples of scaling, and the difference between growth vs scale so that you can make the right decisions as your business matures.
What does it mean to scale a business?
When you scale a business, it means that you are growing sustainably. Your revenue is increasing without a substantial increase in resources or costs. This sets your business up for more growth in the future because you have the support you need to continue. Basically, you are bringing in more money without using more effort. Sounds pretty good, right?
Growth vs scale
Before we dive into how to scale your business and examples of scaling, it is important to review growth vs scale and how they are different. You might think growing your business is synonymous with scaling your business, but that is not the case.
Growing your business means that you are increasing your revenue but you are also increasing your resource use. Maybe you are making more money, but you are also spending more money on marketing assets and materials or running community events or hiring staff members. On the other hand, scaling your business means you are increasing your revenue but not your efforts or resources.
How to scale a business
It is important to note that most businesses need to go through a growth stage before they can begin to scale. Businesses need to make sure that they are ready for the increase in customers and demand that will come when they scale.
Before scaling, ensure that your business is ready in the following ways:
- Staff numbers. Do you have enough instructors and staff to manage the upcoming demand? Scaling your business should not result in a worse experience for your customers.
- Activities (and waitlists). When you get your name out to more and more people, you want to make sure they can actually make a purchase from the get go. Add more activities to your schedule and enable waitlists so that you can capture this new demand.
- Physical space. As you increase the number of students in your classes, you need to be able to have enough space to accommodate them. Make sure you are ready!
- Back-end capabilities. If you are planning to scale, you need to have all of your ducks in a row. You will not be able to handle this new level of demand using manual entry spreadsheets and taking bookings over the phone or via email. Utilizing a class management system like Sawyer will help your team manage as you scale.
- Funding. While scaling should not require a substantial increase in the amount of resources, you will likely need to spend some more money as the number of customers increases. Look at your budget and bank account to make sure you have what you need to support this growth.
Increasing your revenue without increasing your efforts and use of resources sounds incredible. It is a bit more difficult than it sounds, though. Here are some important tips so you can learn how to scale a business successfully.
Make a plan
Scaling a business needs to be done thoughtfully. It requires a lot of planning, organizing, and preparing. First, look at your business and ensure you are ready for what this increase in demand requires. Do you have enough staff, activities, space, and back-end capabilities? If so, you can start to map out how you want to scale (number of students, age of students, type of activities, locations, etc).
Be transparent with your team
Scaling a business requires teamwork. As you plan and map out how you will scale, keep your employees in the loop. Sit down with your staff and explain how you plan to increase the number of customers and what that means for them. Speak with your instructors about the goals for this scale: Will they start working with older students or adults? Will they have more students in their classes? Transparency with your team will keep everyone on the same page so you can successfully scale.
Work smarter, not harder
You might be wondering: How can my business increase revenue without substantially increasing efforts or resources? The key is to work smarter, not harder. Can you take a tactic that is already working for your business and increase the reach?
For example, if you find that emailing prospective families about upcoming activities, can you increase the audience size so that you are sending that email out to more people? If so, the amount of effort to build and send the email remains the same, but the revenue driven from the email will increase.
If you want to successfully scale your business, the best tip we can give is to be prepared. Your 1,000th customer should have the same experience as your 100th customer and your 1st customer. Utilizing software like Sawyer for class management, Mailchimp for email marketing and communications, Stripe for payment processing, and QuickBooks for accounting.
We hope that this guide has helped you understand how to scale a business and how Sawyer can help children’s activity businesses scale with our suite of tools, like custom forms to record allergies and t-shirt sizes, flexible payment options like gift cards and installment plans, and seamless scheduling and registration on any device.