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E-Commerce series: the three fundamental rules when scaling your online business
19 May 2022 | Minutes to read: 3

E-Commerce series: the three fundamental rules when scaling your online business

By Eric Flammang

You have conducted your research and backed it up with solid business and marketing plans which will evolve with your online business. Your business is live, you’re making sales, and all is going well. So, what’s next? It is now time to scale up!

Be careful. It can be tempting to move fast. But go big or go home may not be the best strategy in your circumstances. Faster is not always smarter, especially for online businesses looking to connect consumers with local services, in which case balancing supply and demand is ever more critical and it can be better to dominate one market first, then adjust the strategy accordingly.

Resist the urge to expand too quickly

With the increased sophistication of applications that can easily connect your business with customers in worldwide markets, it’s theoretically possible to launch in multiple cities or countries at once, going from 0 to 100 in a matter of weeks.

Steve Jobs once said: “Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean and make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

This is the mantra of some of the most successful e-commerce businesses I have worked with. Before expanding outward, your business needs to build a strong network in select core areas to ensure that supply and demand is evenly matched. This can be a constant balancing act that most business gurus of this world still do not completely master. Expect the early days to be a constant quest to achieve this equation. Regardless, when a flood of orders or bookings come in, your business needs to cope with the demand, otherwise, your reputation could suffer, and your business might die as quickly as it was born. I’ve seen many online businesses fall victim to their own success, unable to cope with the demand.

You need to test the market and look for ‘leading indicators and metrics‘ to predict how to manage supply against demand. By analysing progress and results, online businesses can understand trends including sales performance, average order value, and sales growth factors. In other words, focus on building quality supply in a contained area, and the demand will come. Then, scaling will be a natural, organic, managed and sustainable progression.

Choose your markets strategically

Be selective about the markets you choose to enter. At times, sacrificing immediate revenue growth for long-term strategy is the best business decision. It is far more valuable for an online business to double its growth in a large market than it is to quadruple its growth in a market that’s much smaller. Focus is key, and quality is better than quantity.

I always recommend a’go-to-market‘ (GTM) strategy. This concept has been covered in our previous series, but as a refresher, a GTM is a step-by-step plan created to successfully launch a product to market. An effective GTM strategy identifies a target audience, includes a marketing plan, and outlines a sales strategy. A GTM strategy identifies a market problem and positions the product as a solution. It’s a handy roadmap that measures the viability of a solution’s success and predicts its performance based on market research, prior examples, and competitive data.

Even when injecting great amounts of effort, time, money, and resources into developing an online product or service, a poorly planned go-to-market strategy could easily cause a project to flop.

Don’t go big, go smart.

Strive for improvement

Scaling your business and attracting more customers will only remain a dream if you, the business owner, do not constantly improve the quality and/or range of goods and services you offer.

’The customers is king‘, and you should take any feedback constructively to improve your product or service. Make the king happy and your business will reign longer in a prosperous online world.

You should also understand that you cannot do everything better than everyone else. A ’one-man / woman show‘ is not going to help you scale. Rather than managing every activity of your business, hire experts that can do certain jobs for you effectively. For instance, if social media  is not your strong suit, hire a social media manager. This will ensure your business’s profiles stay up to date and that you engage with followers and respond to customer enquiries.

You must also scale up your internal processes. Automation is key here. And with a range of software and applications available, you can easily automate this aspect of your online business. While these can be costly, implementing automation will most certainly be worth your while as it will increase productivity and give you back time and energy to focus on driving the business and its overall strategic direction.

Just like building a profitable business, scaling up a business also takes time. There are no magical steps or secret tips that can double the size of your business overnight. You must work smartly and consistently to scale up your business and reach the pinnacle of success.

E-Commerce series: the three fundamental rules when scaling your online business

Eric Flammang

Eric is a registered tax agent and member of the Institute of Chartered Accountant of Australia and New Zealand and holds a Master of Professional Accounting and Master of International Tourism & Hospitality Management.

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