Scaleup Focus Week: How can UK businesses tackle challenges when scaling?
There are many factors that come into play when scaling a business to success.
However, thousands - if not millions - of companies will face plenty of challenges along the way. Taking one step forward and going two steps back is incredibly common for many in the business industry, whether they’re a startup or scaling at a rapid pace.
With this in mind, Bdaily spoke to several business leaders on the challenges that companies face and just how they can overcome them.
Andrew Esson, ambassador and partner at Scaleup North East
“The most common challenges we come across are leadership, access to talent and access to markets.
“With leadership, it is common that scaleup business leaders are spending too much time working ‘in the business’ rather than ‘on the business’.
“One of the simple measures we advise leaders is to invest some time in getting out of their businesses and meeting with others, as invariably, whatever problem they are grappling with, someone out there will have faced the same problem and developed a great solution!
“With regards to access to talent, all growing businesses need to recruit. Some have a ready pool of talent, but for others this is a first-time experience, and they may never have engaged with either recruitment consultants, or apprentice providers.
“In a tight labour market, I will always advise businesses to seriously consider growing their own talent through graduate or apprentice recruitment.
“For access to markets, many businesses have grown to where they are through establishing relationships with a small group of customers, and the whole process identifying and engaging with a new group of customers can be daunting.
“Often, the simple advice we give is to help businesses develop and implement a systematic sales process to create a new pipeline of opportunities.”
Jonathan Oxley, member and managing partner at Lupton Fawcett
“Being able to find and afford high quality technical, professional and commercial expertise has always been and remains a major challenge.
“The solution is finding individuals and organisations prepared to ‘partner’ and take a long-term view of the relationship.”
Colin Bell, business growth director at the North East LEP
“The North East LEP is focused on increasing the density of scaleup businesses in our area by 50 per cent by 2024.
“To do this we are working hard to provide business leaders with the support they need to overcome challenges faced as they scale.
“As set out in the recently published Scaleup Institute’s Annual Review 2019, these include access to markets, leadership and talent and skills.
“This is why we offer bespoke strategies and intensive account management through Scaleup North East to help management teams increase productivity and performance and invest in transformational activity that will achieve faster growth.”
Richelle Schuster, leader of Grant Thornton’s Yorkshire and North East’s Growth 365 team
“Access to talent, finance and markets are the most obvious barriers to growth.
“I find that leadership is also a key determinator of success - and for a scaleup company it’s very often about building a team who are able to unite behind a single vision.
“Finally, being part of the right ecosystem, where the leaders of the company can access the support they need to connect to the right people, and identify the right markets is really important too.”
Sean Ball, director of marketing at durhamlane
“It comes down to the three ‘P’s; people, process and pipeline. Firstly, when expanding your team, finding best-fit sales people that resonate with your business approach and culture can take time.
“This is often a challenge that causes serious delays when a company is scaling. Secondly, developing an effective sales process can prove challenging when trying [to] scale a business.
“This is because what might have worked before, most likely won’t work as a business scales. This means that established processes need to be able to adapt and evolve to fit new requirements, ways of working and go-to-market strategies.
“Lastly, maintaining sales growth that feeds the funding of a successful scaling organisation is a real challenge.
“We believe that leaders of scale ups should spend time where they can be most effective. Often, that’s not prospecting for new business - let someone better do it so you can focus on what you do best!”
Adam Hildreth, online gaming and social media entrepreneur at Crisp
Leeds-based Crisp is a social media safety and crisis monitoring firm, established in 2005.
Adam said: “We’re a global-facing company, with many US clients, but the company’s foundations are in Leeds.
“When scaling a company, access to funding and talent are major challenges, but we haven’t been held back by being based in Yorkshire.
“When we wanted to raise $25m last year, we approached major VCs in the States who were interested in our tech and our prospects; we didn’t have to be based in London to impress them.
“Over the last year, we’ve almost doubled our staff numbers - we’re attracting staff because of, not despite, our base in the North of England.
“The challenge is to ensure that we keep the same strong company culture as we grow. We’re confident we can do that with the talent available in the region.”
Gary Mutimer, founder of RebelRebelXR
“At RebelRebelXR, we are currently undergoing our scaleup operation.
“Scaleups will most often look different for individuals or business, but the fundamentals are the same… Why do you need to scale? Is the market stable? How will you scale?
“For Rebel, the answer to [those] questions were extremely straight forward. We created a new product, tested it and took it to market, where it has been extremely well received.
“The skills gap in the North East and UK has been our main issue. To meet demand, 2020 will see us introduce our own XR Academy that will deliver both foundation degrees and [bachelor of arts].
“The Academy will cater for approximately 400-500 students per year, who will be industry ready for our business needs and will see us create at least two immersive studios here in the North East. Exciting time for Rebel.”
What do you think about this topic? We would love for you to get in touch and discuss this further.
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