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Sustainable scaling: what it is and how you do it


In days gone by, scaling a company would mean using every resource available at the same time to push growth in every area of business. This was underscored by a pressure to drive forward at all costs. But mentalities have shifted.

A sustainable approach to scaling is much more desirable, effective and, quite frankly, a better strategy. Sustainable scaling means optimising your resources, efficiency and time to gradually build your business to create long-term success. This doesn’t mean there aren’t flurries of business activity – moments are made for ‘big bang’ opportunities and momentum in growing the company, be that with headcount, revenue or publicity. It’s all about being smart. 

When it comes to activating this sustainable approach with publicity, it circles around doing more for less. It could take the form of a business plan that creates ongoing visibility and awareness for different priorities, or an agency team working alongside you to carry out this strategy. 

The first two articles of our series have covered securing funding and finding talent. So, how do you build on this base to scale sustainably and effectively? 

Know your goals – where do you want to grow? 

Being agile and adaptive to what comes your way is essential to scaling. With growth will come more opportunities and added business requirements. But knowing when to slow down or fall in line with capabilities is just as important. Scaling too quickly can leave you scrambling to meet demand, with some departments, such as sales, rapidly growing, leaving other departments, such as accounts, struggling to keep up with the increase in workload. Likewise, by onboarding too many employees too quickly, the culture you worked so hard to create can become fractured. . 

This is why you need to develop a sustainable growth plan, knowing what areas you want to grow when, and also planning how this will affect other departments. For example, you may have developed your product and business connections enough to have a sustainable stream of revenue. Now, you wish to establish your brand image and identity, creating a public profile that will allow you to grow outwardly and attract other forms of interest, from clientele and media to new recruits and stakeholders. 

When this comes to PR and entering the media world, it’s important to understand what this move entails and the ways in which it can be achieved. 

Optimise resources – are you ready to get out there? 

If you are looking to expand publicity, this is going to add new commitments and demands to your team’s time; your team needs to be ready for new ventures. Do you have the capacity to do this in house? Do you have spokespeople ready to provide comments or create thought leadership content? If you have an agile agency to hand, these demands are subdued. 

Large companies will often have their own department for communications. Yet even these departments often use outsourcers for any additional needs they require, from copywriters and graphic designers to extended PR teams and social media managers. Leveraging external talent can be a ready-made option for taking this next step in your growth.

When outsourcing, you are gaining a whole team of expertise for the equivalent cost of one or two employees. Demand and requirements can fluctuate with business needs, creating an agility that lends itself to a sustainable approach. 

Adopt sustainable comms – how can you scale? 

Once the brand has been launched and the machine is up and running, you can adopt a sustainable comms strategy. The scattergun approach of bombarding customers with non-targeted content, for example – if not aligned to campaigns or strategies – can result in a waste of time, money and resources. One eye-catching and compelling news story or riveting award entry can have much more impact than trying to cover too many items or categories in one go and missing out on quality as a result. 

At the same time, a steady, constant stream of varying content can generate a more sustainable output than trying to push out everything all at once. Campaigns can be bold, innovative and ongoing – it’s about having a manageable and effective machine ticking over. With this approach, it then becomes far easier to jump on news stories or trends as they happen, as the process is established and running. 

Stop-start strategies can require more energy to reboot than keeping them slick and maintained. It’s more about reducing the level of output when it is not necessary and picking the right times to launch new initiatives. This can work either in response to company needs and growth metrics or with trends, news items and innovations happening in the industry. Sustainable comms is about smart content management and outreach, crafting pieces and timing their release for the maximum effect. 

Sustainably growing 

Rather than achieving flash in the pan growth or going above capabilities, sustainable scaling allows you to develop your business in line with your capacity. This comes from understanding where you wish to grow, what tools you can use to ‘get out there’ and how you can adopt a sustainable comms strategy. It’s a smart plan focused on delivering short and long-term value to allow you to keep reaching new audiences. Sustainable and steady wins the scaling race.

Leah Jones, Deputy Managing Director at CommsCo

This article is part of a partnership with The CommsCo. For partnering opportunities, contact [email protected]m or [email protected]

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