Running a business can feel like you’re wearing all the hats. But, scaling your business successfully means asking for help from those around you. If you’re looking to scale your business in 2023 but need extra help we’ve got you covered.
We sat down with Sheree Rubinstein, the founder of digital membership and women-in-business community One Roof and our very own founder and CEO of Stella, Sam White to learn their best tips and advice for scaling your business.
We’re covering everything from nailing your product offerings to diversifying your income stream to motivating your team and understanding who should be your first hire.
Ready to take your next step in business? Keep reading to find out how to make 2023 your biggest year yet.
When hiring employees, how did you figure out who to hire first?
“I hire based on when the revenue comes in (so when we can afford it!) and based on the work that is taking up the most amount of time and that will be better for the business if it is outsourced to someone more experienced or capable. For instance, we hired a marketing and social media person to take this workload off me. It is not something I love or I’m good at but it is very important to business growth. Soon we will be hiring a Community Manager to free up more time for me and Frances (current Community Manager) to work on business development, partnerships, growth and products.” – Sheree
“If you are talking roles, then I would say your first hire should be the job that takes up most of your time that you feel least competent to do. My very first hire when I was just starting out working from my sister’s conservatory, Eleanor, who is still with the business today, took over all the admin and accounts for the business. This freed up time to concentrate on sales, a much stronger area for me, and this also enabled me to grow the business much faster. This decision may change if you aren’t bootstrapping the business of course, if you are well funded then you may make different decisions.” – Sam
What would you say was your biggest mistake in the early stages and what did you learn from it?
“My biggest mistake was probably thinking I wasn’t going to make any mistakes! I was really hard on myself when things didn’t go as I expected or when I made decisions that ultimately weren’t right things like – breaking up with a co-founder, closing co-working premises, raising capital and then having to return it and the list goes on. Mistakes are inevitable. Rather than beating myself up for it I would have accepted it sooner and taken the lessons to iterate and move forward.” – Sheree
“It’s always the same mistake for me: not listening to my gut. Early on I trusted a business partner even though they were showing me red flags. I chose to excuse their behaviour despite several inappropriate incidents. Ultimately, they ended up attacking the business and we ended up in a very stressful legal dispute that could have been avoided if I had listened to my instincts. These days I pay attention to my feelings around people and follow Maya Angelou’s quote, ‘when people show you who they are, believe them.’” – Sam
How do you motivate your team and keep them inspired?
“We have team meetings every Monday which are a great way to connect. We have an icebreaker activity every meeting to give everyone a chance to share. We also hold strategy sessions to talk about the vision and direction. We will be doing a team retreat early in 2023. Team bonding is so important!” – Sheree
“I honestly believe the best motivation for people is to empower and encourage them. Allowing people the freedom to have their own ideas and to implement those ideas has always been the best way I’ve known to motivate them. I do try my best to lead by example and to be honest about my own vulnerabilities and fears as I also think this is incredibly important as a leader. Finally creating a culture where thinking big is encouraged and where people can also support causes that are close to their heart really does go a long way.” – Sam
How do you nail your products/services/offering for your target market?
“We are in the trenches with our target market and always asking and taking on feedback. Constructive criticism is really hard to take but so important. We listen, observe, take it on and execute. We are always in the testing phase, even eight years into the business, and so we make it really easy to test and iterate. We are also always staying in touch with competitors and observing the industry and market so that we can adapt as and when we need to. We are truly adaptable in our offering which is really important. We also collaborate with our members as part of our offering.” – Sheree
“This all comes down to listening actively to your customers and operating a continuous improvement culture in the business, constantly challenging the status quo and iterating over and over again. As with most things in life if you ask people they will tell you what they like and don’t like about your business.” – Sam
What tips do you have about diversifying your income stream?
“Start with the low-hanging fruit – things like increasing pricing and offering new products or services to existing customers. For instance, we launched Inner Circle which is a group coaching program available to our members only at an additional cost. This has been a great program and a new revenue stream for the business.” – Sheree
“I’ve found the best way to diversify your income streams is to move away from your core income in incremental steps. By that I mean don’t start selling bananas when you are a makeup company. Stella started with motor insurance and added smaller add-on products (like breakdown cover) before launching Pet insurance. Ultimately, we will widen the offering to all financial products, but it’s important to walk before you run. You can also look at other countries and look to in-house services that you currently purchase from others.” – Sam
What’s one piece of advice you have for women scaling their businesses?
“Create a very solid support system to lean on as you scale. This includes employees, partners, cofounders, coaches, psychologists, advisors, investors, board members, mentors and so on. Make sure you talk to others who have walked in your shoes and who really understand the nitty-gritty of scaling. Ask for help!” – Sheree
“Don’t be afraid. I often find women have a bigger fear of failure than men. This manifests itself in a fear of taking on debt or investors. Or trying to keep the business smaller so that they can manage things themselves. As I often say, if the business is your only income stream, then if it fails at a ten million turnover it’s just as catastrophic as if it fails at a 100k turnover, so you may as well go for it. You also must learn to trust and delegate to others, or you will quickly become the barrier to your own success.” – Sam
When it comes to taking that next step in business, having the right support and plan in place can help you grow with confidence. As women, we don’t have to go it alone in life or business. The best thing you can do to set you business up for success is to hire the right people, diversify your revenue streams and don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way.
You’ve got this, lady!