Most everyone who runs a small business dreams of dramatic, exponential success, and an easy path to it. But most everyone who’s done it knows it’s neither quick nor easy.
To learn more about the essential do’s and don’ts of building exponential, sustainable growth for small businesses, I was excited to catch up with digital marketer Babak Azad. Babak certainly knows something about scaling businesses.
When Babak left his role as SVP, Media and Acquisition of Beachbody, the company had just eclipsed $1 billion in sales, up dramatically from when he joined 8 years prior when the company had $100MM in sales. In this most recent role there, he headed up management of all offline and online media (over half a billion dollars in media was spent, and over 10 million customers were acquired across the phone channel, website and on Amazon). He also built out the teams focused on social media and landing page optimization, and oversaw the telesales team which managed 10 third-party call centers. Currently, Babak is Founder of Round Two Partners, where he works with a select number of clients to scale and optimize their performance marketing businesses.
Babak shares his insider tips and insights on scaling businesses and building exponential growth:
Kathy Caprino: Babak, in evaluating businesses, what has to be in place before a business can scale? What are the essentials that create a strong foundation?
Babak Azad: There are some foundational aspects to your business that you’ll have to put in place. If you’re going to truly scale, you’ll need a team to do so. Vet people carefully – a lot of people talk a big game but don’t have the results to support the way they speak. Then, once you have the people in place, take care of them. Know that every person has what I refer to as their “Irrational Passion.” Meaning, that one thing that they get so jazzed about, whether personally or professionally, that when you tap into it, they’ll know you actually care and they’ll love you for it. For many folks, these types of things can be perceived as more valuable than financial compensation.
More tactically, you have to look at your business and examine what needs to change if you have 10 or 50 times the sales that you have today. This is where business operations are crucial. Likely you’ll have to upgrade your technology and analytics tools. If you have a physical product you’ll need to improve your supply chain.
You’ll also have to create more processes and business structure.While this might sound like bureaucracy (it’s not if done well), the reality is that as you scale, you can’t have everything or everyone in the same room. There are too many decisions to be made, so you have to start professionalizing how your business is set up and operates.
Caprino: Once the foundation is in place, what are your top 5 tips to help small businesses scale and accelerate their growth?
Azad: From my experience in helping Beachbody grow its business tenfold, and now as the founder of Round Two Partners, here are my top 5 tips for accelerating growth for small businesses:
#1. Build a valuable, compelling offer
First and foremost, you need a compelling offer that converts. Make sure that what you’re offering customers is of value, differentiated, and offered in a way that benefits both your customers and the business. If you don’t have something that generates sales, a) the market is telling you something; and b) everything else is moot unless you have those sales.
#2. Be relentless about increasing customer lifetime value
Do it in a way that is constantly brand-enhancing. It’s easy to think that maximizing front-end sales is the path towards winning. To a big extent, it is. But if you’re not doing so in a way that helps to build the brand, it’s likely that your wins will be limited to the shorter-term.
#3. Exploit what works
Once you find something that works (in terms of offer and channel), exploit it as much as possible. Be less worried about being everywhere at the cost of not taking advantage of something that is already working. Too many companies try to be great at too many things, instead of going hard on what’s working.
#4. Create a powerful customer experience
Recognize that we are now in an “experience” world – create a great experience for your customers by working to constantly improve your products, how you treat your customers, and by building a community where they can feel that they are part of something bigger than you or themselves.
#5. Don’t try to outsource your success
Know that you have to own your success. Partners can be super helpful, but ultimately, you can’t outsource your success. Figure out what the critical components of your business are – and while you may not become a master of each yourself, the more you understand them, the better you can help your team and partners do the things that have the highest impact, which also means minimizing the time spent on low-leverage activities.
Caprino: What are some of the biggest mistakes and costly blunders you see small businesses make, when it comes to attempting to grow and increase profitability?
Azad: Once you have the foundation in place and are ready to take the five steps to scaling your business, there are certain mistakes you should do your best to avoid, in particular ones that I’ve seen many small businesses make.
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