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Running a business

3 tips to scale your business

Bringing a business to fruition and — even better — profitability, is a momentous accomplishment. You’ve not only achieved a dream, you’ve made that dream a successful reality.

Often, the next step is growth. You figure, “I’ve come this far, why not go bigger?” Unfortunately, growth isn’t always as simple as we expect. The tools you used to survive in the beginning may not serve you in your attempt to scale. You’ll likely need to make foundational changes in your organization to grow the way you want.

In this episode of Mind The Business: Small Business Success Stories, hosts Austin Hankwitz and Jannese Torres-Rodriguez, and guest, Chris Triebes — founder of The WC Social Club, discuss business growth. Check out these highlights, then listen to the full episode below.

The DIKW pyramid

“The DIKW pyramid represents the relationships between data, information, knowledge, and wisdom,” says Hankawitz, who has used the tool to help guide his own business decisions. 

“Each is a building block towards a higher level of understanding of your business needs. First comes data, which is really just raw information regarding your business operations. This brings us to information, which includes making sense of your data with tools like QuickBooks. Once you have that valuable information, you can turn it into knowledge, and knowledge is power, especially as it relates to running a small business.”

From there, the final stage of the pyramid is Wisdom. “Wisdom is why we make the decisions that we do,” says Torres-Rodriguez. “Essentially, it's the knowledge applied in action.”

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Knowledge is power, especially as it relates to running a small business.

Start with the data

Whether you’ve heard of the DIKW pyramid or not, it makes sense to start your growth journey by gathering and studying your business data. It’s all part of making an informed choice. 

Triebes is the creator of a sustainable indie rock company in his hometown of Chicago. He’s gone from being an independent concert promoter to a venue manager and talent buying entrepreneur.  

In his line of work, Triebes has had to build data from all kinds of observations. “[I] look at comps, so to speak, like comparable artists [and] comparable shows in other areas of the country,” he says. This information helps him decide which bands to book, and how much to spend on their events.

Triebes looks not just at a band’s current following, but also their fans’ enthusiasm. He also considers the band’s growth over time. “An artist may have a bunch of hot tracks, but then you go look closer and [see that those tracks came out] like eight years ago. Well, is that relevant? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't,” he says. 

Similarly, small business owners must evaluate their own history to see what parts of their past data are relevant to future growth. What were the biggest successes? Are those successes still relevant today? 

Own the entire value chain of your business

As Triebes began to better understand the industry, he realized that if he wanted to increase his income, he needed to own his value chain.

Owning your “value chain” means controlling all of the activities that a business employs to create a product or service. For Triebes, that included everything from creating his own ticketing software to purchasing a venue.

“I think owning the value chain and being vertically integrated is something every small business owner should strive for,” says Hankwitz. “It relates to what I do with my small business, in trying to own that entire value chain. It's not only having the distribution right, which is my TikTok, my newsletter, [and] my social media channels, but also owning what I am distributing, which could be equity in these cool FinTech companies or other creator economy companies that I believe in and obviously own equity in.”

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Owning the value chain and being vertically integrated is something every small business owner should strive for.

If you’ve not yet taken the time to identify all the parts of your business’s value chain, here are some tips to get started:

  • Determine what activities and individuals support your business, then figure out the value and cost of those activities.
  • Understand your customers’ perception of value, and see what gaps could be filled by you. 
  • Analyze your competitors’ value chains, then identify opportunities to gain a competitive advantage.

Be patient

Scaling a business takes time, just as solid growth strategies aren’t built in a day. That can be a tough lesson for eager entrepreneurs to learn, but in the end, it’s part of what makes up the Wisdom portion of the DIKW pyramid.

“One thing I've learned is patience,” says Triebes. In this business, I used to shoot from the hip, and I've really learned to be patient and look for the right scenario. The WC is a great example of that. If I go larger, I just need to be even more careful.”

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About the Mind the Business podcast

New business? No problem. Mind the Business: Small Business Success Stories, from the team at Intuit QuickBooks, is the source for tools and resources for small business owners as they face new hills to climb. Hosts Jannese Torres (Yo Quiero Dinero podcast) and Austin Hankwitz (Rate of Return podcast) connect with entrepreneurs across industries as they start and grow their businesses. From securing funding to building a team, they'll uncover what it takes to power success.

If you're looking for tools to manage your business and capital, the team of experts at Intuit QuickBooks can get you started with free guided set-up.

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