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The Scale Model – A Review

SCALE-The Scale Model Book
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Last year, my business partner and I decided it was time to shake things up a bit. We run a content agency and we’ve been pretty successful in the 12+ years we’ve been in business – anything over two years is good mileage for a small business and it’s a very competitive sector we work in, so we’re happy with that. We have several longstanding clients, a mix of private, public and voluntary sector, big and small, who like what we do and keep coming back for more. Plus we have a good reputation in our field – we are known for our sector expertise and for producing high quality work. So we should be satisfied with that, right?

But, we want more. We want to move our business up to the next level. And, although we have a strong industry profile, people who haven’t worked with us don’t necessarily understand the full gamut of services that we offer. We produce content, yes, but our content engine is informed by what we do and what we know – we have created employee and customer listening programmes and carry out lots of insights gathering, for example, and this generates material that we turn into great thought leadership content.

So we made the decision this year to get ourselves known not just for our content and industry know-how, but also for the other stuff – the strategic work that underpins everything else. But how? In the past, all of our work has come to us by word of mouth – recommendations from our clients – which is great in that they obviously like what we do, but it has meant that we haven’t gone out to market looking for business. We haven’t actually marketed ourselves. Too busy helping everybody else with their own marketing!

We’ve also been guilty of doing what small business owners do – being so busy with work in the business that it’s hard to set aside dedicated time each week to working on the business. It takes a lot of discipline to step out of the day to day of running a fast-paced, deadline-driven agency, juggling multiple projects and clients simultaneously. Fitting in regular, really focused business planning was evidently going to mean one thing – time in the evenings and at weekends.

So that’s the why – the business problem if you like. Now it’s time for the what and the how. For us, the what and the how started with picking up this book called The Scale Model: How to Set Up and Run a Successful Enterprise. We had quite a clear view of what we wanted to achieve, but figured that a little injection of something else and some external input, without paying for a consultant, could help us on our journey.

“Using a proven methodology that is easy to understand and implement, business teams can learn how to diagnose and solve barriers to growth. The Scale Model equips CEOs and senior leaders with a framework to assess where the pain points lie in their business, and easy-to-use templates to help them work out the solutions to enable continued growth.”

That’s what it said on the tin (otherwise known as the blurb) and it sounded like it could work for us. We already knew where our pain points were, so were interested to see if the process yielded any solutions we hadn’t thought of. Or if there were new as yet undiscovered pain points! The idea of a framework and easy-to-use templates was also appealing.

The book arrived and I liked what I read in the first couple of pages, in the foreword:

  • You run a business. Maybe you started out as a ‘practitioner’ – an expert in a specific field who does not view business or being an ‘entrepreneur’ as your primary vocation, you are something else first. Maybe business was never your first interest, or focus of your academic interest.
  • You read business books, and find them useful, but they contain a lot of unnecessary terminology and breathless promises of the world, without being a practical guide on what to do.
  • You’re constantly hitting bottlenecks to further growth and getting frustrated with them.
  • Maybe you’ve had an insight, an idea on how the business might grow, or a knowledge of your market and industry that you could use to drive growth, and you want to scratch that itch, to see if you can really make it work
  • You have friends or people in your network that have sold their companies and made good money from it, and you’re wondering how to achieve this for your business.

This last point is only partly true. We are not at a stage where we want to sell the business, but it’s definitely worth thinking about for a few more years down the line when retirement beckons.

It has been three months since purchasing The Scale Model and it has been a useful exercise. Working through the book, using the framework and the checklists has enabled us to look at the business with fresh eyes. Our business has changed since we set it up all those years ago and the market we operate in has changed too and it’s always good to take a step back and consider what you’re doing and why.

The process has helped us make time each week to focus on what we want to achieve, how and why. And it has helped us to sharpen up our slide decks and messaging so that we can tell the world about what we do.

Obviously it’s still early days, so no useful metrics yet I’m afraid. But we’ve had a couple of big wins recently. They would have come off, with or without this business planning, but we definitely felt that our new look decks and offer details made a good impression.

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