3 top scale up tips from the founder of Lovecrafts
“My one piece of advice is just to start. Because by starting you begin to see opportunities. You can intellectualise markets and business models for far too long!”
Nigel Whiteoak, One of the founders of Lovecrafts.
At the second event in the series we were fortunate to hear from Nigel Whiteoak, one of the founders of Lovecrafts, the global community for makers and hobbyists. More than an online retailer, Lovecrafts is where makers and crafters go for inspiration about what to make next, find all the supplies they need to make it, and then share photos of what they have made to go on to inspire others. Nigel shared his scale up journey with an enthralled audience of entrepreneurs and small to medium sized business owners.
Here are his top 3 tips for scaling up your business.
- Having the right processes in place
One of the lessons I learned at Lovecrafts was recognising that the way we did things when we started out had to change as we grew bigger. At the beginning it can feel like you are making it all up as you go along, but that is what you need to do to maintain the enthusiasm and momentum of the start up stage. For example, we set out to provide amazing customer service from the very beginning, and we used to hand wrap every parcel in red tissue paper. As we got bigger this was no longer practical, or even possible, but we still wanted to make a parcel from Lovecrafts seem special. Nowadays we send products out in attractive, drawstring bags that our customers can use to keep all their materials together during a make.
Processes are perpetually changing for a growing business, and every entrepreneur needs to ask themselves:
“How are we going to do this? How can we reinvent or redefine this process now that we are bigger?”
Technology can help. When we started out we were a small team who knew each other very well, and communication was usually face to face. As a business grows, it becomes more challenging to communicate effectively in this way, and that’s where technology steps in. At Lovecrafts we use Slack for messaging and internal communication between team members, as well as Assana to manage tasks and projects.
- Getting the right people on board
When you are small, everyone needs to muck in and do things to keep the business going. That was certainly my experience in the early days of Lovecrafts. My two fellow founders and I might be dealing with a supplier issue one minute, but picking, packing and despatching an order the next.
As your business grows, it is essential that you hire experienced people so that you can tap into the expertise that is out there. They can show you how other organisations do things, which in turn will enable you to establish processes that work effectively in your business.
- Getting your priorities right
This is probably the hardest lesson to learn. Once your business starts to grow it seems that opportunities present themselves at every turn, and it can be tough to decide which ones are likely to be the strongest and most profitable.
I recommend that the owner of any growing businesses considers carefully which opportunities to pursue in terms of their likely profitability, the cash that they will consume and their ability to enable the business to grow rapidly. Considering your opportunities against these three criteria will help you to prioritise them effectively.
For example, we had to prioritise which marketplaces to prioritise. There is a huge culture of crafting and making in Germany, but given that we launched in English it made sense for us to focus on the US and Australian markets first. So we established dedicated websites for both the USA and Australia, and started to build supplier relationships in each location. Only once these were established did we turn our attention to the lucrative German market.
A message from O2 Business:
This was the second of five #ScaleUpSeries events, which we have launched with Enterprise Nation. Our first event featured Praveen Vijh, Founder of Eat Natural bars. You can read Praveen’s top tips for scaling a business here.
Our next event features Dhiraj Mukherjee, founder of Shazam, on Monday 9 July in London. Tickets are going fast so don’t miss your chance to learn from an entrepreneur who has been there, done it and achieved global scale up success. You can buy your tickets by clicking here. Alternatively, click here to review the other #ScaleUpSeries events on throughout the year.
Events like these are just one of the ways we can support your business growth ambitions. We’d love to hear from you and discuss the ways we could support your business even further. Get in touch today.