Total Business Magazine

Overcoming Scale-up Anxiety

Making the transition from start-up to scale-up is a significant moment for any business. While this step-change is an exciting time, for many it brings with it new challenges as well as opportunities. To explore this further, research from Barclaycard has shown that over half (57%) of scale-up business leaders have experienced a moment during the process of growing from start-up to scale-up, when they were afraid their business would fail entirely.

With so many companies facing a crisis of confidence, we’ve looked at some of the most common fear factors associated with scaling up and how businesses can tackle them head on to ensure they make the most of this pivotal phase in their business’s lifecycle.


Common fear factors

For starters, as a business expands, issues such as employee management can suddenly become a much greater concern. Whether from learning how to manage an expanding workforce to meet the needs of a growing business, dealing with the challenges surrounding employee wellbeing, or attracting new talent into the organisation – 6 in 10 business leaders cite employee resourcing issues as key sources of worry.

Customer service was also a top priority for companies we surveyed, with 63% of companies* identifying that maintaining a consistent level of service is also a concern that weighs heavily, as it becomes increasingly important to differentiate and carve out a unique space for the company amongst a new set of competitors.

So given the worries and concerns that surround scaling up, we have identified some top tips that businesses can take on board, in order to make the process as painless as possible.


How to thrive under new pressures: Top tips

  1. Be open to advice

One of the most important things for businesses to do as they enter the scale-up phase is to be open to outside help. As the demands of an expanding business rise, it can be helpful to utilise people within your network who can offer advice on how to grow successfully – whether this is accessing expertise through your existing suppliers such as your bank or payment provider, or simply speaking to more experienced business leaders in your industry.

Seeking out and identifying sources of outside expertise as well as being willing to invest in existing advisory networks and partnerships can provide a fresh perspective on the challenges your business is facing.

  1. Take advantage of new technologies

As a business grows, new technologies can make internal business processes more efficient, and help reduce the stresses associated with an increasing workload.

New automated technology offerings can be instrumental in increasing productivity and efficiency, freeing up time to spend moving the business to the next level as it scales up. Many companies, for example, have adopted new data programmes, allowing them to make the most of transactional data. In doing so, they have drawn out performance data insights to help them better understand who their customers are and how they can better streamline their experience.

  1. Make customer experience your competitive advantage

As a business’s customer base grows, it becomes increasingly important to focus on customer experience – this can be make-or-break for businesses that are scaling up. For those who get it right, this presents a huge opportunity to win new customers from competitors as well as to retain existing customers.

Fundamentally, customers want tailored services and differentiated experiences across the various touchpoints that a brand offers. Whether that be through online Chatbots to improve customer service or amplifying the in-store experience to attract both new and existing customers; tapping into the wants and needs of customers is crucial for businesses looking to move to the next level.

In summary, while recognising that the time has come to scale-up can be daunting and prompt real worries, it’s an important and pivotal phase for business growth. However, there are ways companies can successfully navigate through this transition, from looking outward for expert advice, to adopting new tech and focusing more on customer experience.



Barclaycard, March 2019, Economic uncertainty not impacting scale up businesses’ confidence about growth

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