The 4 P’s to Scaling a Business

Posted February 21, 2018 by Phil Clark

Scaling a business is hard. If it was easy, all businesses would skyrocket over $10M in annual sales, but actually less than 1% of businesses ever achieve that level. If you want to scale a business, you are going to need a plan, and what better way to start planning than by borrowing a good acronym?

My acronym for this exercise that you need to be successful involves the 4 P’s: people, product, processes and production.

What is more important than People? Nothing. A great teammate can make the others around them better. For basketball fans, I always think about Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. They are “A” players who take initiative with a “can do” attitude. Attitude cannot be underestimated as it is the initial energy that gets things moving in the desired direction. And they can turn around a negative situation (i.e. turning lemons into lemonade). Jim Lackey has preached for years about the importance of people. Years of experience watching this happen has taught me that he was right.

In scaling a business, most have a Product that solves a problem (i.e. a need must be present). Sometimes people have a solution and then they go looking for the problem to match. Having a solid product (or service) seems like common sense. It is. Do not underestimate it.

Third, all businesses have Processes. Making them as efficient as possible is a source of continuous improvement in your business. And continuous improvement typically leads to a better customer experience and higher profits. Larry Cash, retired CFO of Community Health Systems, once said that he tried to be hard on the problem and not his people. And attacking a problem means that you have a process to do so. And having great people to attack these problems makes everything easier (see above).

The last P is Production. To be productive, you should measure and track how you are doing. Metrics analysis is much more common now than 20 years ago. It highlights trends in your business so that you can make the necessary adjustments to your business. Everything will not always go as planned so having a system to make course corrections is imperative.

Hopefully, you are well on your way to scaling your business already. If you are already using the 4 P’s described above, your chance of success is greatly increased!