5 Manufacturing Scaling Missteps and How to Avoid Them

Successfully scaling a business from a small start-up to a thriving corporation requires thoughtful and careful execution. Poor timing, an underdeveloped business model, or the wrong team members can undermine your progress or sink your ship. Manufacturing businesses face unique challenges as they approach periods of rapid growth. Knowing the location of hidden shoals and reefs beneath the water’s surface is critical to navigating the hidden hazards that prevent many from ever reaching open water.

Why Some Companies Fail to Scale

After many sleepless nights, long weekends troubleshooting problems, and countless hours building relationships with clients, you’ve successfully started a business. Your clients love your product, reinforcing your belief that you have something great to offer. You are passionate about your idea and want to strike while the iron is hot. By this time next year, you are confident you could double your revenue.

Unfortunately, your passion and drive cannot carry you beyond the challenges of scaling a manufacturing business. The only way to arrive at your destination is to understand why many like you have failed and what you must do to avoid the same fate.

Let’s examine some of the top mistakes manufacturing businesses make when scaling up their operations.

1. Starting With a Rocky Foundation

Every great business is founded on a great idea. It is your service, your product, and the reason that you started your own business, and that gives you your identity. If you are thinking about scaling up your business based on this idea, you need to know that this idea is solid enough to carry your company.

Before you start making plans to scale up your business, evaluate your situation honestly. Does your product have kinks that need working out? Is there enough market demand for it to carry you for the long term? Before you start growing, make sure you understand the market for your product and your intended customer.

2. Attempting to Grow With the Wrong Team

A successful small business consists of a team of employees who work hard to help the company be successful. Many have learned new skills or stepped out of their comfort zone to fill a role that doesn’t yet exist or is merely temporary. While this team has helped you meet the needs of your growing business, they may not be the people you need at the helm to take your business to the next level.

Begin thinking long-term about what skills and types of people you need to become a more prominent manufacturer. Consider qualities such as what skill competencies you will need, what kind of company culture you want to foster, and who has business growth experience. A manufacturing recruiter can help you identify individuals with the right skills to help you grow your business.

3. Focusing too Much on Making Sales

The profit margins often define business success. Increasing the margins means increasing sales, which result from skillful marketing. However, pouring money into your marketing and sales departments may not feed your desired growth. This strategy focuses too heavily on short-term strategy and results. Your ability to make sales and keep up with customer demand will depend largely on your ability to manage your inventory. Before you have a backlog of orders, determine how you will streamline inventory management. You may want to consider investing in ERP software to help manage day-to-day operations.

4. Misunderstanding the Customer

We all want to get a good deal. Paying less than full price makes us feel like we just gamed the system and won. Discerning customers look at more than just the price tag. They want to know where the product is coming from, where it was made, and how long it will last. Quality, value, innovation, and customer service are not just buzzwords. At the end of the day, it is what customers truly want from a company. A head-to-head battle with your competitor to offer the lowest price will only yield a budget option for the consumer. Instead, offer a superior product. Provide something they want more than a low price.

5. Misdiagnosing Growing Pains

Scaling inevitably brings change to all levels of an organization. Management and reporting structures must adapt to increases in employee numbers. As everyone adjusts to changes in staffing and day-to-day operations, bottlenecks and potential pitfalls will become evident. Overlooking these problems as one-off mistakes do you and the rest of the company a disservice. Constantly evaluate and reevaluate workflows. Seize opportunities to improve processes and productivity. The smoother your operations, the faster you can grow and the better you can serve your customers. Don’t be afraid to remove something or someone who no longer fits.

Victory Can be Yours

Quality, efficient manufacturing supplies many of the products that keep our economy and our lives running smoothly. Scaling your manufacturing business to create a thriving enterprise is possible. Play to your strengths. Constantly seek ways to improve weaknesses you discover in your team and your processes. And avoid the common pitfalls that have claimed others before you.