Image of different sized piles of coins with a tree growing out of each one

Should your business grow or scale up; the differences you need to know

It’s natural to want your newly founded business to become a huge success immediately; you know the value in your product and want the whole world to too.

But growth comes in different formats; do you know in which way to take your business? There are valuable differences between growing and scaling effectively.

Here we explore the difference between the two and how to decide which method to adopt.

Growth is a reactive response to your business making more revenue, with revenue increasing at the same pace as the costs incurred by fulfilling the increased sales. As your product or services become more successful in terms of sales, you experience more customers choosing your business over a competitor – you may even break into a new market or have launched a new product.

This may be organic growth, or you may have made purposeful tactical changes to encourage growth such as investing internally or worked your network, as recommended in our article on how to grow fast.

Either way, in response to the increase in sales, you as the business founder now need to invest in the resources required to deliver to your customers, or risk damaging your brand by failing to do so – and fast. Resources may include hiring staff, equipment or premises, all of which will require your time as well as settling in periods, fast eating into your profits.

Following this success, it can be tempting to adopt “rinse and repeat” behaviour that delivers manageable business growth. However, depending on the longevity of that business offering, founders risk reaching the peak of its potential, with profits then flatlining.

Unexpected growth can have a negative impact on your business, and why you should have a disaster plan which details how you would quickly respond and cope with the sudden strain on your resources, to prevent your business failing.

Scaling, however, grows your business significantly and in a proactive way. Vigorous plans are created in advance, followed by a boost of capital specifically to both enable and support growth at a much greater rate than what we discussed earlier.

These plans break down your long-term business growth goals and the steps needed in order to get there and are vitally important to mitigate the risks that accompany scaling up. Instead of responding to growth, you actively put measures and processes in place to create it, and thoughtfully so not to damage your brand.

In this article, details a 5-step plan for developing your scaling ambitions, including:

  • Evaluating and planning; where the business is now, where it wants to be and what is needed to get there.
  • Funding it; well, it won’t come for free!
  • Securing the sales; including a sales structure, marketing, staff and systems.
  • Investment in technology; which could be new, improving, automated – whatever possible to make the process easier and smoother.
  • Finding your team; how many, in what structure, what skills and qualifications they need and the culture you will try to cultivate.

Scaling plans may be, and are most likely, ambitious, but they aren’t necessarily fast. Rushing into such grand moves increases the risks of it all going wrong. However, once you’ve invested in the planning aspect, the sales may then indeed follow fast – something you’re well prepared for. An example of this would be the investment in creating and preparing a SaaS platform for mass sales, and then seeing those sales come in once it’s put into action with little maintenance in comparison.

Scaling often comes towards the end of the start-up phase of a business and is often funded by venture capitalists, who will also provide support to the founders to increase the chances of success and therefore the return on their investment. You can find advice on prepping your business for investment here.

Ultimately, whether growth or scaling is right for your start-up will depend on the stage of your business and your own long-term goals. If you’re prepared to respond to growth at a comfortable speed, then growth is for you. However, if you’re ready to rocket your business to the next level, then you’re ready to scale it up!

Either way can be daunting on your own, and that’s where DCI comes in. Find out more on our fully-funded 6-month programme offers support on this and much more, as well as access to tutors and mentors who will support you on this journey.

If you’re ready to apply for our next cohort, head over to our apply now page to complete our short application process.


The next application deadline is Friday 6th May 2022

apply now