For many of you, that’s the dream: the ability of a company to go from small to large scale operations while still maintaining your company ethos. It’s a hot button issue – a buzzword that gets tossed around like an infomercial, usually mixed in with ‘franchise’ and at the end of the day you’ve gone from gourmet vanilla to the regular boring vanilla fare.
Essentially you have to decide if what you offer can be mass-produced and mass-marketed. Should the experience be the same for everyone who uses your product or service? Are there a finite number of iterations you can produce? Small, medium, large? Standard, premium, and deluxe?
If homogeny is your goal, you’re ready for scalability. An IHOP in Tulsa shouldn’t be any different than an IHOP in Pensacola, though the McDonalds in Maine are known to serve a decent lobster roll. The key ingredient in scalability is that you HAVE to maintain the quality of your company’s product. If your deliverables are not tangible – ideas, for instance, are not tangible but can be highly valuable – they probably aren’t scalable. Creatives can be productive on a large scale (think Andy Warhol’s Factory), but it’s not the same as being able to turn up production at the flip of a switch.
It’s alright to admit you’re not scalable. It’s probably the first step to growing your company in spite of that fact. As much as I’d love to have loads of offices abroad (Milan, HELLO), it’s just not something I can do. What’s the point of having a mega company if you have to sacrifice quality? And can you really grow by doing so?
The short answer – after a lot of tossing and turning – is NO. It’s not for me. And knowing that was a lot of the battle, and a waste of energy when I have none to spare. The long answer is wordy and profane. Besides, scarcity is half the equation of what makes something valuable. If you can’t big, you can at least be expensive.
Annie Liao Jones is the Principal and founder of Austin-based Rock Candy Media. firstname.lastname@example.org