Bigger Isn’t Always Better – An Interview with Scale For Success Author, Jan Cavelle
In series 2 of Beyond The Balance Sheet, we interviewed Jan Cavelle, Business Owner, Speaker and Author of the book Scale for Success, who knows first-hand that scaling a business to morph into a bigger venture is one of the toughest steps to take in business. Like most entrepreneurs, Jan has known both failure and success and in this amazing interview, Jan shares her tips on how to avoid the traps that she fell into on her own Journey.
Often when we read business books or entrepreneur bios, we learn about success stories and business journeys that tend to cover any of the blemishes they may have been dealing with along the way. As an entrepreneur turned writer, Jan noticed that there weren’t any books that spoke candidly about the fact that business, and scaling a business, in particular, can, quite frankly, be tough.
“We make lots of mistakes and not just me, but the other entrepreneurs that I interviewed in the book who contribute so much wisdom, as well as their own stories and so much advice, but they all talk with such an honesty about all the mistakes they made.
And that's the realistic side of it, you know, people do mess up and I think you're much more likely to be able to help other people avoid the same mistakes if you're honest. And you know, you saying you messed up or you didn't always get it right is the best way to help others learn.”
As you can tell, Jan is fuelled by helping entrepreneurs to avoid the pitfalls of which she is so familiar, but what is her story?
Well, Jan started her first ‘serious’ business from her kitchen table, she was a single mum of two, who were her driving force behind ensuring the business was a huge success. What started as small soon became a multi-million turnover business, and what made it so successful was Jan’s strength in marketing and sales, which enabled her to keep the demand going especially throughout the start-up phase of the business cycle.
A team of few soon grew to be a team of 43, and it was at that point that everything changed. Jan explained, “You try at that point to morph the business into a very different animal than a start-up. When you’re a start up, you're very full of energy, a small team, everybody knows what's going on. Then suddenly you get to the sort of point I was at and you're trying to change it into an organisation.”
When you try and scale your start-up business, Jan knows all to well that there are so many elements to think about however, as a self-described believer in determination, Jan kept going however no matter how many different ‘tried and tested’ theories she implemented, she just couldn’t break through to the next stage.
When you are a business owner, it’s very easy to feel as though you are the only person going through struggle however Jan soon realised that so many entrepreneurs get stuck at the scale-up stage and the more business owners she spoke to, the more she realised what a huge problem it was.
“The first mistake a lot of businesses, including me make is that you assume that you just do more of the same as you get bigger. And because you're changing from a start-up to an organisation you don't, and that applies to absolutely everything from the type of people you hire, the numbers of people, the amount you need to concentrate on your supply chain, you name it, it changes.”
And it’s true, scaling your business is not the same as doubling turnover. When you start scaling a business, it's a great deal more complex than that and it takes a great deal more planning.
“I tend to liken scaling your business to building a house in that, you can’t build on shakey foundations. If you haven’t put in the foundations that you need in order to scale, in the sense of the right systems and processes, the right people at the top and everything else, then things will go wrong.”
And Jan is speaking from experience there, “I recognised that however much I tried to paper over the cracks, the foundations were too shaky and the business wasn’t scalable because the foundations weren’t there. Once I realised that, there was only one way to go.”
After making that realisation, Jan made the decision to sell the brand which is still trading today and set out on a mission to help other business owners avoid making the same mistakes she made when trying to scale.
If you like the sound of this story and would like to discover Jan’s tangible tips on scaling for success, go and have a listen to the full podcast episode and explore both series 1 and series 2 of Beyond The Balance Sheet where Jan talks about her first-hand experience of scaling a business to morph into a bigger venture and the challenges that comes with. Like most business owners, Jan has known failure and success and shares her tips on how to avoid the traps that she fell into on her own journey. Jan also discusses how she managed to turn her business from kitchen table to team of more than 40, and how she balanced that with being a single mother.