How To Scale A Small Business With Limited Resources
Limited resources – time, finances and skills – can be hurdles for any business.
But when it comes to scaling your start-up, these factors present some of the biggest challenges faced by a small to medium enterprise.
As the managing director and co-founder of FCBT client, Bondi Sands, Shaun and his fellow co-founder Blair James, have taken their business from SME to global success story in just 10 years.
Working together in 2009 to create a high quality, self tanning product reminiscent of a “real Australian tan” Shaun and Blair launched their first three products in 2012.
Recently breaking into the US market thanks to a partnership with retail giant Walgreens, Bondi Sands is also currently the number one tanning company (by market share) in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK.
With a background in health, wellness and fitness, plus an MBA, we sat down with Shaun to get the lowdown on how to scale your business with limited resources.
How did you scale Bondi Sands with limited resources?
As the Managing Director and Co-Founder I focused on the 4 scaling Ps which are:
People – Surround yourself with the best people, experts from their business function that share similar values as you. At the start up level you may not have the finances to employ people therefore outsourcing to the correct people / function is key for your initial success.
Persistence – Scaling quickly is difficult and you need to be persistent. Do not take short cuts that either impact your brand and/or individual values.
Processes – Keep processes SIMPLE when scaling. Complexity slows businesses down and inhibits growth.
Profit - Ensure you continue to monitor profit and cash flow. All businesses have a different cash flow and or profitability models. But it’s important to ensure your finger is always on the ‘pulse’ with this as I have seen many businesses collapse because they scaled too quickly with financial mismanagement.
Image: Founders of Bondi Sands Shaun Wilson (L) and Blair James (R) at a product launch.
What are your tips for bootstrapping a business in the early days?
Your business vision might be incredible, but it is also probably expensive. Focus and invest in areas of your business that provide maximum return in both money (resources) and your individual time. Also put your entrepreneur ego aside and realise that at the start of the journey you must be involved in everything in your business. This will help with your critical decision making and your ability to scale correctly in the future.
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What's the most effective way to scale with limited resources?
Focus on your business model and how it can support scaling with certain limited resources. At Bondi Sands we understood we had innovative, leading products and a strong marketing / brand strategy however what we also wanted was to scale distribution both domestically and internationally quickly. We are now stocked in over 20,000 stores globally (within 6 years) and the number one tanning brand in the world due to a disciplined focus on outsourcing certain parts of our sales / distribution model. We are also the largest private exporter of sun care / beauty products in Australia which is something I am really proud of.
What are the challenges of outsourcing for an SME?
It’s important for businesses to realise that outsourcing parts of your business function should not mean they are separate to your company but an extension and or a partner. Currently we have eight global distributors who provide services to Bondi Sands however we see them as brand partners that share similar objectives and values. Challenges arise when you purely see outsourcing as a contractor model and you do not fully integrate them into your business.
How do you maintain work/life balance when you run a start up and travel all the time?
To be honest, depending on your global business objectives it can be very difficult. I spend 6-7 months away each year and I have practically lived out of hotels / airports for the last three years. However, building a global brand and leading my team is so rewarding, so for me this is my work / life balance!
What could you never travel without?
My Air pods and runners! Exercising is part of my daily life and either though it is more difficult when you travel you must keep some form of routine.
Your daily travel rituals?
1. Exercise in the morning
2. Reading and responding – When travelling it is very important to ensure I am still connected to my global team and you are across all material / information that has been sent to you from the night before.
3. Time – Ensure my time is impactful with my international team and customers when I travel as face-to-face communication is key in a growing business.
4. Fun – We always ensure we have some fun with our team, distributors and or customers. At Bondi Sands, we celebrate our team successes together and this normally involves some great food and maybe a cocktail or two!