Scaling. It’s an issue every growing business, and every entrepreneur will come up against. How do you do it?
That’s exactly what Tim Richardson managed to do for We Make Websites — when he started working there in 2016, they had 12 employees. He was quickly promoted to Head of Growth, and, now, just 3 years later, they have 65 employees.
He came on our How We Solve podcast to tell us all how to scale the unscalable.
About We Make Websites
We only did 1 thing and we became exceptionally good at doing that.
In case you’re wondering what We Make Websites does … I’ll give you a hint: They don’t mince their words — they do exactly what their name implies.
They make websites and for a very focused arena where they:
- Only deal with eCommerce
- Only do Shopify Plus
- Typically focus on brands that are international (they are an international agency)
Problem: Scaling the unscalable
First, both Tim and I agree:
Pretending like there is a template path to high growth is irrational.
While many tout this idea, there is no true template that works to “10x your growth in 6 months” for every industry. That, simply, is a fallacy, and most entrepreneurs know that. Certainly, you may have extreme growth in a short amount of time, but the path to getting there is likely unique to your situation, and you’ll have to certainly put in an exorbitant amount of work.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some tactics and strategies you can copy and absorb from the explosive growth of We Make Websites (I mean, truly, 5x-ing your team in 3 years is certainly what I would call “scale”!). Here’s what Tim’s learned about scale:
Step 1: Recognize the problem
First, We Make Websites sat down as a company and discussed: “What do we want to do, and why do we want to do it?”
They asked themselves what work they really wanted to do each day. They avoided grandioso vernacular like “we want to save the world.” Eventually, they boiled everything down to:
We want to be the #1 Shopify Plus agency in the world.
From there, they worked backwards. “How are we going to become the #1 Shopify Plus agency in the world?”
They realized that to get there, they would need to focus on their culture.
Step 2: Culture
So, We Make Websites took a deep dive into their company culture to determine the team’s buy-in on the company culture, what their skill sets were, who they needed to hire and under what culture criteria, etc.
After understanding the culture they had, and the pieces they wanted to replicate, they were able to hire that desired culture.
Step 3: Hiring
Ultimately, we’re a people business. Do people trust us? Do they like us?
Since they now knew the culture they wanted to replicate, they could hire for that culture. Again, here, they worked backwards. They peered 2-3 years out into the future and focused on the organizational structure they would need at that point — “What frontline positions, what creative positions, what executive positions, HR, finance, etc. will we need in 2-3 years?”
A couple of extra tips on scaling:
Here are a couple of other pro tips Tim offered up when it comes time to scale your business:
When Tim first came aboard at We Make Websites, he truly had very little strategy he said. That came along later. At first, he simply brought into the vision. “And we were… go go go.”
The takeaway for all of us is this: If you want to scale your business, be relentless about action.
Double-down on your niche
Tim says that one key to their success is certainly that they have doubled-down on their niche. By working only with Shopify, (and now, only Shopify Plus), they are positioned to truly help their customers with their unique skillset and refined expertise.
This focus has set them apart from their competition and cemented their brand internationally.
A few resources Tim suggests:
Play hard, but fair.
– Tim’s personal mission statement