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Scaling Up

June 12, 20243 min read

"scale-up noun

ˈskāl-ˌəp  : an increase according to a fixed ratio"

It seems that everywhere I turn and whatever I am reading, the term “scaling up” has become a buzzphrase in the last few years. As with many things, the phrase has now been abbreviated to simply “scale,” the “up” being implied. The term scaling was used in my dental days, referring to ridding teeth of tartar (plaque and calculus). When my boys went to a climbing gym, they scaled the climbing wall. Mountain climbers scale a summit. A scale factor is defined as the ratio between the scale of a given original object and a new object. Cars, trains, and buildings have been built to scale from an original small model.


In all these examples, scaling refers to increasing the size of the original, or, as we are often asked when ordering a hamburger, “Do you want to ‘upsize’ your order?” For the purpose of this essay, scaling equates to upsizing.

Thinking back to my own business days, this phrase wasn’t used. Did I want “to grow” my business? Did I need more customers to do so? Did I need more employees to help with the growth? Did I need more capital to move the process forward? Did I need to tap into external resources to make it happen? The answer to all these questions was an unequivocal YES! Did I do as much as I needed to in order to realize the growth that I wanted? Sadly, the answer is no.

I recently read an excellent description of the meaning of ‘scaling up.” It is a well-executed growth strategy that can only take place when business owners have decided that they want to grow and have also decided that they are ready to grow. It involves taking the vision of the owners to the next horizon and constantly improving structure, organization, and programming.

fast food upsize


The first step is a strong and determined commitment to doing what it takes. Without this dedication, the likelihood of success is limited. It is imperative to have a close, honest look at the current status of a business from the standpoint of the four pillars necessary for scaling successfully: people, strategy, execution, and money.

It is critical to attract the right people for the job. With these in place, effective strategizing can occur, resulting in superior execution. Having the cash to grow is essential.

Having a realistic growth strategy and communicating it clearly is the foundation for a successful business framework; otherwise, even with the right people in place, confusion can result, and priorities may become skewed.


When working with a business advisor, the work is not done for you. The approach to successful “upsizing” is a method of collaborative problem-solving and inquiry-based learning activities that will take you to the level of growth you envision. The role of the advisor is a facilitative one: not to transmit information, but to plan and support activities which will foster gaining relevant knowledge to boost your productivity and “scale” growth. By holding you accountable, a business advisor keeps you on track by offering motivational tips, advice, and support along the way.

puzzle pieces


Very importantly, the best business advisors are patient, determined, and persistent. If something goes wrong or you don’t understand something right away, they encourage you and provide you with constructive criticism when necessary. If you alone are the only one keeping an eye on you, it’s easy to get away with not doing the things you really need to be doing. In the end, you hurt yourself, your people, your business, and your odds of success.

Above all, your business advisor wants to see you succeed in your quest to “scale up.”

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Carola Mittag

Carola is a retired business owner and executive, who now writes for others in a 3rd act career!

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