Blog B2B Beyond Basics: The 1st stage of business growth
16 April, 2024

Beyond Basics: The 1st stage of business growth

Navigating the growth of your business can feel like building a house without a blueprint. You’ve established a solid customer base, and sales are consistently increasing. However, what’s the next step to scaling up without compromising the essence of what you’ve built?

Recognizing the stages of growth your new business goes through is the key to moving to the next level.

Each of the four stages — Beyond Basics, Unifying Operations, Scaling Up, and Sustaining Success — has unique challenges and opportunities.

In this article, we’ll do a deep dive on the Beyond Basics stage, the first phase of a growing business, where spreadsheets are more likely to introduce unintentional errors like typos and inventory management becomes a daily hurdle. 

Understanding this business growth stage will help you know where you are and what you’re likely to encounter so you can implement strategic plans to move into the next stage.

But first, let’s briefly look at what business growth means.

Business growth definition

Business growth is when your business grows in size, profitability, revenue, and market share over time. You can achieve this in various ways, such as increasing sales, expanding into new markets, or developing new products.

Beyond Basics stage: What it involves and how to identify it

Beyond Basics is the first business growth stage. You know you’ve reached this point if you have a solid customer base and steady demand for your product or service. Your goals revolve around adding new customers, increasing sales and brand recognition, and scaling to meet rising demand. 

It’s also a time when the tools and manual processes that served you well in the startup phase, like spreadsheets or basic accounting solutions, begin to show their limitations.

In particular, relying on spreadsheets for inventory management exposes your business to a high risk of errors, like wrong numbers, missing zeros, or decimals in the wrong place.

This not only increases the likelihood of inaccuracies but also leads to inventory inefficiencies that can result in customer dissatisfaction and potential revenue loss. The average small retailer in the U.S. struggles with an inventory accuracy of 63%, primarily due to human error, highlighting the need for more robust, automated solutions.

In this company growth stage, you’re also actively looking for ways to optimize your operational efficiency. This is your company’s ability to deliver products to customers cost-effectively while maintaining high quality, particularly in inventory management, supply chain, and customer service.

However, you likely have limited IT resources and working capital, which makes finding a good, affordable solution critical. You need something that works right out of the box and offers a quick return on investment (ROI) and the flexibility to support your future growth.

infographic of the beyond basics stage of business growth

What to focus on in the 1st stage of business growth

The decisions you make in the first growth phase can significantly impact how quickly you hit milestones and the overall development of your business. 

We’ll look at four areas to focus on to create a strong foundation for your company to build on for future success.

Streamline operations

As you move away from the startup stage, the complexity and volume of operational tasks will inevitably increase. Optimizing these processes helps you maintain efficiency and scale effectively. 

Here are some business growth strategies to streamline your operations:

  • Automate repetitive tasks: Identify repetitive and time-consuming tasks necessary for your business’s daily operations, such as data entry. Then, use automation tools to significantly reduce manual effort and allow your team to focus on activities that drive growth, such as expanding your product line.
  • Integrate business tools: Often, businesses start with a mixed bag of tools to manage different aspects of their operations. These may include spreadsheet tools, like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets, or accounting software, like QuickBooks and Xero. As you grow, evaluate, and consolidate these tools. An integrated platform like Cin7 can help reduce costs and improve data consistency. It also keeps data from being siloed and allows for transparency.

Enhance the customer experience

Improving the customer experience is a top or significant priority for 85% of business owners, and for good reason. In a highly competitive market, customer experience can be the key differentiator for your small business

A positive experience builds brand loyalty and enhances customer retention. A negative experience can quickly repel potential customers and damage your brand reputation.

You can enhance your customer interactions through:

  • Personalization: Customers value experiences tailored to their needs and preferences. Use customer data to personalize interactions through customized emails, product recommendations, or support services.
  • Leveraging feedback: Regular customer feedback is a goldmine of insights for refining and improving your offerings. Encourage feedback through surveys, social media, and direct communication.

Manage finances

Robust financial planning and management ensure your business generates enough cash flow to move seamlessly into the next growth phase.

Here’s how to approach this critical area:

  • Budget and forecast: Create a comprehensive budget that reflects your operational needs and growth initiatives. Quarterly forecasting can make it easier to track progress against annual goals while still remaining flexible enough to pivot as needed.
  • Secure funding for scaling operations: Growth often requires additional funding for new hires, marketing, or expanding your physical footprint. Explore various options, including loans, investors, and grants, to find the best fit.

Build a solid team

Your team is your most valuable asset, especially in the early stages of small business growth. Consider the following tips to build a strong team that can help scale your company:

  • Hire for culture fit: While skills and experience are important, hiring individuals who align with your business’s culture and values is crucial. Employees who share your vision and work well with others can significantly contribute to a positive and productive work environment.
  • Diversify skills and invest in development: Look for candidates with diverse skill sets to bring fresh ideas and solutions. Moreover, invest in your current team to help them grow with the business.

How Cin7 helps businesses in the Beyond Basics stage

Connected Inventory Performance is Cin7’s advanced approach to inventory management for product sellers. It uses integration and automation to enhance efficiency, visibility, and traceability throughout the entire inventory lifecycle.

Here’s how Cin7 helps businesses in the first business growth stage:

  • Automated inventory management: With Cin7, you can automate your inventory management and move away from typo-prone spreadsheets. This improves accuracy and agility across your inventory lifecycle and allows you to handle increased operations, like an upsurge in orders or expanding product lines, without needing more staff.
  • Flexibility and scalability: Cin7’s cloud-based platform scales with your business. It offers you the flexibility to meet increasing demands without unnecessarily complicating your operations or expanding your team.
  • Easy to implement: Cin7 is an easy-to-use solution that offers self-service and a guided onboarding experience. New employees can quickly become self-sufficient, which ensures uninterrupted operations as you scale.
  • Integration capabilities: Cin7 seamlessly integrates with 700+ other business tools, such as e-commerce platforms, accounting software, and shipping and fulfillment services. This simplifies your workflows and enhances data accuracy across your business.
  • Real-time inventory tracking: With Cin7, you can track your inventory in real time, giving you accurate and up-to-date information. This eliminates the guesswork in inventory management, minimizing stockouts and overstock. Moreover, the insights you gain can help you forecast accurately and make more strategic decisions regarding inventory levels, product demand, and supply chain adjustments.

Quick ROI: Cin7 is affordable and optimized to grow with your business. You can expect a quick ROI through optimized inventory management, reduced unintentional errors, and improved operational efficiency.

How Cin7 helped ModaConcrete™ | TerraFlame in the 1st stage of business growth

ModaConcrete | TerraFlame faced several problems before implementing Cin7, including:

  • Lack of inventory management and visibility
  • Inefficient manufacturing process
  • Unsustainable operations due to manual processes
  • Inadequate understanding of product and operating costs
  • Limited capability for growth and scaling

Addressing these challenges was crucial for ModaConcrete | TerraFlame to grow and become capable of competing in the market and achieving significant growth.

Cin7 facilitated this growth through a suite of solutions that addressed several critical operational challenges. 

Here’s how Cin7 contributed to the brands’ business development:

  • Inventory management and visibility: Before Cin7, the company struggled with inventory management. It relied on inefficient methods, like spreadsheets, which didn’t provide real-time visibility or control. Cin7 introduced a comprehensive system for tracking raw materials and finished goods. This allowed the company to accurately manage its inventory levels, minimize waste, and respond promptly to demand changes.
  • Optimizing the manufacturing process: The integration of Cin7’s Bill of Materials (BOM) functionality streamlined the manufacturing process by tracking every raw material that went into making a product. This ensured precise inventory deductions and additions. The Made to Order feature allowed the company to respond quickly to specific requests, which enhanced customer satisfaction and operational flexibility.
  • Cost control and decision-making: With Cin7, the company could see the actual costs of its products from manufacturing to shipping. This clarity enabled more informed pricing strategies and financial decisions, which were crucial for maintaining profitability during rapid growth.
  • Scalability through EDI integration: Cin7’s native EDI capability facilitated the company’s presence in major retail outlets, such as Amazon, Costco, Target, and Williams Sonoma. With a much better system, the small team’s order processing capacity grew from 300 orders per week to 2,000 without additional headcount.

Grow your business with Cin7

As you navigate the Beyond Basics stage of the business lifecycle, finding the right tools for your company becomes not just a good idea but a necessity. 

Cin7 stands out as the strategic choice for small-to-medium business (SMB) product sellers eager to sustain their growth all the way up to the final stage: Sustaining Success.

Cin7 delivers a streamlined, automated, and scalable solution that consolidates your inventory operations in one place. This means you spend less time on day-to-day management and more time on the bigger picture — growing your business.

Discover how Cin7 can help your business grow and succeed with a free demo today.

Stop managing your inventory.
Start connecting it.