This Difference Between Business Scaling and Business Growth

In my role as COO (sidekick or otherwise), I talk about scaling and growth quite a lot with my clients, mentees, and colleagues. But there seems to be a slight misunderstanding in common: online business owners are using the words “growth” and “scaling”  to describe the process of increasing revenue and growing a team. And while those elements are definitely involved, they alone do not mean your business is successfully scaling. So what’s the difference between business scaling and business growth?

What is business growth?

When your company grows, you increase your revenue at the same time as your operating expenses. 

Let’s say you sign $25,000 in client work. Congrats! But because you’re a solopreneur and have no real systems or processes or support in place you need to hire an administrative assistant to free up your time so you can deliver on the project. And because no systems are in place this admin ends up costing $25,000 to support you on the project. ???? 

So your revenue went up but your profit didn’t change because your expenses rose to meet your revenue. 

What is business scaling?

On the flip side, when your company grows revenue much faster than it incurs costs, you’re on the path to scaling. 

Let’s take that same $25,000 increase in revenue. But this time you’ve already invested in some tools, have some processes in place, and much of the admin work is automated. All that costs you $1000 a year to maintain but it helps in all areas of your business. You still decide you need some support for this project but because you need them for less hours that Admin Assistant only costs you $20,000 (20% less).

Which means, your overall profit went up.

Scaling isn’t necessarily about hiring a team, though it includes strategically hiring support.

Conversations about scaling often revolve around hiring, but scaling isn’t just about hiring a team to do all the things you don’t want to do anymore. It’s about strategically hiring support so that no one (especially YOU as the business owner) becomes a bottleneck for your company’s growth.

That’s not to say your business can’t get to the point where it runs successfully without your having to be in it. If that’s your goal, we can get you there! But running away from mundane or tedious tasks isn’t the way to do it.

What to do instead

Discover my super simple trick for hiring for the right role at the right time inside my mini-course, How To Hire And Train Your First VA. (Hint: it’s not always a virtual assistant!) Whomever you hire, the goal is to clear your plate so that you can focus on growing your business. 

That could mean more client work, creating a new product, or working on other revenue-generating activities that you’ll delegate further in the future.

I’ve hired support! I can more clearly see where else my business needs support and I feel so much better about releasing control over things – MAJOR! I finally feel like I have permission to build my business around myself, the way I want to do it!

– Mary Chhea, Social Media Strategist

Scaling isn’t about simply hitting a bigger revenue goal without increasing expenses.

If you’re thinking, “Easy. I’ll increase my prices and work a few more hours, that way my revenue will go up without my expenses increasing.” I say, good luck with that. 

What’s the point of hitting a revenue goal if you burn out? Besides the mental health dangers, doing it all yourself has limitations. Time isn’t infinite and neither are the physical and mental reserves of your body. 

And if you’re thinking, “Fine, I’ll just create more ‘passive income’ in my business. That way I won’t burn out!” Again, I say -good luck.

Passive income still requires work. And it definitely requires tools and technology. 

What to do instead

Increased revenue typically means increased admin, automation, and support expenses. By all means, plan that big launch! Shoot for the stars with your revenue goals! 

But more importantly, consider how to grow your profit margin. 

How much will it cost for you to hit those big revenue goals, especially if you plan to run ads? How much will it cost for you to deliver the goods? Can you increase profit NOW by streamlining your systems, decreasing your expenses, or automating some processes? Boom! You’ve got a head start on scaling your business.

In the last six months, I’ve brought in over six figures in my business and I directly relate this to the work that I have done with Sandra and in this community.

– Carly Banks, The Habit Aryuveda

Create the foundation on which your sustainable business can scale.

No two businesses are exactly alike. Your company likely won’t stay the same through its lifetime either. But one of the best things about creating a foundation for your business to scale on is that you’ll be able to assess and take on new opportunities easily, and be able to recognize challenges before they become emergencies that require urgent pivots.

You don’t have to stuff your business (or yourself) into a rigid box to make scaling work for you. That’s what I teach inside Scale Society, my small group mentorship for online business owners who are ready to create the “grown up” business of their dreams without hustling 24/7 or hiring an expensive OBM. 

If you already have a VA, or are ready to hire one, this could be the experience to get you to the next level WHILE containing your expenses ????.

During my time in Scale Society, my VA and I got SO organized. Setting things up from the beginning (or as close to it as possible) has made me feel confident I have a backend that’s organized. And I won’t have to do some stressful overhaul to clean things up down the road. Sandra is an over-giver with her resources too. During Scale Society, I got my hands on excel sheets to better organize my first launch, a tool to test the load speed of my website and a gorgeous plan for organizing my entire Google Drive.

– Katelyn Collins, Conversion Copywriter and Email Strategist


Scale Society is now accepting applications here.

Meet your host

Sandra Booker, Founder of Changemaker Inc. (home to Sidekick COO and The VA Studio) and creator of Scale Society and The Advisory Board, is a mentor, Fractional COO  and growth strategist. She specializes in helping overworked, overwhelmed, multi-hatted entrepreneurs become the CEOs of sustainably scalable, and powerfully profitable businesses. 

After helping local businesses thrive, and receiving accolades in her community (like the 40 Under 40 award) Sandra turned her attention to the world of online service providers, and her clients include familiar names like Chanti Zak, Tarzan Kay, and Laura Belgray.

In her (efficiently used) spare time, she teaches others how to build and grow their own 6-figure virtual assistant practices and is on a mission to create a million jobs by helping her clients and students scale their businesses.

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