This is What’s Next – The Journey to the Launch of Scaled.
It’s been exactly 904 days since I left my last business following its acquisition by InterPublic Group. That’s a long time in anyone’s book.
In all honesty, I never expected the hiatus to last this long. It was never meant to take that amount of time to ‘decompress’, and work out what was next.
I’ve previously documented the challenges that journey has presented in this blog post in an attempt to share learnings that may help other entrepreneurs exiting their own businesses. Few talk about the transition from life before a big exit to the one that comes next.
But rather than detail that process of internal discovery this post is about the next chapter and answering the BIG question ‘what comes next?’
The answer is this; Say a big hello to Scaled, a business growth consultancy and investment vehicle aiming to support a small, select handful of existing businesses 5-10x their profits over the next five years.
And, as you may expect, Scaled has some pretty big and important differences to the usual ‘growth consultancy.’
Let me explain why…
What is Scaled?
On first glance Scaled looks like a simple consultancy built to sell hours to business owners, but the plan is to go much deeper.
Sure, we absolutely offer the usual growth consultancy services as we are regularly asked to provide everything from non-exec services and sales and marketing strategy to wider organisational design and even due diligence support. But the real reason we exist is to work in a way that is much more connected to the overarching long-term goal. Our focus is on the result and not just helping via an individual service.
Let me explain how, and, importantly for me, why this is the case…
Having spent the last 20 years building digital businesses and, more recently, investing in and supporting start-ups as a founding Partner at Haatch Ventures (which remains an important focus) I have been exposed to a wider range of growth businesses than most.
The experience of working within both the agency and venture capital world makes you sharp. You cannot survive if you are not. But it’s also a privilege few are lucky enough to experience as the exposure to hundreds of fast growth businesses accelerates your own learning past what should be possible in five lifetimes.
But it’s also challenging and is certainly not for all. Both businesses are hard models to scale and ask a LOT of the people within them as they challenge you to create increasingly refined ways of promoting growth efficiently. Necessity becomes the mother of invention!
And this hybrid experience of building bootstrapped businesses all the way to exit and then also investing in, and supporting, fast growth funded companies through venture gave me two pieces of unique insight:
- There is a better way to grow a business, irrespective of niche and in a way that builds revenue and profitability faster and more efficiently.
- The funding route that exists in Venture Capital is great but doesn’t fit 80%+ of the businesses we build.
This realisation formed the backbone of my thinking in positioning a new kind of hybrid consultancy and funding vehicle that gave ‘small,’ positive cash flow businesses a tried-and-tested process for growth together with deep expertise, experience, and growth capital to provide the accelerant.
And this, in a nutshell, is what Scaled is:
A growth consultancy that partners with service-led and other digitally-enabled businesses with £100,000 – circa £3m in EBITDA to deploy real world growth expertise and experience to accelerate growth and make it less painful.
And, where it makes sense for both sides, we take minority stake so we can jointly deploy growth capital to supercharge the process.
A two year ‘hiatus’ from full time work is a rare opportunity to spend time truly understanding what gets you out of bed in the morning and the importance of having true purpose.
That process has led me to define what really speaks to my limbic brain and serves as my personal purpose. When it’s no longer about money it’s imperative this is understood to ensure it can be sustained over the long term. And, in short, I am passionate about helping ambitious founders and company leaders grow businesses that create increasing opportunity for positive change in people’s lives.
That positive process of growth is one that far too few people are able to experience, and our mission is to change that.
Experience shapes the product
Importantly, my own unique journey working across hundreds of different businesses over the last 15 years has taught me that the path to growth is broadly the same for all successful companies, irrespective of niche, industry, or sector. And that entire process can be taught.
This moment of insight is what led to the creation of Scaled and a simple truth that:
We are compelled to document and share the process of building a great, sustainable, and valuable business.Simon Penson
This is our why. This is why we exist, and it is our North Star.
So, what now?
The plan then is simple: we will offer a dual path to our client partners, and it begins in the same way for all clients.
From day one we work to understand your specific business challenges through an initial consulting phase, understanding the stage you are at, and which ‘glass ceilings’ to growth you’ve broken through so far (if any). Here we also help you set deeper mission statements and shore up positioning to ensure that everything can align to a meaningful North Star of your own.
That work is best served on a consultancy basis, giving everyone the time, space and clarity to work methodically through the initial stage of the ‘10X Process’, our tried-and-tested roadmap to growth.
From here our process is to build a long-term relationship with each of our partners, working towards 3–5-year goals with the objective of multiplying profits by 5-10x over that period.
For some businesses that will mean continuing on this track, but for the few it will make sense to form a deeper, even more aligned relationship where we will look to take a minority stake in the business and inject growth capital to accelerate the exponential run towards those pre-set targets.
This simple diagram gives you the overview of that process:
The benefit of the second path is numerous of course, but in simple terms it gives the original founders further strength in depth, whilst fully aligning objectives right through the growth curve and to exit or value realisation if this is the original aim.
The Scaler Network
And, what’s more, for all of our clients we can plug in our expert roster of hand-picked consultants (we call them the Scaler Network) at any stage where very specific skill set, or experience is needed). You can read more about them via the link too.
Can we help you?
Hopefully then you can see the motivation. Our ‘Why’ is to share those hard-earned learnings and, in doing so, ensure that dozens of businesses avoid the roadblocks to growth and fulfil their destiny.
This will also mean a much greater focus is placed on sharing our findings, research and even our process. We have some bigger plans for this as we develop organically in the coming months. More on that as we grow, but for now we simply want to hear from businesses that fit our model.
As a reminder this is what we look for in a perfect fit partner. All businesses we work with are cash positive with EBITDA in the £100k to circa £3m range. They also tick at least one or more of the following boxes:
- They are a service led business of some kind. Obviously, we know agencies well, but all kinds of service businesses can and do benefit from the Scaled 10x Process.
- They may be a more traditional business with opportunity to transform digitally through some kind of digital enablement.
- Cash -flow positive businesses that can stand on their own two feet but need help breaking through to the next stage of scale.
You can also read more about this on our Investment Thesis page.
If you fit this picture, think you might but want to know more, or know a business that does, then please get in touch as we’re on a mission to transform that select number of 25+ businesses quickly. Why not be one of them?
Click the button below to talk to Simon about joining the network….