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successfully scale your business

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Successfully Scale Your Business

How do you successfully scale your business once your business has a market for its goods or services and your focus shifts to growth?

Today’s special guest, Jan Cavelle, has built a multi-million turnover business and has some time-tested tips so you too can successfully scale your business.

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What You’ll Discover About How to Successfully Scale Your Business (highlights & transcript):

SUCCESSFULLY SCALE YOUR BUSINESS* Jan Cavelle’s personal success story of how to successfully scale your business [01:20]

* Drifting vs. planning when attempting to successfully scale your business [02:53]

* How instead of successfully scaling your business you could be ruining it [07:43]

* Highlights from Scale for Success book [10:37]

* How necessity became the mother of invention [15:42]

* The most valuable tip for how to successfully scale your business [16:47]

* And much MORE.

Hanna Hasl-Kelchner:  [00:00:00.90] How do you successfully scale your business? Once your business has a market for its goods or services, the focus shifts to growth, and today’s special guest has built a multi-million turnover business. And when we come back, she’ll share some secrets for – she’ll share some success tips for how you can successfully scale your business too.


Announcer:           [00:00:23.63] This is Business Confidential Now with Hanna Hasl-Kelchner. Helping you see business issues hiding in plain view that matter to your bottom line.


Hanna:                   [00:00:35.22] Welcome to Business Confidential Now. I’m your host, Hanna Hasl-Kelchner, and today’s special guest to talk about how to successfully scale your business is none other than Jan Cavelle, an entrepreneur from the U.K. who has a few decades of running micro and small businesses behind her.


[00:00:53.25] And she’s also the author of Scale for Success: Expert Insights into Growing Your Business, which focuses on helping entrepreneurs make the big leap from one million to 10 million in sales. Now, that sounds pretty exciting because most entrepreneurs are lone wolves, and they sure can use some help to think outside their comfort zone. So, let’s get started.


[00:01:14.19] Welcome to Business Confidential Now, Jan.


Jan Cavelle:           [00:01:17.10] Hanna, thank you so much for inviting me on your wonderful show.




Hanna:                   [00:01:20.97] Well, it’s delightful to have you here, Jan. I understand that you started one of your businesses from the kitchen table when your children were young and you were a single mother, and then you built it into a very successful multi-million enterprise. How did you do that?


Jan:                       [00:01:37.41] [Laughter] I did, Hanna, and if you’d asked me at the beginning, I would never have thought for a moment that that thought was going to happen. I started it literally as a route for survival with the children.

00:01:50.64] As you say, I was a single mom, and I was terribly broke and just fighting to keep a roof over our heads and some food coming in and not a lot more. And I started this as a selling operation because obviously, it’s doing telephone sales. And it was only sort of – as time went by and we’re just about to stabilize that side of things,


[00:02:15.75] I had supply problems, and because I was panicking about doing anything else, I thought, “Slow down.” I worked up some of the solutions to the supply side by manufacturing myself, and the whole thing just snowballed and it took off to this, you know, several – well, probably a couple of – a couple of factories and for young people, and that’s always – but


[00:02:42.66] you know, I couldn’t contemplate it and it’s probably not hard to grow. And as I know, we’re going to be talking about advising other people on scaling today.




[00:02:53.04] My first tip would be exactly that, is don’t go crazy and drift into it. If you’ve decided to grow, make it a very fun decision. Do not drift, because there’s a lot involved that needs planning out, and you need to be very sure – it’s a big thing, and you need to be totally sure of your reasons to do it. So, I think that’s a good starting point while we talk tips.


Hanna:                   [00:03:18.15] Well, it’s interesting that you described it as drifting as opposed to planning. I think I understand [Laughter] the difference, but help me…


Jan:                       [Laughter]


Hanna:                   Let’s focus a little bit about what’s necessary for the plan, so that you’re not drifting and especially not going sideways.


Jan:                       [00:03:37.86] [Laughter] Absolutely. When you scale up from that sort of size – and obviously, it depends slightly on factors to fix that finances by talking but – if you’re changing a small business, a start-up, or a family business into something that has got a future and constant growth, which is essentially what we’re saying scaling is, then you’re talking about creating an entire separate entity that will exist with or without you.


[00:04:10.68] And that has all sorts of aspects to – that ensure it is possible to keep on that growth, almost ad infinitum. So, you’re talking about a really, really different, different animal, and so changing the child into the adult, if you like, and you know, to do that, it’s a big job, and you may have been happier [Laughter] and you might even been earning more money.

[00:04:40.59] It’s not impossible to have a small business and – that’s doing very, very well and – I mean, your incredibly good financial income, and you make that leap to growth, and all of a sudden, because of the problems involved, you end up with no money and lots of heartache. And that’s the last thing anybody should do.


Hanna:                   [00:04:59.79] Well, absolutely. We’re not in business to lose money. [Laughter]


Jan:                       [Laughter] Maybe – so, it’s…


Hanna:                   We can just throw it out the window and have a lot more fun.


Jan:                       [00:05:07.41] [Laughter] I know. I know. Absolutely. So, you know, you want to be really, really sure that, A, you want to do it and, B, that it’s the right thing to do in every way that you’re guaranteed – well, nothing is guaranteed in business, so let’s take that back


[00:05:23.34] but the – you’ve got a really, really good chance of succeeding in doing it. Because you don’t want to ruin a good business by over growing it when you’re not ready or you haven’t done the prep or whatever, so it comes back to that strategy. It – assuming that you’re set now – set on it, it comes back to the strategy you were asking about. Now, that involves planning and plenty of time.


[00:05:51.30] You don’t want to plan because the orders are coming in now. You want to plan how you’re going to cope when the orders come in, and that involves working out how you’re going to supply the orders, how you’re going to get plenty more orders. What about systems, and perhaps most crucially or – well, two – perhaps most crucially, two things. One, is the market almost inexhaustible? Are you sure you’re going to get plenty more work because there’s no use putting all that stuff in and then finding work dries up;


[00:06:30.13] and secondly, of course, the crucial thing is people. Because if you’re going to grow a business, you’re going to need some very, very good people around you. And those aren’t easy to find. You know, you may have lovely people to start with in your family business or as you start up, but they may not have either the capability or even the wish to grow with you.


[00:07:02.97] You need a right hand and a left hand who are absolutely going to travel that journey with you, who are inspired by your vision, and who will act as your support and co-partners in that growth of pushing through. You cannot do it totally on your own.

[00:07:25.26] I think it’s different if you’re not a solo entrepreneur to start – two of you , or three of you involved, but most of us start off on our own and it’s too much for one person. You at least need people you’ve brought in to carry it with you.




Hanna:                   [00:07:43.47] You mentioned before that, yes, you need to have the commitment and you need to have a plan, but you also mentioned, which I thought was very intriguing, as – could be scaring some listeners, quite frankly [Laughter] is that you could be ruining a really good business if you’re, you know, successful and profitable and, you know, happy with what you’re doing,


[00:08:06.96] anticipating that it can just grow exponentially at the same pace that you had before with all the same things but just multiplied by 10 or a hundred or whatever the factor is. What are some things that get in the way of that wishful thinking?


Jan:                       [00:08:27.28] Well, I think it’s – well, I know it’s already easy to do because it’s one of the mistakes I made. And I had a very, very profitable business, and before, it grew too much, I mean – so up to about 15 people. It was fantastic, profitable, and it never actually was as profitable ever again.


[00:08:49.15] So, I think there are a variety of reasons for it. I think about preparation means – but you’ve got so many faults and so much firefighting, always goes on – going on that sucks the money out. You know, lack of systems means twice the work, all those sorts of things.


[00:09:08.98] I think the key thing that people don’t realize is that when you change from that original core of just you and a group of you, you’re probably pushing everything forward. Everybody knows what’s going on. You’re working 24/7, [Laughter]


[00:09:31.24] let’s face it, pushing that small business forward. When you grow, you haven’t got any more free hours to give. You can’t do it on your own anymore, so you’re going to have to invest in those other people who also are not going to work for nothing either. [Laughter] It’s sort of actually – in time, they’re going to need a decent salary and they’re not going to work until midnight like you do, and rightly so.


[00:09:59.26] So, you’ve suddenly got masses and masses of paid quality people to pay for in the form of management. Managers, management directors, whatever the setup is, which you never had before. And that’s going to throw your entire calculation aside because, you know, whereas – I say up to 15, so if you have one manager, you. You know, if all of a sudden you go upwards from that, you probably need two or three, and that’s going to knock out so many big holes and less profits.




Hanna:                   [00:10:37.87] I see. Let’s talk about your book a little bit, because it’s one thing to talk about your personal experience with the different businesses that you have built and successfully sold, but I understand that your book, Scale for Success: Expert Insights into Growing Your Business is actually based on research and interviews that you’ve done with other entrepreneurs, who’ve done the same thing as you have. Is that right?


Jan:                       [00:11:06.37] Very much so. And if you’ve taken it further, got larger sale, and I have circumnavigated all the pitfalls or anyone to a certain stage, and I felt that was a real need for this book.


[00:11:22.36] We talk a lot about startups and big businesses, and we don’t talk that much about this transition. I’m talking to fellow entrepreneurs myself. I realize that there are huge numbers of businesses struggle with the transition, and they either stay there, knocking their noses on the door and wondering why they’re not getting any further and not enjoying life as much as they used to, or they just slide back into the smaller businesses that they were before.


[00:11:50.95] Very, very few make that transition successfully. And so, just from personal interest and fascination, I wanted to find out as much as I possibly could about why that was. And so, that meant finding much more expert help than I could offer on my own from people who have succeeded.


[00:12:12.28] So, yeah, I set out a group together, especially entrepreneurs from across the globe, all of whom are just so mind bogglingly amazing. I mean, I can say that because I can stand back and say, “Wow, is that person in my book?” [Laughter] You know? But they’re not frightening, you know, we’re not talking Elon Musk.


[00:12:34.30] We’re talking about people who are very relatable, and yet it’s still “Grown or take our business from a garage to float…” or you know, whatever their personal aim was. And it could be all right, which I think is really important for people to understand that they can do it too.




Hanna:                   [00:12:55.15] In interviewing these folks for your book, how did their experiences mirror yours, and how did they differ?


Jan:                       [00:13:04.84] That’s a really interesting question. I think everybody might know, perhaps most people recognize, you know, first-hand their struggles, they just circumnavigated them better, I think, for one reason or another. You know, I mean, one entrepreneur, a friend of mine who I always knew, who is in the book, who is much more successful than I have achieved,


[00:13:04.84] but you know, she actually – just as we were talking about questions now and their problems for it, she grew too fast without the planning, and says quite openly in the book. But I actually have to put up – put the car into a fast reverse and go backwards for a while and shrink back so that they could grow properly, you know? So, it was a very similar experience to me. So, I think that the experience is very similar, it’s just they find superior solutions in many cases.


Hanna:                   [00:14:07.72] Where did those solutions happen to hit? Was it systems? Was it people? Was one type of stumbling block more common than another?


Jan:                       [00:14:17.60] I mean, I think generally, if you ask entrepreneurs, it’s the people tends to be the one that comes up with most. But I wanted to say that the task I set my – I set it myself to do with the book, it was particularly complex, because I wanted to find somebody who – most aspects of business were – I’ve put that very badly, I apologize. Let me try again. I wanted to cover most aspects of business with them to grow, so yes, we talked about – be it systems or financing or whatever, and I wanted to choose somebody who’s that aspect had been particularly relevant in their growth.


[00:15:02.84] So, for example, you know, talking about culture with somebody who’s dealt in HR business was obviously very simple. You know, talking to a marketing specialist for more – for marketing strategy was simple, but they didn’t mean salvage and hamper issues with building a business or on over around, but – so, you got the sort of best of both worlds.


[00:15:29.33] So, the book actually takes you on a journey through every single aspect – well, not every single aspect, but always more to think of, but an awful lot of aspects that you can think of that you’ll come up against in building a business.




Hanna:                   [00:15:42.44] In your own experience and in building a business, I mean, going from a kitchen table to multiple factories, you know, looking back at it now, you say, “Oh,” you know, you would not have thought it to be possible, but as you were going through, you were taking some very significant leaps of faith, actually. What inspired you to do that? Was it necessity?


Jan:                       [00:16:05.51] Yes. [Laughter] You’re so right. Well, it was absolutely necessity. It was a journey that I got on a train I couldn’t get off in many ways. Because, you know, it was so full on – you know, I took on one factory at one particular stage and then the whole taking on a factory and getting it out was much more expensive,


[00:16:29.57] so it had to be another spurt of growth to stay in business and so on and so forth. You know, it was an awful lot of trial and error and sorting it out all the time. I would be the first one to admit that I made continual mistakes in the process. [Laughter]




Hanna:                   [00:16:47.03] Well, if you had to do it over, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?


Jan:                       [00:16:52.15] I’d get out sooner. I stayed for 20 odd years in that business, and I think that’s much, much too long to stay in a business. You know, it’s one of my big, sort of nags now, that you know, that in the corporate world, you know, we encourage people to take long sabbaticals for probably a 10-year gap, you know?


[00:17:14.14] It’s recognized that you can’t just keep on going forever. And I think sensible people with business – because the chances are you can’t take a sabbatical from your own business for six months to a year. You know, and I think the – for sensible people run it for such amount of time and get out, I think that’s a much better way of doing it. Make some money, go off and enjoy it, and do it all over again.


Hanna:                   [00:17:40.63] [Laughter] Be the serial entrepreneur.


Jan:                       [00:17:43.09] Yeah, absolutely. You know, if you’ve managed to start a business, your brilliant, creative, fun to have businesses, you know, and you shouldn’t put yourself down about that. You know, it’s a fantastic thing to be able to do, so why not do it again?


Hanna:                   [00:17:59.17] Absolutely. What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who want to follow in your footsteps and maybe get out earlier? Okay, I’ll give you that. [Laughter] But what do they need to do just…?


Jan:                       [00:18:11.57] Allow me, my path once. [Laughter]


Hanna:                   Yeah, but…


Jan:                       Apart from that [Laughter] – apart from that…


Hanna:                   Right, apart from that.


Jan:                       Most of all, for your answer, is to look after yourself as well, because we have a terrible attention to see, as entrepreneurs, to put ourselves last. You know, obviously, it’s terribly important to look after your team, maybe a single mom or whatever – well, putting your family first.


[00:18:31.96] But, you know, it’s actually recognized that entrepreneurs are all part of looking after both our physical and our mental health. And unless you do it, you won’t survive and you won’t have a business. You know, it’s just vital. And you will perform better if you do, but it’s really hard to do it. Train yourself to look after yourself.


Hanna:                   [00:18:52.51] Yeah, it’s hard to step away when you’re just like, “Well, just one more thing. Just one more thing,” right?


Jan:                       [00:18:57.91] [Laughter] Absolutely. Yeah.


Hanna:                   [00:19:00.52] Well, very good. Jan, this has really been terrific.


[00:19:03.10] And if you’re listening and you’d like to contact Jan, learn more about her work or the link to her book, Scale for Success: Expert Insights into Growing Your Business. You can find that information in the show notes for this episode at


[00:19:18.61] And if you know someone who could benefit from Jan’s advice, tell them about today’s episode. Please share the link to the show, leave a positive review on your podcast app, or come on over do the same at so others can learn more about this episode too and discover what you did.


[00:19:39.70] You’ve been listening to Business Confidential Now with Hanna Hasl-Kelchner.


[00:19:43.48] Have a great day and even better tomorrow.

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Guest: Jan Cavelle

Jan Cavelle

Jan is an entrepreneur from the UK who has a few decades of running micro and small businesses behind her.  She is very familiar with all the challenges that go with that, having started one from the kitchen table when her children were small and she was a single mother, to go on to build that into a multi-million turnover business.

Jan has put her entrepreneurial experiences together with her passion for writing together a book aimed at helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses during the big leap of 1-10m.  The book is called Scale for Success and it now out in the UK from Bloomsbury, with early July publication in the US and Australia.

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