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How We Scaled From Being An IT Outsourcing Business To Ecommerce Specialist

Scaling a business is not as simple as recruiting more people to increase the team’s size. More often than not, a company needs to fundamentally transform itself to keep up with the evolving market needs.

Back in 2009, Vietnam was known for being a fast-growing destination for IT outsourcing. As with many other businesses established at the time, SmartOSC, the company I co-founded, started offering web development services with a four-member team. Like many startups, our main priority was surviving the first year. We soon realized there was a niche in the market for proper ecommerce development services. So naturally, the business evolved and adopted an agency model, providing a full range of digital ecommerce services across the globe and growing into a team of more than 350 specialists as of today.

Looking back at the initial process of scaling my company, there were a few important considerations that are worth looking into.

1. Specialization vs. generalization

One of the most important strategic decisions you need to make for your business is to focus on providing a few great solutions or acquire more resources and diversify your service offering. For us, specialization was the way to go.

Specializing in providing ecommerce solutions meant that we were able to communicate the brand and services well to meet our clients’ specific needs. It also enabled us to differentiate ourselves from our competitors and gave us a perceived value in the eyes of potential clients.

When making this decision, however, you should be aware that in a dynamic market, it can be difficult to predict and plan for the future. It is important that you stay agile so you can adjust your value proposition.

2. Building the right capabilities

As the retail market was quickly evolving, we were challenged to invest in the right technology that best solved our clients’ growing pains. Our criteria to build capabilities was validated based on the business impact it would bring to our clients and what the latest industry trends were showing.

For example, the Gartner Magic Quadrant report released in April 2017 shows that Magento is now positioned as a leader in disruptive commerce technologies. But in its early days, we had to make a decision whether we should invest in it. But as of today, aside from Magento, we have also adopted other market-leading platforms such as Sitecore, Adobe Experience Manager, and Hybris.

3. Scaling up the quality

We believe businesses who are scaling up in size have the opportunity to scale up in quality as well.

We formed a Delivery Excellence team to fully support this opportunity. After delivery, every project is well-documented, with practices that work and mistakes that should be avoided next time. This knowledge is used to build up our “solution library” to make future projects more efficient and is passed on to employees as a learning resource. As we scale up and deliver more projects, this system allows us to act quickly on clients’ demands, provide reliable and tested solutions, and shorten time to market.

Our in-house training facilities helped to scale qualified resources in a shorter period of time compared to recruiting an already scarce pool of talent in the market. And in four years, our company grew from having only 40 employees to 350.

4. Building a relentless sales team

We found the traditional way of building a sales team didn’t fit with our strategy .

A fundamental change in the sales process also took place when we went from introducing our services to other agencies to directly engaging with merchants. We needed a sales team that’s flexible enough to adapt to the transition.

Our sales team now consists of young people who are teachable and willing to face challenges. Their competence and can-do attitude compensate for their lack of experience.

5. Creating a culture that embraces change

We realized the power of culture shortly after our first year of scaling up. As more people came to join the company, we observed that culture changed the way people worked together.

We developed a core culture and value system that encourage employees to embrace changes for the better. As we need to innovate every year to adapt to the market, we must sometimes restructure and adjust business processes. Working with new hires, moving from team to team, and any other necessary changes are important for progress.

We are also able to maintain our culture throughout the company through an engagement program. The courses include training of not only hard knowledge but also culture and professional working behavior. This results in every employee sharing the same set of values.

These are some of the lessons I learned along the way. When deciding to scale your business either by specializing or diversifying, timing is important, as the market may not always be ready for a new niche. However, if you can solve the puzzle of growing while simultaneously raising the bar to meet clients’ expectations, then you should be on the right track.

BouliBrand™ is a boutique marketing + entrepreneurship + communications + branding movement focused on creating vibrant, purposeful and revenue-generating media experiences on a partner-by-partner basis. With strategic partnerships in New York, Toronto, Athens, Los Angeles, New Delhi and Shanghai, we work directly with savvy, driven and optimistic clients wanting to produce fresh platforms of communication and target nouveau markets internationally with their startup businesses and services. BouliBrand is propelled by Georgios (George) Stroumboulis (Γιώργος Στρουμπούλης) - an internationally seasoned marketing professional with tangible business experiences across multiple industries and diverse cultures. To learn more about BouliBrand, Georgios and the stimulating team spearheading the BouliBrand movement forward, get in contact at www.BouliBrand.com, www.Facebook.com/BouliBrand, www.Twitter.com/Stroumboulis (@stroumboulis), www.Instagram.com/Stroumboulis (@stroumboulis), www.LinkedIn.com/in/Stroumboulis, www.YouTube.com/Stroumboulis or www.Pinterest.com/BouliBrand. BouliBrand shares progressive industry information related to the marketing, branding, entrepreneurship, investment, networking, financing, start-up, public relations, internet, web, creative and business movement. We gather select articles, blogs, news, posts, press releases, announcements, interviews, commentary, videos, clips and anything we feel might be worth reviewing for our visitors, followers, clients and partners.

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