Developing a Scalable Subscription Business Model: 6 Considerations

It’s almost the end of another year – which means many businesses are now looking ahead. Whether you’ve got a grand plan for your subscription business or wish to maintain a steady rate of growth, developing – and adopting – a scalable model is vital. It’s also pretty exciting!

However, scaling your business is rarely an easy process. Things change as you grow; whilst in the early days, sheer grit and ingenuity can go a long way (like calling in favours from key stakeholders or even friends and family), as your brand evolves, fortitude and persistence are no longer enough to propel the company forward. In this blog, we’ll talk about a few things to consider when developing your blueprint, to ensure that you’re ready for the unique challenges of scaling a subscription business.

6 Considerations for Developing a Scalable Subscription Busines Model

The first key consideration, which we haven’t included on this list – because it’s more general – is timing. Unfortunately, there’s no real one-size-fits-all piece of advice for deciding when it’s the right time to scale up: only you can make that call. However, to ensure that you stand the best chance of scaling successfully, there are some boxes to tick:

1) Think about your supply and distribution chain.

This can be one of the trickiest parts of growing your business: because the suppliers you’ve relied on from the start, with whom you may have developed close links, may not be growing at the same rate. If you’re going to increase order volume substantially you need to find suppliers and distributors who can handle this without dropping standards – which might necessitate making a switch.

2) Identify the best systems to support rapid growth.

As your business grows, your needs will grow - which means you need to evaluate everything from your e-commerce platform to your credit card processing system. Simple, inexpensive options that once served may not be able to handle the uptick in orders and information; and if you wish to continue providing a high level of service, this is something that needs to be tackled sooner rather than later. Sophisticated billing subscription platforms like Billsby have been designed to adapt and grow in line with your business, but not every platform is the same, so do consider your options carefully - as these could either help or hinder your progress.

3) Ensure your data collection and analysis processes are futureproofed.

The provision of timely information – and analysis – is central to business success. Indeed, data friction is often responsible for everything from bad marketing decisions to poor customer service. Invest an adequate level of resource now in assembling both the systems and teams to be able to handle large data sets from different service providers. This will help ensure that you stay ahead of the curve - delivering the outstanding levels of service your customers require - whilst reducing churn.

(If you're looking for more tips on how to improve retention and eliminate churn, check out our recent blog: 'Four Simple Ways to Reduce Customer Churn'.).

4) Consider how you will provide excellent-quality, tailored customer services as your base grows.

It’s an all-too familiar scenario: a company succeeds through championing its customers, then begins to lose customers rapidly as they grow (because, as they expand, service levels dwindle). Ensuring that your customer support model is scalable is one of the best uses of your time as you contemplate the next steps. Our top tip? Focus on retention as well as acquisition. There’s a lot of value in selling to the same customer over an extended period of time – and it takes different skills. Invest in training staff and setting up protocols to cater to both front-end and back-end customer care.

5) Think about data protection and security.

If your intention is to grow from 1,000 customers to 100,000 customers, it’s crucial that you have robust, secure systems through which to handle the huge amounts of data that will be coming into the business. Security snags can damage the credibility of your business faster than anything else (and can prove costly, too – leading to refunds and compensation payouts, not to mention the loss of future business). Interrogate every element of your company’s data architecture and identify any gaps; then invest in sophisticated tools and training for staff to make sure you (and your customers) will be protected as you scale.

6) Think carefully about international expansion.

When thinking about scaling your business, international trade seems an alluring possibility: untapped markets, new audiences, keener appetites… the advantages are seemingly endless. However, one of the biggest mistakes a company can make is to rush their international expansion. For one thing, there are a plethora of region-specific considerations to navigate (like complicated tax laws or distribution hurdles), all of which can put a strain on your existing infrastructure. Moreover, you run the risk of spreading yourself too thin – unless you’re absolutely sure you’ve consolidated your offering, have achieved what you set out to domestically, and are ready for a new challenge. If that’s the case, it might be time: but do take care to make sure you’re aware of potential pitfalls and have the systems and networks in place to handle them (platforms like Billsby, for example, have specially-designed tax and compliance solutions in place to allow you to trade globally without any headaches).

Are you ready to take your subscription business to the next level? Billsby has all the tools you need to accelerate business growth, support new customers and maximise retention. Start your free trial today for a sneak peek at the many benefits available to Billsby users!