Originally posted April 9, 2014 by Mike Michalowicz on www.americanexpress.com.

Hoping to scale your business this year? You can do it–if you have these 3 elements in place.

Congratulations! You’ve achieved a measure of success with your business. You’ve created a great product, and you’re getting the word out. Your income is increasing, and you’re ready to take the next step.
If you’re looking for the formula that will help you build your business exponentially, I’m about to give it to you. Now, don’t make the mistake of thinking there’s a worry-free, easy road to success. If that were true, businesses would never fail.
What I will share with you, though, is a reliable formula for scaling your business up—a tested and proven method of making it work harder for you. It’s not an effortless path, but you will arrive at your destination.
And here’s the key before we get started: You can’t just pick one of the following three elements and expect exponential growth. The magic solution is the intersection of all three of these elements, working together, to create a successful, profitable business.
Better isn’t better; different is better. You must find the point of difference that you offer—that thing your company does that no one business can provide. Therein lies your opportunity.
Think about Starbucks for a moment. There are other coffee companies, but none are so ubiquitous or successful. Here’s why: It’s hard to differentiate yourself sufficiently. Some coffee shops may offer a slightly better product, some of them might even do it for a slightly better price, but unless a company can find a way to be significantly different, then Starbucks remains the default for many latte addicts.
Different is better. If you’re going to defeat a category leader like Starbucks, you must give prospective customers a compelling reason to choose your product.

Recurring Business From Top Clients
Start by taking a look at your industry, and determine who the top spenders are. Then create a strategy for how to get access to them. Next, look at your own business, and find a way to clone your best clients—either by converting middling clients to better ones or by finding ways to connect with more big spenders.
Don’t underestimate the importance of your community as a source for new clients, even if your business is a one-time use sort of outfit. Think about funeral homes: I can’t think of a more single-use type of business, but in providing excellent service, a funeral home can pick up additional business from the families and friends who see and value the excellent work the business is providing. Find a way to cultivate good, repeat business.

Systems, Systems, Systems
Here’s a simple, incontrovertible truth: You can’t scale your business exponentially if you insist on handling everything yourself. There’s just not enough of you to go around.
The solution is to systematize everything that makes sense. Look—and look hard—at every aspect of your business for ways you can streamline, automate and delegate your way to maximum efficiency. If your business can run an entire cycle—from landing a client through billing a client—while you’re asleep, then you have limitless potential to scale your business. Systems are more efficient and infinitely reproducible.

Putting It All Together
So when does the magic start? It’s when you get all three elements working together. It’s when your coffee shop brings in loyal, repeat clients for large catering gigs because they’ve spent countless pleasurable hours at your shop, which is run by a reliable manager, offers fresh local food and has a gift shop stocked with the work of local artists. It’s when your accounting firm—staffed by mobile accountants who travel to businesses to meet with busy entrepreneurs—is invited to speak at a chamber of commerce meeting and sign up your community’s business leaders for your unique service, while explaining the system you’ve created that automates your billing and receivables process and makes you super efficient.
Being good in your field isn’t enough if you want to scale your business up. Landing clients isn’t enough, and systematizing isn’t enough. Think that challenge is too great? Here’s the encouraging part: Achieve in these three areas, and you’re virtually guaranteed success.
Focusing your attention where it really matters—on uniqueness, recurring business from good clients, and systematization—is a delicious recipe for success.