Book Review – Scale: Seven Proven Principles to Grow Your Business and Get Your Life Back, Jeff Hoffman & David Finkel


I have recently read this book a second time. Why? Our business is ready to grow, and I recalled there being some simple, easy-to-apply, tools and techniques to adopt that might guide us on our way. During this second reading I took a LOT of notes and we now have a plan to follow. The book is rated 4.9 out of 5 on Amazon, so it seems many others agree.

Scale contains an excellent set of tools, which are backed by substantial business operational and finance theory more than “startup scene slogans”. The book is an essential guide to setting up the foundations upon which you can take your business to the next level of growth and maturity, then beyond.

The Seven Principles cover every aspect of managing a business, from self-awareness of where you are as a business, through establishing a framework of processes and controls, to more specific external environment and work on strategy & leadership. It tips a hat to Michael Gerber’s E-Myth Revisited in that it really emphasises that a growing company will drop the dependence on the manager at some point, allowing the manager to focus more on the business than the operations, and that there is a “way we do things” developed that can itself be an asset for sale.

It provides a clear lifespan on which to locate your business in that is referenced back in the principles, so it is ideal that you are clear where you are at, as this knowledge is required throughout:

  • Level One is start-ups getting ready to launch
  • Level Two Early Stage is start-ups trying to access a market
  • Level Two Middle Stage is when you escape the self-employment trap by starting to developing systems
  • Level Three is the exit stage: taking a back step and having more life, or selling the business.

The Seven Principles in seven nutshells are:

  1. Build a business not a job – establish the aim to be not indispensable to the business.
  2. Build on the scalable base of systems, team, and internal controls – the framework of managing & operating every aspect of the business.
  3. Understand why your customers really do business with you – establish marketing & branding foundations.
  4. Create the right strategic path – understand your business strengths, choice of product, service, market, business model, pricing, and supply chain.
  5. Learn to read the world so you can build for tomorrows marketplace – monitoring your external environment to predict changes.
  6. Remove the predictable obstacles to growth – a great section taking into account each pillar separately and how to identify and overcome obstacles.
  7. You do have the time to scale your company – leadership and time management tips.

The three pillars mentioned above cover the main growth aspects of Sales/Marketing, Operations, and Finance. For most small businesses this is a comprehensive coverage of the entire business, so it is a sturdy platform from which to approach applying the tools in each principle. Nothing is left out.

It is very well organised, so much so, the book can be reduced to a clear system, a roadmap, to the extent of a to-do list that you can enter at any time via one of the 7 principles and end up achieving something positive.

It has many tools and resources to go with the advice and guidance, it is hard to get lost, you really get a sense of what you need to do in a focus exercise of scaling your business.

You could take-away from it the cliche, that scaling a business is a marathon not a sprint. However, a marathon has a finish line where as this might not necessarily result in an acquisition of your business. The point being is it can take quite a long time to go through and apply the tools, tips, and exercises in each principle and under each pillar, so be prepared to take a long view when putting it all into practice.

This is the next step for us, putting the principles into practice. Keep an eye on our growth for the results.

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