How Scott Gellatly Went From Trading Time for Money to Scaling Profitably Within 4 Years With Scale My Empire

27 June, 2019
Bean Ninjas

Bean Ninjas

5 minutes
Scott Gellatly podcast

Frustrated with working in corporate settings, Scott Gellatly knew he had to take ownership of what he was doing professionally, and branch out on his own terms.

He knew he wanted to do something more meaningful, something that really made a difference to his clients, and so Bollo Empire was born.

Scott’s original business idea was a cloud tech consulting company with the aim of helping small businesses become more efficient in their delivery.

Related article: What is cloud computing?

Fast forward 4 years and Bollo Empire has evolved considerably! Now existing under the new (and very appropriate) business name of Scale My Empire (SME), Scott now helps business owners to create highly profitable, innovative and scalable services businesses that create impact, earn recognition and leave a legacy

From Bollo Empire to Scale My Empire

Scott recognises that in the early days as Bollo Empire, the model he was working under didn’t offer him much flexibility or scalability:

Like most consulting firms, we originally traded time for money. As we’ve refined our ideal client we’ve been able to make the service more productive to the point we can offer a monthly set fee to deliver over time.

Leveraging a dynamic contractor team, Scott has been able to create a business that’s not only delivering enormous value for a reasonable cost, but is also profitable.

Scale My Empire founder Scott Gellatly tells all about how he scaled his own empire - and the support Bean Ninjas provides him with to do that! #ScaleMyEmpire Click To Tweet

While Scott identifies SME is more profitable than Bollo Empire, it was a long journey to get there.

He learnt a lot of lessons in the four years it took to transform Bollo Empire into Scale My Empire. That included deploying some significant growth tactics:

“Firstly, I realised we were vastly undercharging for our services. So step one was to just increase what we charged. Then I sought out customers that would be able to fully realise the return on investment and afford the new pricing!”

Scott identified that these were valuable clients, and even though he was seeking to elevate the business, he still needed to provide them with a great experience – even if that meant handing them over to someone else.

“I made sure that I had a great network of freelancers that could still provide an excellent level of service to anyone that didn’t fit our new business profile, but also to take over some client accounts that simply weren’t profitable for us.”

Although it was a hard decision to let go of existing business, Scott knew it was the right decision to make:

“I really went the extra mile to make sure anyone we had to handover had a great experience. But once we got through that wall, we entered a whole new phase of business.”

Related article: Business Growth Story: Bean Ninjas – from 0 to $100k in 8 months

A New Way of Working

It wasn’t just changing the client base that Scott identified as a necessary development. He knew he had to completely rethink the way he staffed the business. His operational strategy was then given an overhaul as well.

dynamic contractor team

“Around the same time, I totally flipped my organisational strategy. We used to have full-time staff and due to the nature of consulting work, which can be ‘lumpy’ month to month (income), it was always very hard to forecast cash flow and make intelligent spending decisions – not mention actually stay profitable!”

This new operational business model tied project delivery costs directly to the revenue he was making.

He wound down his full-time team and engaged with contractors on a project by project basis instead.

This was another hard decision but ultimately, one that has paid off:

“This didn’t happen overnight of course, but now some of my full-time team are now contracting to me while running their own freelance gigs, others were existing freelancers that were looking for more consistent work without having to prospect themselves. All are extremely talented and experienced individuals.”

This new operational model works well for both Scott and his contractors. He provides them with the framework and the system to deliver excellent, high-quality work. The contractors know what work is coming in when, and how much they’ll be paid. Scott now only has a small overhead to tackle to each month.

Related article: How to make business outsourcing work for you

“Now my largest expense becomes a COS line (affecting gross profit, not net profit) and is directly tied to revenue generated. It winds up and down as the ‘lumps’ come and go.”

Scaling Profitability

scaling profitably

Because the new model is so closely linked with project costs and revenue, Scott has been able to achieve significant profit growth.

“The largest source of income for us, about 85%, has been services. Predominantly from referrals and strategic partnerships with software vendors. We expect our digital strategy to start having a meaningful impact to that by first quarter 2018.”

As with many consultancy based firms, the remainder of SMEs profits come from affiliate fees from various software vendors and partners, as well some educational content that is delivered through online community partnerships:

“This is actually an area we are going to actively push further in 2018 to create a low-cost recurring revenue stream that will improve our own bottom line dramatically.”

Related article: Fixed-Fee vs. Value-Based Pricing: Which is Best?

Bean Ninjas helps our clients focus on what really matters: their business! Scott Gellatly, founder of Scale My Empire reveals his business success and how Bean Ninjas plays a role in that. Click To Tweet

Scott has big plans when it comes to increasing profitability, and having the right financial team behind him is crucial to helping him achieve his goals.

“We expect to do around $750k this financial year, with the goal of $1.25M next financial year. We’ve effectively doubled or tripled revenue year on year since we started so it’s just a natural journey of growth as we mature.”

In terms of how Bean Ninja’s supports Scott in this goal, he is very clear on two points:

“The fast response time from (Bean) Ninjas to my queries and coding changes means I always know what’s happening, and how well they work with my Accountant. I feel really confident my books are being reconciled correctly for tax, but also for my reporting which is seamless each month.”

Related: Bean Ninja Team Member Spotlight: Tom Mercer

Knowing Your Limitations

operational strategy

Although Scott makes running his highly successful business look easy, he admits he’s learnt a few lessons along the way. One of those has been acknowledging his own limitations – and getting over them.

“I’m a ‘systems guy’ and just love to build and refine my own internal platforms. It comes at the expense of marketing the business, which means our lead flow has always been a stretch. It forced us to learn how to maximise our sales. Thankfully we do an excellent job of delivery and we understand our customer challenges extremely well, so it was quite easy to overcome that ‘I don’t like selling’ attitude Founders often fall victim to in early stage business.”

Scott has found that engaging with and being part of other entrepreneurial communities, and learning from other like-minded people, has been a key factor in helping him get over his limitations and putting his focus back into the business.

“Build Live Give, The Entourage and Business Blueprint have been the most helpful sources of knowledge throughout the journey. Their events force me to put down tools for a few days and just focus on my business. The constant social media interaction keeps their messages top of mind.”

Your success story is definitely going to stay at the top of our minds, Scott!

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