Not all companies are destined to become juggernauts. Some businesses are inherently impossible or difficult to grow beyond a certain size. Of course with enough resources you can attempt to force growth; unfortunately, this growth is often accompanied by the deterioration of the operational efficiency of the business. Fortunately for the more ambitious among us, there are still businesses which can grow in both size and revenue without losing efficiency. These kinds of businesses are said to be scalable. Here are a few such businesses which can be started locally.

Software development

No other industry best demonstrates scalability like software development one. Companies which develop and sell software can grow revenue at a rate that far outpaces that of expenses. Software developers only incur significant costs when developing the software. Unlimited copies of this software can then be produced for sale at almost no additional cost. Excluded here are all those companies which develop customized systems—these businesses can become unwieldy as they grow in size and cannot be described as scalable in general.


Restaurants, stores and fast food joints can all be operated as chains which share names, branding and other features. Not only do these chains have economies of scale which allow growth in their revenues to outpace that in their expenses, but they also have standardised ways of running each of their units in such a way that efficiency is maintained no matter how big the chain grows. The large size of these chains also allows them to buy in such bulk that they can easily negotiate discounts and favourable payment terms with suppliers. In this way, costs are kept low while the thinner margins they can afford to allow them to draw in more customers and push more volumes. Another advantage they have is that of increased brand visibility.

Standardise operations

As businesses grow in size so do their hierarchies. Often this growth in the size of the organisational structure complicates decision-making processes and leads to inefficiencies in how the company is run. One way of reducing these inefficiencies which are caused by the increase in decision-makers is reducing the number of actual decisions that have to be made by lower-level employees. The standardisation of all tasks down to the minutiae of food preparation in operations like Chicken Inn allows them to keep their costs and risk of losing money low despite their sheer sizes.

Book publishing

Despite all indications to the contrary, the book publishing industry is not yet dead. Schools, in particular, depend heavily on the book publishing industry for their teaching material. These publishers can keep their costs very low as even authors only get their royalties when books are sold. The scalability here is obvious if you realise that extremely few if any, publishers do their printing. Even the smallest of publishers can have massive catalogues.


Few other businesses have demonstrated their ability to scale better than online retailers. Granted we are still yet to see any significant local success stories but the potential of this kind of business is undeniable.

Rental properties

Admittedly renting out property may not appear to be that scalable at first glance because of the steep initial capital requirements that such business demands. What is important to realise, however, is that once the properties are in your control you can collect rentals for a very long time with very little additional costs on your part. The growth in the number of properties you manage can easily be accommodated without any loss of efficiency in how the business is run.

E-books and online courses

If you can put together unique and valuable information, you can make money from it through any of several revenue models. Valuable knowledge can be compiled into electronic books or online courses which you can either directly charge for or make money from through advertising. In such cases, the size of your audience is only limited by the number of people who are interested in your content. Just like software, such digital products cost very little to distribute with most of the effort being required during production.

Branchless banks

Our country’s reduced reliance on physical cash—no matter how unwelcome—has reduced the number of bank visits by depositors and demonstrated that it may be possible to operate these without the extensive branch networks which are the pride of many of these institutions. Even just before the onset of the current cash shortages, many banks were adopting agent banking, a practice in which businesses like retailers can act as these institutions’ surrogates for services like deposits and withdrawals. Through the extensive use of technology and third parties to operate as agents it is possible to operate a bank with few to no branches.