Scale Definitions

Journal Articles

Scalability refers to a venture’s ability to: Reference
Replicate and disseminate its programs, products, ideas, or innovative approaches Westley et al., 2014, p. 237
Affect more people and cover a larger geographic area Westley et al., 2014, p. 237
Maintaining quality performance goals when user numbers or other characteristics vary Zhang, Lichtenstein, & Gander, 2015
Achieve its desired value creation and capture targets when user/customer numbers increase and their needs change, without adding proportionate extra resources. Zhang, Lichtenstein, & Gander, 2015
Deal with changes in business volume, business space (markets and customers), and business model configuration Juntunen et al., 2018
Provide exponentially increasing returns to scale in terms of growth from additional resources applied Lund & Nielsen, 2018
Increase its total output under an increased load when resources are added Lund & Nielsen, 2018
Expand output on demand when resources are added Nielsen & Lund, 2018

Reports and Unpublished Articles

Scalability refers to a venture’s ability to: Reference
Increase revenue and/or impact exponentially as resources are added incrementally Coussa et al., 2018
Grow the number of employees or revenue by 20 per cent a year over a three-year period, and with 10 or more employees at the beginning of the observation period Coutu, 2014
Grow from 10 to 5,000 employees and beyond. Coutu, 2014
Pass the seed and series A stage and enter series B or higher. Duruflé, Hellmann and Wilson, 2017

Conference Proceedings

Scalability refers to a venture’s capability to: Reference
Acquire new resources to meet increases in demand Kelestyn, Henfridsson, & Nandhakumar, 2017, p. 4776


Scalability refers to a venture’s ability to: Reference
Maintain or increase its level of performance or efficiency when performing under an increased or expanding workload Investopedia
Grow without being hampered by its structure or available resources Investopedia
Implement processes that lead to an efficient operation Investopedia
Add revenue at an exponential rate while only adding resources at an incremental rate (e.g., add customers at a quick pace while adding very few additional resources to service those customers) Fundable
Enable next sale to require less time and effort than the one prior to it (e.g., once the costly development stage is complete, the company who made the software can sell as many copies as it wants as fast as it needs to with very little incremental cost) Fundable
Produce the product faster and cheaper for every additional customer who buys it Fundable
Replicate the value of their solution very quickly and inexpensively (e.g., people were selling junk out of their garages just fine before eBay came along; however, eBay found a way to make the process work faster and cheaper) Fundable
Automate the delivery process of its goods or services Fundable
Optimize efforts, not duplicates efforts Josh Lowry
Increase sales volume while keeping costs unchanged or decreases them Josh Lowry
Operate infrastructures that enables scale-up when customer demand is high without having to invest in new hardware and reduce server capacity and (scale-down) during normal operating periods Josh Lowry
Grow revenue with minimal or no increase in operating costs (e.g., administrative, sales, etc.). (e.g., in Year 1, company delivers $10M in revenue with $1M in operating costs. In Year 2, company delivers $12M in revenue with $1M in operating costs. Company scales because it grew revenue by $2M without increasing its operating costs. This is common with software and other technology companies who develop IP at an early stage and subsequently monetize it at low marginal costs over time.  if company requires its operating costs to increase by $2M to grow its revenue by $2M, the business is not scaling.  Consulting firms like Accenture and McKinsey & Company are prime examples of organizations that do not scale.  This is because there are a fixed number of billable hours in a day, so they add consultants on a one-to-one basis to grow revenue.) Josh Lowry
Has a repeatable sales model Josh Lowry
Increases the size, amount, or extent of something Merriam-Webster
Grows or expand in a proportional and usually profitable way Merriam-Webster
Profitably reaches many people Merriam-Webster
Can handle a growing amount of work or sales in a capable, cost-effective manner Tallyfy
Can cope with an increased amount of work while maintaining or increasing its efficiency. Tallyfy
Grow revenue exponentially while keeping operating costs low. Tallyfy
Has operating leverage – additional revenue requires relatively smaller and smaller additions to operating costs Alex Taussig
Has big revenue multiples – public markets reward them Alex Taussig
Approach the limits of growth
Grow while adapting to a larger workload without compromising performance or losing revenue. Patel, 2014
Handle a growing amount of work in a capable, cost-effective manner. Johnson, undated