Do things differently
There’s a famous saying (often credited to Albert Einstein): ‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.’
If you’re looking to achieve growth in your business—growth that you haven’t already seen—then you must put different practices into play.
If all you do, day to day, is fight fire and simply focus on keeping your head above water, growth will not occur. It’s not that anyone would doubt your work ethic or commitment to the business if this is the case, it’s just that your daily choices will not be serving you well if you’re considering scaling up.
If you don’t have the time to sit and think strategically about your business, growth will be out of your hands.
It can be a little scary to hand over low value, menial tasks to someone else if you’re used to controlling every element of your business, but this is the only way to free up time to make better/strategic decisions—you won’t magically find a few spare hours down the back of the sofa. It may also feel counter-intuitive, if you’re only just making ends meet, to pay someone else to work in the business, but how else can you escape your situation if you don’t do something differently?
Technology could streamline and automate some of your workload; this may appear daunting, but such software is worth its weight in gold if they take away some of the heavy burden at the touch of a button and free up some of your time.
Scaling your business can be achieved by following a series of baby steps.
Value Your Time
You may enjoy doing the run-of-the-mill tasks within your business—they may give you the opportunity to zone out for a while, and they’re often jobs that provide immediate gratification.
As a business owner, however, how much is your time worth?
Let’s follow an example. Say you spend an hour pulling in a new sale that brings five hundred pounds into the business. That would be a better hour spent than one used to add up your petrol receipts—something you could outsource to a book-keeper who would probably charge you £25 an hour.
There will be some that argue that an actual cost of £25 an hour is expensive when pitched against the possibility of a sale totalling hundreds…but we’re back to that Einstein quote again. Not every hour spent making new connections, following opportunities and promoting your wares will equal a sale, but even if it equates to one in every ten hours spent exploring growth in your business, you’ll still be in profit.
In our example, working smarter looks like this:
~ 10 hours spent on a book-keeper to free up time to find new business costs the owner £250
~ 10 hours spent on sales, marketing and business growth achieves a sale of £500
Profit from this move: £250
Is fear holding you back?
It’s easy to get into a rut or to stay firmly rooted in your comfort zone. As in, you know how your day-to-day looks and you feel better being in full control of every aspect of your business.
Maybe you stay this way because growing your business would change your daily routine. You would have to do less and think more. You would need to make tougher decisions and perhaps manage other people. Though the rewards are great when a business grows, the perceived pressure can seem greater, too. For some people, staying put is safer. It’s what they know. It doesn’t equal too many sleepless nights.
If this sounds like you, you’re not looking for growth—in fact, you’re probably preventing it. You like things as they are, you’d just like more financial reward for the many hours you toil away.
Unfortunately, instigating growth means change. It means putting yourself out there more than you are now. It doesn’t necessarily mean more pressure and sleepless nights if you take the right advice and make good decisions.
Don’t let fear hold you back from building your business. If running a successful, thriving company was so painful, no one would do it.
How would you cope with any growth in your business? If your company was to suddenly mushroom, where would the extra time and practical support come from that would allow you to deal with the all the additional orders/enquiries? You would need to ask for help from others—whether family, friends, third-party professionals or technology/automation. You would have to relinquish some control; you’d have no choice. Let’s face it, Jeff Bezos isn’t packing boxes on an Amazon conveyor belt somewhere.
If you’re thinking of scaling up your business, you need to think about support NOW—before you go forth and multiply. Expect that you will become more hands-off and focused on the management of, and decisions relating to, the company, than physically working within it yourself…producing orders, providing services.
There is only a set amount of time in a week. If you were to continue to provide/carry out everything within your business this time limit will prevent you from growing. It’s scary to consider someone else providing your offering under your name; after all, if anything went wrong, it’s your reputation at stake. However, this is where good management and bringing the very best people into your business apply.
Growth will be more likely if you have an idea of where the company is heading. If you can visualise where you would like your business to be in five years’ time and what it will look like, you can make plans to achieve this and work backwards, which will give you the steps you need to take to go forward from this moment.
Some businesses, due to changes in consumers’ habits and needs, may see their business suddenly sprout without any effort from the owner(s). If not carefully managed, however, such a boost will eventually peter out.
Having a goal will help you build on any growth—curated or accidental—and it will also help to sustain it, as you’ll have a destination to reach towards and a plan to work to. It also helps you to filter your actions; of any task on your plate, you can ask yourself if it will ultimately help you reach your goal. If the answer is yes, complete it; if it won’t, disregard it. You don’t need to be sweating the small stuff when you have big plans on the go.
Growth is possible in practically any business. Much of it comes down to you, your mindset, and the actions you decide to take.
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