Being in the small business world for the past few years has taught me more than any University education could ever do. I think all entrepreneurs can agree on this?
It’s “learning by doing” all the way, and it always comes with both success and failures.
For every business, there’s one topic which is always present: growth. For example:
- Should we hire more staff?
- Should we create other products?
- Should we offer more services?
Growing bigger doesn’t always feel like the right thing to do, but it’s what you should do…right? Grow or die?
Grow or die, or improve or die?
All business owners think about growth. You want to make more money, hire more staff, expand your service or product offerings, etc.
Now, stop for a second and think about that. Do you really want to grow your business?
We’re so ingrained with “bigger is always better” and “grow or die”, but have you thought about the consequences?
With growth comes a whole range of new experiences and problems – things you’re not prepared for:
Do you know how to manage staff in the best way possible? Do you even want to?
With more staff, your company culture will change. How do you keep or create the culture you want?
By offering a new type of services, are you still attracting the customers you really want?
If you get more customers, are you still able to provide the same high quality?
When your business grows, do you have the processes in place to cope with it?
If you’re growing, will the competition change? Who are your new competitors, and how will you be better than them?
Bigger company means more administration, rules and bureaucracy…and it will eat the entrepreneurial spirit. Are you ok with that?
Bigger isn’t always better – being better is more important than being bigger. Understand that constant improvement is the DNA of growth (take a few minutes and Google “Kaizen”)
Is your growth connected to the core of your business?
I believe everything you do should be connected to the core mission and vision of your company.
You have written down your mission and vision, right? If not, open your notepad and start writing. You might have the concept in your head, but putting it in writing is what makes you really understand:
- what you’re doing
- why you’re doing it
- how you want to do it
- who your customers are
- what you want to achieve
What do you need to grow your business?
To grow a business, you need to have an excess of resources…usually time and money:
- Time and money to hire the right people.
- Time to train people.
- Time to put processes in place.
- Time to let the pieces fall into the right place.
- Time to catch up and adjust.
- Time and money to deal with the unexpected.
- Money to invest in the resources you need to reach your goal.
Gas pedal approach
Growth doesn’t happen over-night. It doesn’t even happen in a straight upward trend over time. You’ll grow for a while, then take a break and adjust. Rinse and repeat.
Think of growth as driving a car from point A to B. You don’t push the gas pedal to the floor 100% of the journey – you go full speed for a while, then you have to stop or slow down…and then push the gas pedal to the floor again when time is right.
Pay attention to your people and business, and adjust the speed when needed. Allow yourself to reflect, re-group and re-focus.
Ideas that can help you grow successfully
Plan and prepare – Sounds boring? I promise you’ll thank yourself later for spending time in this phase. Do your research, and then make a plan. Prepare your tasks and goals for the next weeks, months, years (whatever your timeline is).
Strategic laser-focus on your goal - On your ideal customer, on your optimal product. Be brave: say no to people and projects that are not aligned with your goal.
Profitable growth - To be able to grow, you need excess of resources. Usually time and/or money. Make sure your growth is profitable, as it allows you to use the profit for the next round of growth.
Business is about people - Your customers are your biggest asset – look after them.
Growth means change - This means new things, and change is not easy for a lot of people. Keep an eye on your people, processes and control. Change and adapt. Rinse and repeat.
I’m attending an online education called “Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Private Businesses” and it’s a real eye-opener! It’s free to attend, so check it out and sign up if you’re a business owner.
Remember: “free” doesn’t mean it’s easy. You’ll attend many online lectures (videos) and do a lot of reading and thinking, but put the effort in and you’ll thank yourself later!
We’re now on week 5, and the quality is way beyond my expectations! Again, if you’re a business owner, I warmly recommend you to check out this course (and other courses) on Coursera.org
What do you think about what you’ve just read? Do you agree, or disagree? Is there something I forgot to mention? Let me know in the comments.