Do you know the clear signs for engaging in small business growth? This morning I worked with a very bright and capable small business owner who quit a six-figure job about a year ago to create a business she's dreamed of. She's done a fantastic job of getting the basic framework of her business up and running in the past year – she's made critical contacts in her community, marketed well, and is making a modest profit right now despite pretty high start up costs.
Her question to me was “what's next?” as she can see that her current business model will only allow her to stay small, at a “hobbyist” level. She wants to live off this business, meaning she needs to net six figures. She's smart enough to realize that she can't get to that number doing what she's doing right now.
Here are the three things I heard her say – all of them a sign it's time to ramp it up or call it a hobby.
- She's working herself to capacity and can't leverage her time any more.
- She clearly identifies 2 opportunities and is hesitant to commit because of a lack of time and production facilities.
- She's getting frustrated and burnt out running on the gerbil wheel she has created, realizing she's working hard for very little net profit right now.
I see this exact situation often – the business is established but the path forward to small business growth is not charted. What has happened? The vision this woman had at the beginning has been realized – she has to expand her vision and see herself as bigger, then execute a plan to get there.
This is the exact point at which I see business owners quit. They are afraid to take the leap to ramp it up after they've worked so hard to get established. Usually, it's because ramping up means another level entirely of financial commitment. Small business owners get afraid to re-invest in the business….it's suddenly a “real” business with “real” costs – more than you can comfortably put on a credit card or comfortably lose. And maybe more than your spouse will support, too.
The sad thing is that most of the time making the decision to ramp up is just at the point when your business could triple or quadruple your income – you are so darn close. But no one trains us to invest in ourselves, right? No one trains us to think like a business owner. We will invest “around the edges” – at a price that doesn't risk and doesn't hurt much.
For this woman, she's got to systematize her business and begin to delegate out portions of the business. She needs someone to handle the online sales. She needs storefront help who can open and close for her. She probably needs someone to handle online marketing. What does she need to keep for herself? Local community building (being the face of her business) and designing new product to sell. Everything else should eventually be someone else's job.
Is it time to face small business growth in your own business? Remember systematize, staff up, delegate everything but the key functions of creating offers and building your tribe. Frame up your new business model and execute it a step at a time. But ramp it up – otherwise you are marching in place and will soon start thinking “is this worth it?”
Want to know how to get support from your spouse, family, and friends? You can check out my e-book on this exact topic.
I'd love your comments below about how you've handled this critical junction – are you still stuck on the gerbil wheel or are you into your expansion now?