We’ve all said it: “My business is my baby.” Like children, businesses grow and eventually you’ll find yourself looking for a village to help you out. Expanding your business—either out of demand or a desire for more time to yourself—is a challenging process.
Here are some of the things you need to be prepared for:
Incorporating a System of Checks and Balances
The first thing I help my clients understand is that employees often don’t have the same passion for the work as you do. It’s important to put proper controls in place to make sure that your profits and product quality don’t just walk out the door.
If you haven’t taken the time to define your business’s mission and values, the moment prior to hiring new employees is the time to start. That will help you attract the right people and employ those whose values are aligned with those of your growing company.
Being Open to Change
If you’re hiring people at the managerial level to take over some of your work, you must understand that they may make decisions differently than you. It’s important to trust the people you’ve hired to make the right decisions—you have to be open to change and roll with that so people feel fulfilled at your company.
While you’re at it, don’t just hire someone who will do things the same way you would! Spend some time evaluating your business and thinking about what it needs to go to the next level. Hire people with the proven experience of making that happen.
Taking Home a Lower Salary
Keep in mind that when you hire employees to distribute your workload, you also have to distribute the revenues from your company. The additional wages will detract from the profit margin you once enjoyed as a solo entrepreneur.
For business owners who see their salary as the company’s profits, I recommend separating wages from profit for a few months prior to hiring someone new. Losing the income is less disconcerting when you recognize that you’re buying your time back by paying a salary to an employee.
Earning Investment Income
When you hire people to do your work, you’re paying for their time and you don’t get paid for yours anymore. But that doesn’t mean you won’t still earn an income. You’ll need to build the business to a level of profitability that allows you to live off the investment side of the company.
In other words, your income will result from the performance of the company as opposed to individual effort.
Having More Time to Yourself
For entrepreneurs accustomed to being deeply involved in the day-to-day work, one of the hardest parts is actually stepping back from the business. Make sure you have a plan for what you want to do—are you going to spend more time with your family? Travel? Take up a new hobby?
You’ve built a business that essentially runs itself (with the help of others)—it’s time to enjoy it.
Expanding your business and hiring employees is a bit like giving your teenager the keys to your car: it’s scary and you have no idea what they’re doing out there. But with time to adjust to the idea (and maybe a GPS navigation system), you’ll feel a lot better.
Thinking about sharing the reins of your business? Give us a call today and we’ll help you go from sole proprietor to employer!
Recently, a colleague asked me a tough question: When did you realize you were cut out for small business ownership?
In the beginning, entrepreneurship just made sense because it paid in the currencies I valued: independence, flexibility, and accountability to my values instead of someone else’s. The question really got me thinking about what it takes to not only be an entrepreneur, but succeed at it.
Here are five of the key traits I’ve discovered that make a successful small business owner:
Leadership is about that the capacity to guide a group of individuals. It’s also the ability to cultivate a team of people whose opinions and ideas you respect.
I don’t know anyone who has accomplished greatness alone. A successful entrepreneur will have the support staff that will ask the hard questions and give you honest feedback.
The trait that follows cultivating a great team is the ability to look at yourself in a critical and honest way. It takes self-awareness and confidence to listen to other people’s perspectives, know when you’re wrong, and accept the advice of others.
I often say that a mirror is the most important tool an entrepreneur has. That mirror is a combination of introspection – or a group of people you trust to tell it like it is – and the self-confidence to graciously accept that criticism.
The word ‘entrepreneur’ has its origins in the French verb entreprendre, meaning ‘to undertake’. A successful entrepreneur is somebody who does.
Plenty of people have wonderful ideas but without action and initiative, nothing will happen. An entrepreneur is somebody who’s going to act on ideas, advice, and criticism.
Fear not failure, for it is the path to success – if you’re able to learn from those failures, that is. A great entrepreneur doesn’t give up in the face of failure, they reassess and persevere. It was when I did this myself that I realized: I’m made for this.
Not everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur all the time. Throughout his life, my grandfather vacillated between running his own businesses and working for the government. The best entrepreneurs are content with the value their business brings to them.
You have to assess whether your company is still paying you in your personal currency – the value you get from working for yourself instead of someone else. If it is, then you’ve got to take it, own it, and give it 120%.
Thinking about taking the leap to small business ownership? Give us a call to see how we can help: 289-466-5210. Remember, we don’t charge to chat.
Periodic slow downs and lulls in revenue are normal in any business, but clearly seasonal industries have one key advantage: they can prepare for it. The keys to successfully navigating seasonal fluctuations are planning ahead and making use of the lull in activity to put systems in place that will help your grow your business.
Here are five tips for coming out of the off-season bigger and stronger than before:
- Keep in touch with customers.
Don’t fall off your customers’ radar! Use some of that free time to market – or just stay in touch with your customers. By maintaining a relationship with them in the off-season, they’ll be primed and ready to do business with you in the high season.
- Do a ‘year-end’ review.
Companies often hold their year-end reviews to follow the Gregorian calendar – but this doesn’t always make sense for seasonal businesses. For you, it may make more sense to arrange this review at the end of the high season.
Work with your team to understand how well you have done at meeting your business goals during the busy period. Find out where you fell short and put a plan in motion to fix it, whether that’s training employees or solving cash flow problems.
- Look for alternative revenue streams.
If you can’t be flexible with your assets, then it may be time to create new ways of generating revenue. Perhaps you’re a summer ice cream shop that can’t get out of a lease in the winter – consider expanding your offerings as a dessert shop or coffeehouse during this period.
- Develop your sales and staffing plans.
The off-season is a great time to plan for the following year. You’ll have a better idea of the revenue generated and how much money you need to put away to carry the business through the low seasons.
- Take a vacation.
Thou shalt take vacation! There’s no sense in working yourself to death, so take the time to appreciate your accomplishments and spend time with the people who are important to you.
Need help making the most of your off-season? Get in touch with us today (289-466-5210) – we don’t charge to chat!
In my first two years as a business owner, I felt like I had achieved an MBA in everything I didn’t know. It was about as expensive, I learned a lot, and became humbled by all of the things that I had yet to learn.
Based on my experience as a small business owner, here are four things I would have done differently when I was starting out:
- Recognize that my business plan was meant to fail.
When you’re a new business owner, you’re full of excitement as you prepare to take on the world, business plan in hand. The reality is that almost nothing will go to plan.
Think of your business plan as a benchmark instead of something you’re going to follow to the letter. Be open to change, take what the real world is telling you, and adapt accordingly.
- Truly listen to other business owners.
Like any good entrepreneur, I sought advice from people who had done similar things as I was interested in doing. But I could have used more humility when going about it.
I was listening to what they had to say, but mostly to learn what I could do better than them. I wasn’t thinking about what they could teach me about the validity of my business plan. If I could do things over again I would really take note of what they were saying to me.
- Know the customer better.
When you’re starting out, you’ll get companies calling you, pushing their advertising and SEO packages, trying to get you to cast a large net into the ocean of opportunity.
That’s how small businesses lose big money. I would have thought more about my ideal customer so I could choose the best ways of reaching them.
Imagine a stranger walking up to you and saying “Hey, how much money do you make?” It would be awkward, right? That’s why I invest in building relationships instead of increasing my search engine rankings. People prefer to share their finances with a friend and it took some time for me to recognize that.
- Give knowledge away for free.
There is nothing I know that someone couldn’t find out by spending an afternoon on Google. When you share what you know, people recognize and connect with you as someone who has helped them – or could help them in the future.
Your knowledge isn’t the source of commerce – relationships are. It won’t hurt your business to give a little something away for free.
That’s why we don’t charge to chat – give us a call today and find out how we can help you on your path to small business success: 289-466-5210.