Have you ever been to a store or worked with a business owner or a business that seemed to have a “think-small” or “scarcity” mentality. What I mean by that is that there are certain business owners who spend so much energy simply trying to survive that they never get anywhere. It is as though they have a boat with a hole in the bottom and instead of investing in repairing the hole, they focus all of their energies on bailing water out of the boat. What they often miss out on is the fact that even if they don’t immediately have the resources to repair the hole, completely, if they are the only one bailing, there is no one sailing the ship. Many business leaders share this experience. Because of this, most business leaders never get beyond the point where they have a few customers, earn a meager income and are never able to retire. Think about it – if your business never gets beyond you doing most of the work, if something happens to you, the business is done and your revenue is probably flat. Unfortunately, in the real world where there are no Golden Parachutes, matching retirement plans, etc., that means that you are in trouble. Business leader – you’ve got to elevate your game. You’ve got to look beyond what you are doing right now and think about how you are going to build a business that can operate even when you aren’t there. Sure – sounds good in theory, but it requires more than simply putting your nose to the grindstone and trying really hard. You’ve got to think in terms of being able to grow. The foundation for growth is business development. On one hand, you want to try to figure out how to you get more people to buy your stuff. On the other hand, you might look at a group of people or a market and determine what within your capabilities and resources would they purchase from you. Either way – you’ve got to put on your entrepreneurial thinking cap. Just because you’ve built what you’ve built doesn’t mean they will come. In order to hire other people to take over some of the daily operations that keeps your business moving from day to day, you’ve got to be able to teach other people how to do what you do. Surely, one person might not be able to do all of what you do – this is fine. You are probably driven to do what you do. By dividing up the tasks among several people, you will probably find that a) there are parts of the task that YOU weren’t so good that, but overlooked because you were getting the product out to the marketplace and b) they can do the work a whole lot cheaper than you could do it by yourself. How do you do this?
- Know where you are headed. There is no point in making the investment in time and energy if you aren’t sure about where your company is going. Your commitment and vision will help to keep others motivated. Your clear direction ensure that you make the best use of your resources
- Make sure that you have a strategy for increasing your sales and be able to project those sales out several months!
- Bite the bullet! Hiring employees or contractors can be expensive. That means that in order to grow, you might have to cut some expenses for a short time. Think about it – this is like slowing or stopping to put the patch on.
- Write down the steps to get things done. This isn’t an overnight process; you are going to find that when you write your processes and systems down, that you can improve them – become more efficient, less wasteful. You will probably even see where things can be done faster and cheaper than what you are currently producing. If you’ve got the resources, cost out the steps and determine if it would make better sense to outsource some of the non-core activities.
- Decide what level of expertise you need to have in order to continue operating at the level you have been operating at – or would like to operate at.
- Cost it out. For whatever reason, employees like to be paid. Determine how much money you need to have every month or every pay period in order to pay for your employees. You may consider hiring people on pay for performance, commission-based, piece-meal, part time, on call, or simply budget three months of their salary before you even bring them in. This is called no thinking in the silo!
- Plan to leverage your new capability/capacity. Surely – you can keep doing the same old thing. However, in elevating your game, you are going to quickly find that you will be able to take advantage of new opportunities.