Most business philosophy dictates that businesses must grow to survive. “Grow or die!” the business magazines shout. And this idea has merit: you don’t want a stagnant business. But there are many ways to grow your business, and before you dip your toe into any of them (or before you get carried away by the wave of growth that may already be hitting your business right now) it’s a good idea to step back and think about your business goals.
Ask yourself these 5 questions to determine if you’re ready for business growth:
1. What do I want from my business?
Did you begin your business to fill a need in the market? To increase your income? To have a flexible work schedule for yourself? Are you growing your business for higher income? Trying to establish a foothold in an industry? Building a business to sell or leave to family members? It’s important to know why you started your business, and what you want from it, because these answers will determine your route to growth.
2. What am I willing to do to grow my business?
Growing a business will likely involve a higher investment of money and time than you’ve been putting in up until now. Everyone has a different level of risk tolerance–will you be willing to take out a loan or bring in a silent partner to fund your business growth? Will you be willing to put in more hours, or hire more employees? Are you considering an acquisition, like our client, Julie Murphy of Designer Draperies of Boston?
3. Is my business growing into areas I want to expand?
Sometimes a business grows because the industry changes. For example, the communications company we work with, 3am Writers, began as a copyediting/copywriting firm and expanded into social media when the market demanded it. Look at how your industry is evolving–are you eager to hop on new trends, or do you need to shore up your core offering and stick with it, promoting it to new clients? Only you can decide which route will bring you the most success and satisfaction.
4. Will I be happy letting go of control of certain aspects of my business?
Most businesses, especially service businesses, hit a plateau because the business depends on the boss. You’re only one person, so expansion will take its toll if you don’t hire additional staff. But for many small business owners, that means letting go of certain aspects of the business that you’ve been controlling all these years. You might think to yourself, “Hallelujah! I’m ready to let someone else take the reins and do some of the work.” But do you have the systems in place for you to start delegating? (Hint: if your answer to this question is “What systems?” then you aren’t ready. Time for a consult with Ten Key, Inc.) The key to letting go is systematize and step away.
5. Do I have the right team in place?
This is a great time to talk with your financial team , so you can see who’s got the experience you need for your next steps in growth. It’s also important to evaluate your company team: your staff. Do roles need to be redefined or shifted? Is more training necessary? Do you think you need to–gulp–let some employees go and hire new people? These are big decisions, but if you have the right people in place, growth becomes much, much easier. (While you’re at it, talk to the team at home: your family. Share your goals and get them on board so you have plenty of support when you need it.)
All businesses must grow to survive, but you can’t truly explode with growth…unless you embrace it. So answer these questions for yourself, trust your instincts, and get ready to GROW! And remember, we at Ten Key, Inc., are always here to support your business goals and help you grow in the way that works best for you and your business.