If you’re following your entrepreneurial dreams, you know how hard it is to grow a business, online or not. You might think improving your skills in marketing is the answer. While you wouldn’t be wrong, it’s not the first step we’d recommend.
The first steps should be planning for growth and getting out of the way. Yes, we said getting out of your own way.
Why do we say that? Because these steps are among the top mistakes made by entrepreneurs. Doing them can actually SLOW the growth of a business.
Growing a business takes planning
Only half of small business owners (49%) have a clear plan for growth, based on the SunTrust Business Pulse Survey (pdf). And of those who do have a plan, only a third (33%) shared it with someone else. In our own experience, less than half of entrepreneurs will have a growth plan.
Compare that to fast-growing companies, which are 1.5 times more likely to have a plan and twice as likely to share it, which helps motivate teams.
Does a plan make that much of a difference? Absolutely.
“Begin with the end in mind.”
To quote Stephen Covey, “Begin with the end in mind.” This is great advice when planning. Start with your end goal and plan how to get there. A plan will keep you on track to reach your goal. Without one, you might not realize you’re off course or growing in a different direction until months or a year later.
Even a simple, 1-page plan is better than having none.
Another common mistake that slows growth
Another top mistake by business owners is getting in the way of their own growth. They do this by trying to do it all and waiting too long to bring in help.
We can’t blame them. Doing it all is part of the entrepreneurial motto, isn’t it? And it’s a hard habit to break.
After all, entrepreneurs are passionate about their businesses. It’s one of the reasons we love working with them. But this tendency to do it all slows growth in a few ways.
Because it’s not just about the time, it’s also about applying your strongest skills where needed and getting help to cover other areas.
Are you stifling your business growth?
All too often, we see entrepreneurs delay getting help to grow their business (and to cover the skill set they might be missing) until later… much later.
We realize why. Cash flow is king. And entrepreneurs walk a fine line between plotting growth and maintaining cash flow every single day.
But they also overestimate the cost needed to bring in help. A contractor like an Online Business Manager (OBM) or a consultant can work within your budget, even if it’s limited.
So by doing it all themselves and delaying help, entrepreneurs can slow and even stifle their growth.
A sad, but common scenario
Let’s say I’m a financial advisor with my own business. I’m good at sales and great at getting client finances in order. Those are my strengths. But I’m not too good at marketing or technology. I depend on my assistant for that and she has enough on her plate.
Like other entrepreneurs, I focus on client work and getting referrals, as it’s my main source of new business. Any marketing or tech issues are handled in spare moments and I don’t bring on any extra help to avoid spending the money.
Then comes a slowdown in business. We’re not talking about a pandemic, it might just be a bad quarter or a big competitor who floods the market with advertising.
My earlier decision to avoid getting help will come back to hit me harder now. Because with less cash flow, my options for promotion are now much more limited. Also, any marketing will take longer to get started and carry out on my own (and under worsening conditions).
How to get out of your own way
In another, better, scenario I would set a plan for growth (let’s say 10% in a year) and share it with my team. I’d then focus on my strengths and supervise, while the plan is carried out by others and brings in ongoing leads.
This is a much better place to be when business slows or your industry sees a downturn.
So how can you ease and even speed up growth for your own business?
Here are some action steps:
- Create a simple growth plan. Here’s a resource.
- Share your plan for team motivation.
- Check your bandwidth & resources. What can be handled in-house vs. by an OBM or contractor?
- Estimate a budget.
- Contact an OBM or consultant to see how they can help while staying within your budget.
Remember, even a limited budget will take you a few steps closer to your goal.
Whether it’s creating a system for your team, kicking off a marketing strategy or launching your website, an OBM can help in various ways—allowing you to focus on your strengths.
Let us know if you’d like help turning this scenario into a reality for your own business.