(Originally published July 26, 2017)
Are you preparing to grow your business?
I have memories of wearing shoes which were big for me to church and school. My mother would stuff the front with toilet paper so my feet would not move around too much. It may have been because they couldn’t afford to buy me my own pair with four little girls in the house OR she was smart enough to know what I always seem to forget with my own children. Children have growth spurts at the most inconvenient times and if you live on a tiny island as I do, sometimes options are very limited. They seem to shoot up quickly and go through different shoes sizes in the space of a few months.
The same thing happens in business. You set up shop with the intention of serving clients but somehow you neglected to plan for when there are more clients than you can serve alone. Now you are stressed out from overwork and your clients are frustrated with you because you are not delivering on time. Maybe you have been neck deep in work and when you look up, you’re doing the work of five people and don’t know how to break out of that mode. What if you were to be ill, or wanted to take a holiday, get married or take on a client which required you to travel? What would happen to the regular clients who depend on you?
Here are five strategies to consider as your prepare to grow your business.
Set up the right legal structure
Farmers prepare their plot of land to ensure conditions are right for their crop to grow. Already begun? Then stop and tend to the weeds which are sure to crop up as you grow your business. These weeds can be lack of a legal structure, no contracts, invoices and forms, or not separating your personal finances from the business.
See your business thriving and plan for it
What would it look like if you were to have more clients than you could serve single-handedly? Could it be done by sub-contracting to someone whose work is of the same quality? If a virtual assistant were to take care of the day to day scheduling and social media postings, would that enable you to focus on creating the work that is paying the bills?
Set prices that reflect the service and value you deliver
Could you hire a staff member without having to dramatically increase your rates? Price your business as if it were a full-grown venture. Don’t spend the revenue. Save it for when that employee is hired.
Many entrepreneurs set prices by using their competitors rates as a benchmark and then go lower. Your rates should adequately cover the cost of the time it takes to create and deliver the service, pay staff, and continue your operations.
If there were to be a crisis, do you have a fund to manage this? Read Why You Need a Business Continuity Plan for other issues to consider as you build your business.
Work ON the business and not just IN the business
Especially for creatives, it is difficult to switch between paperwork, meetings and design. Allocate specific days for administrative work such as paying bills and invoicing clients. Do you know what time of day you produce your best work? Make those hours sacred so you can deliver the best products to your clients. Don’t waste your high energy hours standing in line at the bank.
Ask for feedback and use it to improve
It can be hard to see the big picture when you are solely focused on keeping the lights on and the bill collector away. When you are planning to grow your business, you must invite clients and colleagues to give you feedback on your service. You can only get better when you understand what your clients need and over deliver on them every chance you get. When clients are happy and getting results, they become your raving fans.
Success in your business comes from intentional actions repeated consistently and at the highest standard possible. Continue to improve day by day and your business will thrive.
Nerissa Golden writes on entrepreneurship, leveraging technology and media to change lives and communities. Subscribe to the Caribbeanpreneur newsletter for more strategies and events to grow as an entrepreneur. Follow her on LinkedIn to talk about this blog post.