There are a ton of resources out there for starting a business. What about growing your business? You have some traction and now need support to get to the next level. What do you do now?
One of my frustrations has been around all the workshops, accelerators, and incubators, that are out there. It is hard to know if the content is going to cover just the basics or be at a more “intermediate” or “advanced” level. Below are some general tips to help you figure out where to turn for assistance with growing your business.
As a triathlete, one thing I have noticed is there are 2 sure-fire ways to improve your performance:
1. Working with a coach. They provide specific tips and training plans
2. Running/cycling with someone faster than you (does not quite help in swimming).
Coaches provide specific tips and training plans. And training with others (especially in running and cycling) helps you to improve. As you try to keep up, it helps break some of the mental block in your brain. Suddenly you find that your times are faster without knowing why or how. It is like the second child learning to walk sooner than the first. You pick up on things faster when you do not have to figure it out for yourself.
The same works in business. You can work with a coach. You can also spend time with business owners “faster” than you. That does not just mean they have been in business longer or have more revenue than you (though it can). It means their business is structured and succeeding the way you want yours to be. It could also mean they have the connections you seek.
For example, a retail business is going to face completely different growth challenges
than a consulting business. So a retail business owner should “run” with an already
established retail shop.
When you are around people “faster” than you, you absorb their energy, approach, and expertise. Without realizing it, you will be growing without knowing how or why.
Look outside your industry
Try to look outside of your industry for solutions within your business. A popular example includes surgeons. In order to reduce the number of mistakes happening in the operating room, they adopted a practice pilots use: checklists. Pilots have checklists for everything: inspecting the aircraft before getting in it, take off, landing, inspecting the aircraft after the flight, and everything in between. They have so many checklists, they even have special clipboards that strap to their thigh so they can easily access the checklists during flight. Because a pilot goes through these same actions for every flight, you might think these actions are rote memory, and they probably are. But since safety is paramount, they rely on checklists to double check everything and make sure they do not miss anything.
Once hospitals began implementing checklists for use in operating rooms, the number of bad outcomes for patients declined significantly. What is a practice used in another industry that you could apply to your business?
Earlier this year I shared a story about our billing process. We do not have a minimum hour requirement, so we are not able to sell “packages.” A friend suggested we use a method many utility companies use. They charge a flat rate based on typical usage; you pay less during spike seasons but more during low seasons. This helps smooth out your utility bill. So we decided to test that here, allowing people to pay for a set amount of hours each month while we kept track of how many they went over or under to ensure it smoothed out in the end.
Another example comes from a pedicab company. The owner was sharing their different streams of revenue: individual passengers, advertising on the cabs, and driving for major events. By sharing their different revenue streams, another business owner was inspired to pattern their revenue streams in a similar manner: individual clients, advertising on their site, and corporate clients.
Tap into your community
Recently, we spoke about the importance of having a community. Even if all your business-owner friends are in unrelated industries, there are common issues every business owner faces. Share what you are going through. Their suggestions may not be the answer, but they may show the way to the answer. You will be surprised what comes back when you put something out to the universe.
Keep in mind your community can include your support vendors, such as your bookkeeper, marketing and branding experts, attorney, CPA, etc. They can offer ideas, solutions, and introductions!
For more small business tips and how to navigate the virtual work world, visit our Freedom Makers website.