Growing the one man (or woman) band!

One of the most frequent comments I get from smaller businesses is “How can I grow my business when I am on my own?”  

Most small businesses never get to the next level.  The truth is – this is a mind-set trap, and one that can be broken out of.  It is simple, not easy.  It requires vision, focus and commitment.  The trap is fundamentally a belief of owning a job instead of owning a business. 

It’s a trap because you’re probably already so busy that you don’t feel you have time to grow the business and can’t handle more than you already do. As a sole trader, or small business owner your priority as a business owner is not to grow a successful business. This is self-preservation.  If you try to do that you’ll end up feeling burnt out. 

If your true ambition is to be a business owner and not a job owner, then we have to challenge this thinking.  Your ambition has to be to recruit the people that will grow your business. Then you need to provide leadership, set goals, train and motivate. 

Often when I ask a business owner what their goal is for five years or even one year they don’t have a clear answer. Do you know the answer? Can you articulate it clearly to an employee or someone that could help you achieve it? Do you have it written down? 

Few small businesses have a business plan or even a marketing plan. The reason I’m often told is that it’s not necessary, especially when there are no staff, “why would I write a plan just to read myself, I already know it”. I don’t mean to be unkind but that’s just an excuse and one that will definitely hold back the business! So here’s my advice that, if you follow it, will set you free on the path to growth:

Set yourself a big goal for 3-5 years that scares you and at the same time excites you! (making it exciting means you will feel energised and motivated!)

Here is the important point!  Don’t play small. Don’t forecast where you think you’ll be in 3-5 years if you keep doing what you’re doing and everything continues as it as. That’s not a plan, it’s a forecast and frankly it’s boring. 

Did you take a risk and start your own business just to be bored and to get by? Probably not, otherwise you’d have stuck with the safe route of being an employee, letting the business owner take all the risks... and all the rewards! 

What goal for your business, if you achieved it in 3-5 years, would make you smile and feel really proud? 
  • £1 Million turnover? 
  • £10 Million? 
  • 25 good employees? 
  • A thousand delighted customers? 
  • Four long holidays per year (and the business still there when you got back!)? 
  • Contributing significantly to a charity that matters to you? 
  • Winning a prestigious industry award? 
What life do you want to lead, what legacy will you leave? These might seem like very lofty goals, but those are the ones that are inspiring and make running a business feel worthwhile - why would you aim lower? One more thing to consider when it comes to employing great people - Why would a really great employee work for you? 

Assuming they can take their pick of companies to work for, is your goal inspiring enough that they want to help achieve it? Great employees don’t work for companies that forecast based on ‘all things being even’, they choose companies and leaders that inspire them. 

That’s who you need to be. If this all sounds interesting but you can’t get started - give me a call and we’ll get you moving and achieving the goal too!

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