Starting, building and growing a business is a constant journey of personal and professional growth – they go hand in hand. Everyone will have a different experience of the highs and lows of being a business owner. Different goals, different challenges, different achievements.
But here is a truth common to all business journeys – at some point, the biggest limitation to your business growth will be yourself. At some point, your business will be ready to shift up a gear, but your mindset, confidence or your capacity will be holding you back.
And that is completely natural. Scaling up is scary. Letting go and trusting others is hard. Letting go and trusting yourself can be harder.
But honestly, you simply can’t do it all on your own. You might have built a strong client base, but that leaves you no time or energy to work on your business. You might be struggling to prioritise commitments outside of work. You might be feeling stressed and tired and sometimes a little bit narky until the caffeine kicks in (I mean, who wouldn’t be!). You might even start resenting your business or your clients because they just demand so much of you. By this stage, you need to come up for air.
This is not sustainable – for you or your business.
Reaching a point where you have the opportunity to scale your business should be exciting and fulfilling, not stressful and overwhelming. But you’re right, it does mean letting go of control. It does mean getting help. It does mean investing in building a team to support you – and trusting them to have your business’ best interests at heart.
That can feel like a really big leap to take.
So, how do you move forward? Firstly, I recommend you take a step back and get really clear on what you need help with. Once you know this, you can start looking at the best solutions. And you will be better equipped to ask the right questions when chatting with potential service providers. Because essentially it all comes down to surrounding yourself with a team of people that are going to be invested in the success of you and your business.
In my experience, challenges related to moving up that next level usually fall into one of these areas:
Nailing your business foundations
Before scaling up your business, it is worthwhile taking a close look at the core elements of your business to assess whether they need to change to support the next stage of growth. You might need to take a closer look at your service offerings to identify opportunities to add premium services or maybe productise your services to create passive income streams. You might need to revisit your branding to check it is aligned with your business vision and ideal clients. Is your website and social media profiles working to bring you the right kind of traffic and connections?
The last thing you want to be doing is trying to build a bigger, stronger business on shaky foundations. Clarity is critical. It is worth the effort pausing to reflect on where there might be gaps that need your attention before you can move forward. And then you might need to invest in outsourcing the work to fill those gaps, using specialists who can deliver exactly what you need while you protect your time for other priorities.
Managing your time
I haven’t met too many business owners who feel like they have got time management under control – let’s be honest here, juggling a business on your own is no walk in the park! Business ownership and lack of time to do ‘all the things’ seem to be constant companions. And while there may not be a silver bullet that magically gifts you all the time you could ever need, there are small steps and tweaks you can make to take some control back.
What will work for you is going to be unique to your specific time management needs and habits – good and bad. You might need to experiment with a few options before you find the one that fits. But most importantly you need self-awareness about your current time management habits and challenges and you need to make a commitment to yourself to do things differently.
Streamlining your Systems and Processes
Let’s be honest, you can’t scale up your business while relying on time intensive manual processes and systems. Scale requires a streamlined, automated, and efficient systems and processes. There are so many possibilities and options for streamlining across accounting, marketing, admin, staffing and even your client experience. The main aim of the streamlining game is to ensure your business is functioning at its highest capacity.
Streamlining takes time, and investment, but you don’t have to tackle every process at once. You can pinpoint the areas of your business systems and processes that would benefit most from an assessment. Maybe it is the process that takes you the most time, or that you hate the most and always put off. Or it could the process that would make things much easier for your clients. Streamlining is your gateway to next level growth.
Lack of accountability is one of the biggest challenges for business owners trying to scale their business. Client work and servicing customers always takes priority because there are very real consequences associated with missing deadlines or delivering a poor experience.
But when it comes to ticking off your internal business development tasks, it can be very easy to drop them to the bottom of the list because it feels like there are no immediate consequences. But long term there are very significant consequences – because you are limiting your business growth.
So how can we be more accountable to our business growth goals? Get an accountability partner, work with an Online Business Manager, use technology to prompt you into action. Either way you do it, intentionally introducing external accountability into your business development is essential to taking your business to the next level.
Getting into the right headspace
There is so much involved in the mindset piece. But when we look specifically at growth phases there is one aspect of mindset that I see as key. And that is to embrace stepping outside your comfort zone. Anyone can start a business and have a decent crack for a few years. But the ones who succeed in moving to the next phase are those who are willing to evolve – evolve their products and services, evolve their marketing, their operations and…evolve themselves. Stepping outside your comfort zone is where the most significant growth – personally and professionally – happens.
Beyond this there are a bunch of other mindset areas you might also need to tackle – money mindset, imposter syndrome, limiting beliefs…take some time out to reflect on your path so far, your strengths and gaps, and figure out what might be most worthwhile for you to work on the context of wanting to take your business to the next level.
Building your team
As an Online Business Manager (OBM), I am obviously a big fan of using outsourcing to help you move into the next stage of business growth. It is my job to support you in achieving your business goals. And trust is a big part of the relationship. It pays to work with someone who has a proven track record in helping business owners like you achieve similar goals to yours.
Likewise, if you decide to hire staff it can be challenging to find staff with the right skillset, work ethic and values that fir your business, brand and personality. The more work you can do upfront to be clear about who you are looking for, the greater the chances of finding them.
Relationships all come down to trust, so you need to build a team of people around you (whether they be service providers, staff, contractors or other relationships) who you feel confident entrusting with your business baby. Building in processes to assess how these relationships are working and encouraging two-way feedback is critical.
What new level do you want to reach this year? What kind of team are you going to build around you to help you get there?
If you think an OBM could be just the team member you are looking for, then get in touch and let’s have a chat about how I can help.