4 Ways to Take Your Business to the Next Level… Starting TODAY!
The word “Growth” evokes a lot of emotions: exciting, scary, intense, risky and CHANGE. Being a business owner is a lot like being a first-time parent watching your baby grow. The exception is the ‘baby’ is YOUR business. Think back to the start-up days. You are an expert in at least one major area. You know others need your expertise/product and it makes sense to create a resource for others looking for your solution. Other than knowing your expertise, you probably don’t understand EVERYTHING you need to know about a business. You put in the research, you humble yourself to ask elementary questions and you may even lose some sleep over “how” to get things done. But you make it…to the toddler years – So first let’s pause a moment to celebrate the first milestone of your growing business from infancy to toddler-hood. This means you grow through some major hurdles. But it also means you don’t feel stable to even walk yet, much less run. So, first time parents – how are you feeling?
I spent the last decade in management and entrepreneurship. These following tips have evolved from learning best practices and growing through difficult times. Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. I still have cycles of being invincible to Imposter Syndrome. And yes, they can go from one side of the spectrum to the other in the same hour.
If you find yourself very energetic and knowing everything there is to know about your business you can stop reading now. However, If you find yourself already tired and just the thought of keeping up with a toddler (just learning to walk) exhaust you, then listen up, these tips are for you!
1. Write it Down: The Everyday Procedures!
Since we are relating business ownership to parenthood, I started thinking about one of the first things I remember learning. I am sure I learned copious amounts of knowledge in my formative years, but I think age four I learned my first multi-step process. In fact, I still use the same multi-step process everyday: tying my shoes. I have been doing this for so long, I don’t even think twice about tying my shoes (unless it has to do with actually reaching my feet). Today, I can tie them with my eyes closed or completely by feel. But when I was four and beginning to learn this life long skill, I would watch a grown up make the captivating bow. The grown up would then say ‘your turn’. I thought it looked easy but after twisting and tangling my laces using my own hands, I realized tying the shoe was much harder than it looked. I practiced for days and even weeks trying to perfect the fascinating bow that EVERYONE seems to wear on their feet. Then something life changing happened. I was introduced to the bunny ear poem. The bunny ear poem took the steps I learned, broke it down into small bite size pieces and gave me something I could say to do the steps in chronological order. This simple poem allowed me to tie my shoes perfectly every.single.time. Did I still have to practice? Of course! And the more I practiced the faster and more efficient I became.
So lets transfer the shoe tying exercise to business. Think of a task you do now with your eyes closed. Those thoughts are tasks that need a process – a bunny ear poem. As you grow, you want others to be able to learn the task and nail it every.single.time. Just like tying your shoe, you want the task done the same way – no matter who is tying the shoe.
If you are a solopreneur most likely ALL your processes are all your head. Very rarely do we write down “how to do something” in our business. As you write your procedure you are building a standard operating process also known as a SOP. These SOP’s will be the foundation of your company’s instruction manual. Creating your instruction manual is a great first step to growing your business! Procedures are SUPER helpful to creating a workflow. Once procedures and workflows are in place, then we look at how to automate procedures and/or train others how to do them the way YOU want them done.
A helpful tip: Anytime you can add a video SHOWING the procedure, especially if a computer task – DO IT! Use a tool such as loom to record your screen and voice. Add it to the written procedure and you have gold.
2. Find Experts: Then Outsource Some Task
I heard some of you gasp! So hang with me for a minute. I know your business is your pride and joy. I am NOT suggesting you wrap your business in a pretty bow and hand it to someone and say ‘You run it’. DON”T DO THIS! However, in order for you to scale your business and take it to the next level, there are some ways you can outsource – responsibly.
Find an expert for the daily operations. YOU have a zone of genius. That is WHY you are in business. The day to day stuff – while it is imperative to your business, it is not important that YOU do it. Any time you are doing things that are not adding to your revenue, you are taking away from your value. Do you know your hourly yield worth? If not, grab a pen and paper and figure it right now. Here is a simple formula:
Target annual income divided by (number of weeks per year you want to work multiplied by the number of hours per week you want to work)
Let’s put some number to the formula: Let’s say your target annual income is $500,000
You want to work 45 weeks per year and you want to work 30 hours per week.
$500,000 / (45*30) = X
$500,000 / 1350 = $370 per hour
Most of my clients are speechless when they learn their hourly yield. It helps them justify hiring experts. That’s right – not help but experts. Let’s assume an expert will cost you $75 per hour based on the above example. This means if you decide to do the task yourself, it will cost you almost 5 times more and chances are the task will take you longer than the expert – We didn’t even factor in the efficiency rate. Hiring an expert will allow you to work on bringing additional revenue to your bottom line. Another way to explain it: Would you rather spend $370 per hour to manage day to day operations, projects and your team? or do you want to spend $75/per hour to hire an expert to run your daily operations just as efficiently (if not better) than you can?
3. Measure Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) –
If you are from the southeast region you know we like to keep things simple. A regional saying (with a twang accent) goes – “Inspect what you Expect” – While the saying is short and sweet it packs a powerful punch. Identifying your top important metrics in your business gives an unconscious message to yourself and to your team “this information is important to me”. But having metrics is much bigger than that. Metrics also known as ‘Key Performance Indicators’ (KPI) are vital so you can make sound business decisions. Decisions such as when to hire your next expert because you have too much for what your team can produce. Another KPI maybe projecting when you expect a surge of cash – or a need of cash. It is nice to know that you can pinpoint your business needs just by watching metrics you have established. . Fun fact: your banker will be impressed! So many small business owners don’t know the importance of KPI’s. Word of caution, don’t start out trying to measure everything in your business. Start slow and you will eventually determine the top few that are important to you.
4. Invest in Yourself and your Business: Find a Coach
I played sports in high school and found out very quickly that a coach can make or break a team. The right coach can take a good team and foster a great team. The wrong coach can destroy a good team’s mindset and create unnecessary struggles which are highlighted during competition/games. When I became an entrepreneur I started hearing about ‘business coaching’. Since starting out, I have met MANY business coaches and the same concept holds true as it did in my experience as an athlete. There are some good business coaches and there are GREAT ones.
If you have never had an amazing business coach experience, you may be thinking “what exactly does a business coach do?” Every coach you talk to will give you their specific answer of what they do and how they can help. My generic definition of a business coach is: an expert that can help you clarify your business vision. Then you work together to set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based) goals to get you from where you are in your business to where you want to go. The coach helps you create an action based plan and then holds you accountable.
To find the right coach for you, I suggest interviewing at least 3 business coaches – Bonus points if you find a coach that has your industry experience. Remember they are interviewing you too. They are looking to see if you are a good fit for them as well. So some questions you may want to consider for your prospective coach: ‘Have you ever worked with a business like mine? How do you measure success (with your coaching clients), Based on our conversation what does your coaching plan look like? How long do you think we will be working together? Have you ever had a client that was not successful? Why do you think they were not successful?
Keep in mind that everyone may not know the answers to what you’re asking, but take note of how they respond. Are they straight forward with you or are they trying to impress you with their knowledge? Remember you are interviewing a coach to take your business to the next level. So you are looking for someone who is a straight shooter, not someone who tells you what you want to hear.
If you are ready to grow your business and take it to the next level you can start today! The first step is writing down what you are doing! If you are overwhelmed, feeling stuck or simply do not have time, I would love to hear from you. Let’s connect to see exactly where you are and where you want to go! Maybe you already know you need an expert to help you with processes, finding your KPI’s or an overall business coach- if so, Email me HERE! As an Online Business Manager, I can either support your needs or point you in the right direction. Cheers to a growing, successful year!