Delegate, Focus, and GROW Your Business

Hitting the Wall: What’s the Next Step?

Business owners work towards growing their companies. This might include any number of factors:

  • Growing marketshare
  • Growing revenue
  • Growing the customer base
  • Growing profitability
  • Growing the product line
  • Growing reputation
  • … and other factors.

But at some point, business owners are likely to hit a wall when they discover that they cannot continue to grow in the way that they were growing. For example: Maybe they’ve acquired as many customers as they can realistically serve on their own. Or maybe they have hit some kind of invisible limit in their revenue and they just don’t know how to make more money without working longer hours. Or maybe they have extended their product line as broadly as possible and don’t want to extend it any more for fear of having too much on their plate. No matter what metric you’re using to chart growth, you seem to be hitting a wall and you can’t break through.

If this happens to you, what should you do?

The short answer is: This is a clear sign you need to think about hiring someone else. If you’re running a business on your own, there can be a big question mark around when to add someone else to your team and this is the time when you need to think about doing that.

But there’s a long answer, too. It might be time to re-think how you want to grow and it might be time to decide what your vision is for your business. If you want to grow in some ways, hiring specific staff will bring you there. If you want to grow in other ways, then it’s time to think about other types of product lines. Here is a fictional case study with different endings to illustrate:

Mary runs a small e-commerce site selling hand-painted decorations. Her website has been pulling in good traffic and she has found some great sources to get customers. Now, she spends some of her day doing administrative work, some of her day marketing, and most of her day is spent creating these hand-painted decorations. Mary has hit the proverbial wall, mentioned above, and is now thinking about what’s next for her business.

OPTION 1. Mary decides that she likes the painting part of her business and wants to continue doing that, but she wants to get rid of the rest. So, she hires a virtual assistant to take care of the administrative work, some of the marketing, and some of the customer management. This frees her up to hand-paint more decorations.

OPTION 2. Mary decides that the painting part is enjoyable but she ultimately wants a bigger business. So, she hires a virtual assistant to take care of the administrative work, and she hires someone who she can train to take care of the hand-painting. Then, in the short term, she does some hand-painting of the decorations but she starts to focus on the marketing side of her work. She gives most of the hand-painting to the painter (and does a bit herself to handle the overflow with an eventual eye toward hiring a second painter).

OPTION 3. Mary likes the money! She enjoys what she does, of course, but would enjoy retiring early even more! So, she focuses on building profitability. She revisits her suppliers to see if she can negotiate lower prices for bulk orders. She examines her systems and processes to make herself more efficient. She improves service to enhance customer loyalty. She raises her prices to increase revenue. She looks to broaden her offering to include some higher-profit items like an ebook on how to decorate with all hangings or a paid subscription to a webinar series on how to start a hand-painted decoration business.

There are other options, of course, but these three nicely illustrate what is next for Mary.

For Mary, and for you, it starts with asking yourself what you truly want with your business. Maybe you want to grow but you don’t want to have someone else doing to revenue-generating work that you love to do. That’s okay. As soon as you know that, you can figure out what the next step is to take.

photo credit:  Joe Shlabotnik

Posted on June 15th, 2011 by Rachel Braam, Office Manager

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