Money isn’t the only resource in your business, but for most people it is the one that inspires the most stress. If you don’t have your financial situation in order, it can be hard to even consider the other resources you need to manage in your business.
Is your business supporting you financially right now? Is it on track to support you in the future? If you can’t answer that with a definite “yes,” then it’s time to take stock of your business finances.
Know Your Numbers
The first step to effectively managing your business finances is to actually know your numbers. Do you regularly track the income and expenses for your business? Do you create (and stick to) a monthly or quarterly budget?
If you’ve been avoiding your financial reports because you’re afraid of what they might tell you, it’s time to get brave and dig in. If you don’t know the real numbers of your business, you won’t be able to plan for any type of financial goal in the future. If someone else manages your money, that’s fine – but make sure you’re scheduling regular time with that person to review your finances and communicate your goals, so that the two of you are on the same page when it comes to money.
Regulate Your Withdrawals
Do you regularly pay yourself in your business? How do you feel about that system – are you earning what you want to earn as the CEO of your company, or do you wish you could pay yourself more? If you think you aren’t paying yourself, double-check your monthly withdrawals. If you have been regularly taking money out of the business to cover personal expenses or “emergency” situations, then you ARE paying yourself; it’s just that your income isn’t consistent or planned.
Your business absolutely should be paying you an income; if it isn’t, then it’s time to set some goals to get yourself there. On the flip side, your business also needs to take care of itself. Are you able to regularly cover your expenses, both planned and unexpected? If you haven’t had to scramble to cover costs in the last few months, then you have a business that is financially healthy. If, on the other hand, you regularly have unexpected expenses, financial emergencies, or situations where you have to pull from personal savings to cover your business (and vice versa), then your business finances need a little bit more attention.
Fund the Future: Sustain or Scale
On a regular basis, you should be able to cover your regular expenses AND fund your business growth. That might mean that you are able to pay for additional classes, an employee or a contractor to hire into the business, or even just put money into a vacation fund. If you can’t pay for every single thing you’d like to do in your business, that’s perfectly normal; but if you can only cover the absolutely necessary expenses, then you probably need to take some action to grow your business financially in order to allow for more flexibility.
Whether you want to sustain your business as it is, or grow it to a larger scale, your finances need to support that vision. If they don’t, then maybe it’s time to get some help understanding what needs to change, where you can improve, and how to get a firmer grip on your finances. I’d love to have a frank conversation with you about your business finances, and help you get them on track to reach your goals.
Click here to book a session with me – let’s tackle this problem together.
When you first started your business, you were probably the only person working in that business. You had to learn to be the “Jack of All Trades” in order to get your business off the ground and keep it running. This is a solid way to start a business, but at a certain point if you haven’t transitioned out of this situation, your business isn’t going to grow.
It’s time to start thinking of yourself as the CEO of your business, and acting accordingly.
Get Clear on Your Vision
As the CEO of your business, you need a clear vision: a mission statement that details what your business does, who it serves, and where it’s going. If you don’t have a vision, then you’re just treading water, and you aren’t going to gain any momentum.
If it has been a while since you thought about your vision for your business, it may be time to revisit that. Think about what you really want from your business, and actually write down your big-picture vision. Post it somewhere that you will see it often, but also make sure to share it with your team.
Identify the Roles in Your Business
As part of your vision, think about how many roles your business needs to have in order to function properly and keep moving toward your goals. (It’s important to note that a role isn’t the same as a person; for some roles, you may have several people doing them, and for others you may have one person covering several roles.)
If you have been carrying too many of those roles yourself, it’s time to delegate them to someone else. Get clear about what you want out of your role as the CEO, and put everything else on someone else’s To Do list. As the CEO, you should primarily be your business’s leader, its overseer, and its driving force. You should not be your business’s “muscle,” doing every single task that comes through.
Now is also a good time to evaluate whether you have the right people fulfilling the right roles in your business. If not, it may be time to hire some new folks or let others go.
Communicate with Your Team
Once you have a clear vision and a solid idea of the roles that need to be filled, it’s time to make sure that everyone else on your team understands those things as well. You don’t have to have actual employees for this, though one day that should probably be your goal. For now, if you have independent contractors working for you, make sure they understand the vision you have for your company and their role in bringing that vision to life.
Here are some examples:
- Your accountant probably doesn’t need a deep understanding of your full vision, but they do need to know your financial goals so that they can make recommendations to help you reach them.
- Your assistant needs to have a firm grasp on the vision for your company so that they can help you stay true to that vision in the day-to-day tasks of the business.
- If you have more than one person in an assistant-like role, each one needs to understand the breakdown of tasks they are responsible for and who they report to on a daily basis.
- Your ghost writer or content creator needs a clear idea of the big picture so that they can communicate that with every new piece they create for you.
- Your webmaster needs to understand your goals so that they can make sure that your website is optimized to help you reach those goals.
As you look at your business with an objective lens, are you really doing the work of a CEO, or are you still playing around in “Jack of All Trades” territory? If you need some help getting clear on your vision, your team, and the roles your business probably needs to have, click the link below to book a call with me. Sometimes an outside perspective is all you need to get clear and then start taking action to align your business’s reality with your vision for it.
CLICK HERE TO CHAT WITH ME
Once your business reaches a certain level, two things have to happen:
- Get very clear about what you sell.
- Set up a model that is ready for sustainability or scalability, depending on your goals.
Today I’m going to help you do just that! Sitting around thinking about your business isn’t going to get you where you want to go, so it’s time to take action.
Step 1: Get very clear about what you sell.
If you’ve hit a plateau of growth in your business, chances are it’s because you’ve been trying to make your business a custom fit for every client or customer. You change your offerings to suit everyone’s needs, and you’ve probably gotten very good at doing this, which is why people keep hiring you. The problem is that you will have a hard time maintaining that pace, and you will definitely have trouble growing your business, if you keep offering custom tailored solutions for every client.
So it’s time to narrow it down: what do you ACTUALLY sell in your business? What do you provide for your clients that nobody else provides exactly the same way? Out of everything people have paid you to do in the past, what is the strongest offering you have that also aligns most closely with your area of expertise?
In your business, what is it you REALLY want to offer your clients, with consistent quality, every single time? Going forward, that’s your offer.
Want an example?
When I talked to my business advisor about my own offering, we came to the conclusion that what I provide for my clients is accountability. Other coaches and consultants provide big-picture planning, goal-setting, and idea-generating. What I offer is the accountability for you to take the action your business needs so that you can accomplish those big-picture goals and ideas.
Step 2: Set yourself up for sustainability or scalability.
You may be focused on “growing your business,” but have you ever stopped to ask yourself if you really WANT to grow any more? A successful business does not have to mean that it’s always growing larger – a successful business can be one that is sustainable at a certain level indefinitely. Once you know what you want, you can set your business up to be that for you.
One scenario of a successful business could be that you are able to keep going for years, doing what you’ve been doing. You may change or tweak things here or there, but for the most part you keep consistent income, consistent working time & effort, and you provide consistent results for your clients. In a sustainable model, your business runs smoothly and effectively so that you can afford the time, energy, and finances it requires to keep it running at an even level over a desired length of time.
A lot of business owners find comfort in the routine of a sustainable business, and if that’s your goal, then you just have to make sure that what you’re offering for your clients is something you can keep offering for as long as you have your business. If you’re confident that you can maintain the number of hours you’ve been working, the current pace your workday takes on, the financial situation of your business, and the services you’ve been offering your clients, then you are good to go. If any of these areas doesn’t feel sustainable for the long-term, then that’s where you need to put your focus for improvement and streamlining.
Maybe you do actually want to grow your business larger. What you’re earning isn’t enough for you, or you want to serve more people, or have a larger impact on your industry. Whatever the reason, wanting to grow your business is an admirable goal; however, it has to be one that is backed by a solid structure that can support that growth.
Take a look at your business operations. Are there ways that you can scale up your offering? Are you in a position to hire one or more employees to take on some of the workload? Do you see a path toward being able to take on more clients, serve larger groups of people, or increase the price of your offering? Can you take yourself out of some of the day-to-day operations of your business in order to perform more of the CEO duties, and hire others to replace you in those operations? If so, then great! You’re on your way to growing your business. If not, that’s okay, too – at least now you know what you need to work on. Take stock of the areas of your business that are hindering your growth, and focus your energy on streamlining and strengthening those areas.
Step 3: Get help along the way.
Whether you want a business that sustains itself in the long term or scales to a bigger level, it can help to have another person figuring it out with you. As I said before, my specialty is accountability; you already know your big goals, and my job is to help you figure out the action you need to take to reach them, and then also hold you accountable for taking that action. Your business can absolutely be ready to sustain your income or grow it, but you will need to streamline your operations and take the steps toward reaching the level you want for your business. If you’d like some help to do that, I’d love to help you build a business that suits your needs and meets your goals.
Click here to set up a time to talk to me.
Most of us have probably been in a situation where we worked with a group of people, and the project went well or terribly depending on the quality of the group leadership. In your business, whether you’ve got a company of 100, 10, or 1 – YOU are the leader. What’s the quality of that group’s leadership?
Do you think of yourself as a leader? If you’ve got the title of entrepreneur, CEO, or “wearer of all the hats,” you’re leading your company. It doesn’t matter how many people work for you – if you’re not in the regular habit of leading yourself, you won’t be able to lead anyone else, now or in the future.
What steps are you taking to become a better leader in your business? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
Are you prepared for each day?
Do you regularly take time in the morning (or at the close of working time the night before) to prepare for your day? Do you have a list of tasks and one to three goals you want to accomplish each day? Do you know what absolutely must be done, what would be nice to accomplish, and what can be left off the list?
If your answer is NO, then take some time to think and plan at the start of tomorrow’s work day, and every day after that. Give yourself a list of no more than 3 tasks that must be accomplished, and set an intention for how you want that day to go. Establish this as part of your morning routine, and stick with it! You’ll be surprised how much more productive you are throughout the day when you’ve got a clear plan.
Do you regularly seek to improve?
Nobody ever got really good at something if they didn’t regularly strive to improve their skills, and the same holds true for running a business. As the leader of your business, you’ve got to start with improving yourself, and you’ve got to keep up the habit regularly. Read more business blogs or books (and apply the lessons you’re learning!), participate in webinars and online classes, go out and attend conventions or other events. There’s a ton of education available out there to help you get better at whatever you’re trying to improve, from marketing to operations to profit. Pick something and start learning! Put it on your calendar so that you’re setting aside time each week to learn something new.
Do you ask for feedback?
How do you know you’re good at something? Someone tells you! (The same is true for knowing if you’re not so good!). You can give yourself feedback by setting up regular times to review what’s working and what’s not in your business (once a month for a quick review and once a quarter for a longer one is a good rule of thumb). At these same intervals, it’s a good idea to get outside feedback, from employees, contractors, business advisers, consultants, and customers. Create a survey, send a quick email, give them a form to fill out, and ask them what you’re doing well and what could be improved. Then, the all-important next step is to follow up and make changes according to the feedback you receive.
What’s the very next step YOU will take in order to lead yourself toward improving your business?
If you feel like you need to work on improving your skills, we’ve made it easy to incorporate reading more business books (and applying their lessons!) into your routine. Sign up for the Small Biz Book Club and you’ll have the option to read along for free, and get weekly updates to remind you to make the time to improve. Enter your e-mail into the box to get all the details:
Are you spending all your time in the day-to-day tasks of running your business, or do you regularly take time to think about what truly matters to you and plan out your overall mission and vision? If you don’t know where you’re going, or have a plan for how to get there, how do you ever expect to grow?
Do you (and everyone who works with you) know what you’re actually trying to accomplish? Have you ever outlined a “mission and vision” statement for your company?
Get Clear on Your Mission
Mission and vision statements aren’t any good if they’re super vague – there needs to be a clear objective. When you write yours, instead of saying things like “strive to provide excellent customer service,” write out your objectives using specific parameters and terms. Think of this as the way you want to do business, the type of company you want to run, and the type of CEO/owner/leader you want to be. Get very specific, and keep it simple. Otherwise, how will you know when you’ve succeeded?
Plan Your Goals
Once you have identified your bigger mission, it’s time to set goals that will help you achieve it. Something I have kept with me from my adventures in the knitting industry was this nugget of wisdom by Cath Kidson:
Stay true to your idea
Learn to say no,
Don’t confuse a distraction for an opportunity,
Trust your gut,
Don’t be afraid to ask for help,
Stay focused (See reference here.)
Remember as you’re setting your goals to always keep your mission statement in mind. For every opportunity that comes your way, hold it up in the light of your mission statement and make sure it’s a good fit before you go running down that path. Stay on top of your current goal, and focus on one thing at a time, to see real progress.
Test the Theory
It’s time to put your mission statement to the test:
- Could it be anybody’s, or is it distinctly yours?
- Ask your employees (if you have them – or consultant/contractors): what is their ultimate goal for your business? How similar are their answers and how close are they to YOUR answer?
- What would your customers say? If you asked them what your goal is, would they even be able to come close?
Once you have provided honest answers to these questions, you may realize that you need to tweak your mission statement to improve it. The process should constantly evolve as you do and as your business grows, so make a point to revisit it once a year and see if any changes need to be made.
By focusing on what’s most important and regularly reminding yourself of your larger goals, you’ll find you actually get where you wanted to go.
As a female who has been in leadership roles for as long as I can remember, what follows may seem like I am betraying my gender. But I have repeatedly watched these behaviors sabotage potential leaders.
Of course, generalizations are just that, so not all apply to all female leaders and some will apply to male leaders. But most often when I experience these leadership failures, it has been under the leadership of a woman. Do you see your own leadership mistakes in these scenarios?
1. Using emotions as a crutch or a weapon.
Everyone has emotions, and trying to negate them completely is just ridiculous. However, managing them to an appropriate level is necessary in every leadership scenario. If you can’t manage and lead yourself, why would you believe you can do the same for others? The trick is to find a reasonable balance.
2. Prioritizing other things over leadership.
As a leader, you have to ultimately make all decisions with the best interest of the team in mind. This means that sometimes you have to make very hard choices, particularly in terms of self-sacrifice. The most common example? Choosing family issues over other leadership roles. Of course your family is important; but it cannot always take precedent over the team, or the team soon figures out that they are not a priority for you.
3. Waiting to be invited instead of asking.
A leader must be assertive; it is one of the characteristics that is required for the job. Do you find yourself living with the assumption that if you assert yourself they’re going to think you’re bossy (or worse)? The reality is that leadership and bossy-ness are not the same thing, at least not when done correctly. Asking for the opportunity to lead politely and professionally, regardless of your gender (of course assuming your are qualified!), is always the right, first step.
4. Trying to “lead like a man.”
Quality leadership is gender-less. If you examine the behaviors of any truly high-quality male leaders, none of their actions have to be couched in phrases like, “Well, they can get away with that because they are a man.” Every time a male in a leadership role “gets away” with some behavior, a critical review would show it is not an example of good leadership. Our gender and our personality will ultimately determine our style of leadership, but all of the best leadership skills work equally well whether a man or a woman is the one using them.
5. Struggling to say or do the hard parts of leading.
Projects and processes that require leadership will inevitably have ups and downs. Leading when things are going well is never as challenging as when things are falling short. Giving bad news, making difficult choices, and doing the hard thing is where leadership can truly be evaluated. Letting go of our societal norm of needing to be “liked” and/or getting everyone to “agree” is a critical step to successful leadership.
Where do you feel like you struggle or fail as a female leader?