by Gwen Bortner | Operations, Tips & Tricks
There’s a reason we have the term “growing pains” in our collective vocabulary: growth can be painful! In your business, the periods that are the most stressful and overwhelming are usually also the periods where you experience the greatest growth and forward momentum. That’s why it’s even more important to have a clear strategy during those times, so that you can focus on one step at a time, keep your wits about you, and power through the painful period in order to come out victorious on the other side.
Though there are several reasons you might be experiencing growing pains in your business, in my work with entrepreneurs I’ve found that there is some common ground here. If you’ve experienced painful growth in these areas, know that you are not alone! This is an experience shared by almost everyone who has ever tried to run a business.
4 Ways Growth Can be Painful in Your Business
1- Hiring Your Team
When you hire another person in your business, the sense of overwhelm usually comes down to two factors: finances and operations. Whether it’s your first hire or your 15th, expanding your team can absolutely cause some growing pains in these areas.
- Finances: You may never feel like you’re “earning enough” in your business to pay someone else, but when most entrepreneurs get to the point of needing to hire someone else, it’s because they have simply hit a plateau. They cannot earn more money on their own, because they just can’t take on any additional workload. Hiring someone else—and paying them for that work—is often a financial hit at the beginning. Soon, however, you realize that by paying that person to take on some of your workload, you’ve freed yourself up to move to the next income level as a result. This is true of every new hire, so you should expect a little bit of financial strain each time, but it should resolve itself shortly.
- Operations: There’s a learning curve at the beginning of the hiring process every time. The new person needs to learn the steps and skills of their duties, but you also need to learn how to explain those steps and skills to another person. If you’ve been doing the work yourself, chances are you haven’t written out an onboarding process for that, because you just knew what to do all along. Now you’re going to have to invest some time up front to train your new hire; but once you’ve done that, having them take over that work is going to save you significant time in the future.
Hiring a new team member is painful because it requires an up-front investment of time and money, without an immediate return on that investment. However, if you’re playing the long game toward sustainable growth, this investment is absolutely worth it.
2- Unexpected Growth
Sometimes, growth just sneaks up on us out of nowhere. You may find yourself mentioned by a key influencer on social media, or your clients have all decided to refer new business your way at the same time, or perhaps you’ve just gained enough traction that you’re starting to see the natural momentum in your business increase.
Whatever the source of your unexpected growth, it can feel like one day you were just cruising along at ground level, and the next you’re expected to know how to fly at top speeds. It will take some time to reorganize your systems around this growth, and to make a plan for how to address it in the long-term. Having a reliable, repeatable procedure for tackling goals and To Dos is key to riding the waves of unexpected growth in your business.
3- An Influx of Clients
Remember a few months ago, when you were hoping you could round out your client roster a little more fully? Now, all of a sudden, you have more clients than you know how to manage! It can feel like this type of growth comes in surges, and often we don’t realize our maximum capacity for handling client work until we reach that capacity.
If you’re at this point, you have a few different options available to you:
- End your relationship with any clients who are not an ideal fit, in order to make space for new clients who are more aligned with the type of work you want to do or the type of working relationship you want with your clients.
- Hire new contractors or employees to help you manage the workload
- Raise your prices so that you can afford to work with fewer clients; those who aren’t able to retain your services at that price point will naturally fall off, and the ones who remain will allow you to work less but earn the same or more income.
While an unexpected influx of new clients can throw you for a loop at the start, it often provides an opportunity to shift or pivot your business to a point where you are earning more income or doing the type of work that is more in line with your desired workday.
4- A Significant Life Change
You may be a business owner, but you’re also a human being, and that means that occasionally the changes in your personal life are going to affect your business. Some of these life changes may include:
- Divorce, marriage, or new romantic partnership
- Becoming an “empty nester” for the first time
- Having a child
- Retirement for you or your spouse
- Moving or beginning life as a digital nomad
Having a system in place that you follow regularly in your business can mean that you are ready when these life changes arise. You can make a plan to give yourself time to transition through the change, to re-evaluate your goals, and move forward with your new life status and your business.
No matter the scenario, early preparation is the key for navigating unexpected changes in your life and business so that you can reduce the amount of overwhelm you feel in the moment and keep moving forward with a clear plan. If you’d like to be prepared for whatever life and business throw your way, I invite you to join me in my workshop, “3 Strategies to Minimize Overwhelm, Reduce Stress, & Produce Results that Matter.” We’ll work together to set you up with a system that you can follow any time your business gets overwhelming, so that you can get back to work and back on track to reach your goals.
Register now to join me for the workshop, happening September 9th from10:30 AM TO NOON PT.
I look forward to seeing you there!
by Gwen Bortner | Leadership
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.
I would love to be the person to help you find your way. Click here to set up a time to talk.
by Gwen Bortner | Leadership, Tasks & Goals
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.