At a workshop, run by the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, we talked about the different stages you go through when you grow your small business and what each of these mean for us as business owners.
Among the list of things to be aware of when you grow your small business, one thing struck a chord.
It’s one of the biggest hurdles in this process for us, one that quite a few of my clients were experiencing: Handling the transition from running a business to managing a business. So let’s have a look at what that means.
(Also, here’s a good link for you if you’d like to find out more about the different stages of growing your small business.)
Running a business
From the very beginning, you’re running your small business: Delivering high-quality products and services, keeping a healthy cash flow and generating enough new business to keep everything going.
This stage is very hands-on for everyone involved and you’re used to rolling up your sleeves to make your small business idea a success. A growing turnover goes hand in hand with a growing team and, bit by bit, you’re making it work.
But while being busy dealing with the day-to-day tasks that come with running and starting to grow your small business, it’s easy to forget to focus on our goals. And there comes a time when business is no longer about survival but about steering the growth in the right direction.
Setting your goals
That’s why the first thing when you want to grow your small business is to find out what your end game is. It’s a crucial step that helps you to keep on track while preparing your small business for the future.
Ask yourself the following:
- Do you want to sell your company in a few years’ time to start another business?
- Are you looking to grow the business and become a larger company in the future?
- Or are you happy developing and expanding the business on your own?
- How do you define success and what does a successful business look like to you?
Managing a business
Whether you’re overseeing suppliers, freelancers, contractors or staff, it’s vital that you step aside every now and then. Don’t get muddled up in the daily routine of your small business too much; try to see the bigger picture.
To make the step from sole trader to small business manager, you need to take yourself out of the equation occasionally to look at the company with fresh eyes.
This way, you can provide guidance and check if you are on track to achieving your long-term goals, as well as ensuring your short-term goals are still in line with those, too. You can’t do that if you’re busy running your business!
As the business manager, you’ll keep an eye on the market and your competitors, watch your sales figures and respond to new trends. You are the captain that is steering the whole ship towards a safe harbour.
Grow your small business
Being a small business manager doesn’t necessarily mean you have to let others run your business; even as a sole trader, you can easily find the time to review your master plan, see how your company is performing and adjust if necessary.
The best way to do this is to do quarterly reviews:
- Schedule it: Set aside some time at the end of each quarter (I’d advise setting aside extra time towards the end of Q3, as that’s the ideal time for you to plan the year ahead).
- Formalise it: Create categories you want to look at e.g. clients, leads, projects, sales, budget, turnover, profit, overheads, social media marketing and web performance. You could create a spreadsheet and fill it in each quarter.
- Review it: Now have a look at your goals and check if you are on track or if you need to make a few adjustments (ideally to your actions and not to your overall goals)?
- Look ahead: What is planned for the next three months? Do your plans need tweaking based on your review? Update as needed and kick off the next chapter in your company’s journey.
Always keep in mind: You can’t just run your small business in a period of growth, you also have to make sure you manage the business to keep on track.
If you are interested in reading more about this topic, have a look at these:
Set Goals for Your Small Business in 4 Steps
What Does Success Mean to You and Your Small Business?
How to Scale your Marketing when Growing your Small Business
10 Things I’ve Learned by Running My Own Small Business