By George Hedley
Is your business growing and giving you the results you wanted when you first started your entrepreneurial journey? Or are you stuck in the muck and can’t seem to get moving? As small companies begin to grow, they get bogged down, hit challenges, and find roadblocks that hold them back. These include lack of time, energy, money, people, and customers. Many business owners stay paralyzed forever and can’t let go or grow. They feel they have to make every decision and hold tight to the controls.
The typical entrepreneurial progression:
1. Worker – Employee – Manager
2. Small Business Owner Hands-on Controller & Supervisor
3. Entrepreneur – Business Builder & Growing
4. Systemized & Organized Company
5. Company Owner Opportunity Seeker
Before small business owners start their companies, they’re usually competent employees or managers doing a great job for their boss, as shown on Level 1. They’re responsible and accountable, hard workers, and dream about the day they can start their own company. Then it finally happens! They get bitten by the “E” bug (“E” is for Entrepreneur) and make a decision to go into business for themselves. The newly minted entrepreneurs suddenly announce they have quit their jobs to start their own companies. After the initial shock, many ask where this new entrepreneur will find the money to get started, attract customers, hire good employees, and pay the bills. Without fear, the new entrepreneur says: “Don’t worry. I’ll figure it out!”
After the entrepreneur gets infected, he starts his company and steps up to Level 2 as a small business owner. Here he is in charge of every decision and fully in control of every moving part of the company. He supervises every little item, transaction, customer, proposal, invoice, vendor, and employee. He is the business and without him, there is no business.
Bill started his successful manufacturing business seven years ago. It grew quickly to $1 million in sales with fifteen employees. Then it stopped growing and his profits began to shrink. He was stuck at Level 2. When his company was smaller, it was easier for him to act as the ringleader, process the work flow, and meet with customers to keep them happy. But now he had to work harder and harder to keep his company above water.
Bill was frustrated and needed help. While he had managers and key employees, he didn’t delegate much responsibility. He was still approving every estimate, purchase, shipment, order, and personnel move. When he started his company, he had time to find new customers, manage the work, and make sure everything went well. But now that wasn’t happening, and customers were demanding better prices and faster service. Bill was stuck, and his old ways of running the business weren’t working.
Most small business owners get stuck forever.
Most entrepreneurs remain sole practitioners and stay at Level 2 forever. They grow to two men and a truck or to eight employees at one location. And others grow to three managers and twenty employees. But when the company gets to a level where the business owner can’t control everything anymore, it gets stuck and stops growing. They know they need to do something different, let go, hire better people, delegate, install systems, find better customers, improve services, or find more hours in the day. But they don’t know what to do next, get frustrated, and exclaim: “HELP! I can’t get my business to work!”
When you get stuck, you hate to going to work because you have more demands and pressures than you can handle. So what should you do to get unstuck and grow your business?
1. Re-focus on what you want! Stop and remember your original dream of owning a growing and prosperous company that achieves your vision and goals, is organized, profitable, has lots of great customers, is run by your empowered management team, and gives you freedom and time to enjoy your life.
2. Realize you are a business builder! You will never reach your goals if you don’t grow. Are you too busy working to make any money? To grow, you’ve got to let go, delegate, and do what you do best. Growth starts with customers who want what you sell. And you are the best salesperson in your company. You must make time to go out and build relationships with loyal customers plus find new ones.
3. Replace yourself with systems! In order to delegate to your team, you need systems and procedures in place that don’t rely on you dictating and directing every move and decision on every transaction. Put your standards on paper and train your people to follow them. This is how you get beyond YOU as the business. Systems allow you to get out of doing and supervising work, and create time to make building your business the top priority.
4. Hire the best! Now that you know where you are going and have systems in place, you can start to build a strong management team prepared to take your company to the next level. Good people without written systems can’t do a great job without your constant input.
5. Enjoy the ride! With your company organized and growing, you can now focus on creating more opportunities for your business to prosper and grow.
As Bill’s company grew, he learned to delegate more responsibility to his management team. As they stopped relying on Bill to make decisions for them, they started to see the company’s potential, and got excited about their new roles and responsibilities. In order to grow, they next needed to standardize their operational systems. Now with managers in charge, they would have to get everyone trained to do things the same way through specific systems and procedures. As his managers began to install systems, Bill gained more free time to meet with existing and potential customers and look for better ways to serve them. He also began looking for opportunities to expand by offering new services and products. Profits began to rise, his equity and net worth grew, and free time became more available. Bill had gotten out of the muck and his business was working!
To get unstuck, what will you do differently with your time to get your business to deliver exactly what you want? Decide what you’ll do to make this happen, get unstuck, and out of the muck.
George Hedley, CSP, ‘The Business-Builder,’ is a business building expert. He is an entrepreneur, business owner, and the recognized authority on how to build a growing business into a company that consistently produces bottom-line results, profits, wealth and equity. He has authored several books including: “On-Purpose…On-Target!”