Every day, I see coaches, creatives and solopreneurs in the first year or so of their businesses, raring to go, with exactly 1 thing on their minds…
(No not like that. Stay with me, woman!)
They want to grow — very, very quickly.
It feels like every business owner I talk to these days is eager to double, triple or 10X their business as soon as possible, preferably yesterday. Everyone has their focus immediately on these big tempting goals that we see other people going for.
Despite what some “internet gurus” might tell you, there’s no shame with slow, steady, organic growth. Often it’s the most manageable and pleasurable way to run a highly successful business.
That said, there’s no shame in being ambitious. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have my own plans to grow Betty Means Business!
In fact, I’ve been doing a bunch of research into traits of fast growth businesses, and here’s what I’ve learnt:
The reality is that growing a business very quickly can bring a bunch of mighty tricky challenges to the table. In fact, if you’re not prepared, trying to grow your business too fast can be a fast track to shitsville.
Super fast growth in your business isn’t a walk in the park. You’ve got to be ready for it. You need resources, systems, leadership, a bigger team, and of course, buckets of personal commitment in order to grow. Building those things can take time. Real time.
Troy Hazard, author of the book Future-Proofing Your Business, says that if you have a massive growth spurt in your business, it can actually take up to 12 months for things to normalise behind the scenes.
That means for every humble-braggy success story you see on social media, there’s likely a whole lot of stuff behind the scenes that’s being impacted – perhaps the storyteller’s wellbeing, team, systems, cash flow, clients, and the like.
While it’s exciting to think about fast growth and your best case scenario of what that could look like, the reality can be very different.
For a long time, I was dreaming about fast growth in my business, but I wasn’t actually preparing for it. I wasn’t getting ready for it, which meant that it was much less likely to happen.
That’s why this week, I’ve outlined 6 signs your business may be ready to grow that I’m asking myself. Think of them as a quiz you can use to see if you’re ready for the fast growth you’re dreaming of.
BTW if you are dreaming of doubling or more your business in 2018, I recommend 1) thinking through how each of these 7 signs applies to your business, and 2) making moves to ensure you have as many as possible in place now.
Let’s dive in! Here are some things that you really want to think about if you are ready to grow:
#1: Have you got a strong customer base in place?
Having proof that your offering works before you grow is gold. You should know without a doubt that you are attracting customers, you’re able to deliver for them, and that they’re having a good experience with you. Because if what you’re selling doesn’t work? Getting bigger won’t help.
Having a bunch of happy clients under your belt who adore you is fabulous to have, and impossible to grow without. Your existing customer base can offer you powerful case studies, feedback, testimonials – and existing clients are a great place to find future clients!
#2: Do you have a track record of hitting previous goals you’ve set in your business?
Having the proof that you’re able to meet goals that you’ve set, whatever those goals might be (for example, attracting a certain kind of client, a certain number of monthly clients, or having a certain level of income, etc.) is very powerful. Having a history of smashing smaller goals you’ve set for yourself can help give you the confidence that you’re able to set and go after even bigger goals.
#3: Have you got the cash flow growth requires? (This is so important!)
Look, there’s no way around it: so often taking your business to the next level requires investment – and usually more than expected.
In terms of the cash flow, you have to accept that realistically there’s likely to be a gap between investing in your growth and getting results. (for example, having sales catch up to the money you invest in launching a new offer).
Understanding the gap is coming will help you prepare. How will you fill it in? How long will it reasonably take to make your investment back and start seeing results? If everything goes south, do you have a comfortable Plan B in place? That’s really, really important.
#4: Do you have the right systems in place?
By systems, I’m talking about everything from the way that you onboard clients, to the way that you fulfil the services that you provide for clients, to the way that you tally everything you spend and make, etc.
Your responses to these questions will help clarify where you might need new/different systems:
Are the systems I currently have in place scalable to support more clients and growth?
Would my business actually break if I had an extra 10/20/50 clients a month, or a premium service on offer?
Do I have people and systems I trust in place to support me if I need guidance or get overwhelmed?
#5: Where are your current bottlenecks?
I know that right now I’m a bottleneck in my business, in a few different areas where I struggle to let go of control. It happens! Especially when you’re a former solopreneur finally building a team.
So consider where your bottlenecks are.
There might be a bottleneck in your fulfilment process. For example, if it’s only you, there might only be a certain maximum number of clients that you’re able to work with at the moment because, well, there’s only so many hours in the day. Perhaps you have a real bottleneck around creating consistent content, or your existing marketing system. Maybe you don’t have the development support or the design support… hopefully, you get the gist here.
There are many areas where there can be bottlenecks in our business. Identifying them and resolving them is a must if you want to grow your business sustainably.
#6: Is the industry you’re in growing?
Not enough entrepreneurs ask themselves: Is there really space for my business to expand?
If the industry that you’re in is growing, that’s a green light for growth potential. However, if your industry has plateaued, or things are evolving in a different direction? It might be risky to invest everything you have in growing your business as it is.
It’s not that you can’t ever grow in that case, but your approach to growth may need to look a bit different than you expect it to!
I hope you’ve found these 6 signs helpful!
And remember: What you don’t see behind most “overnight success stories” is the years of effort it took to make those businesses, brands, and products great.
So if you ever feel impatient, or a bit left behind?
Just remind yourself:
You’re writing your own “overnight success” story.
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