In the past six months, B Squared Media has more than doubled in business. But instead of writing a blog post on how awesome we are, I want to talk about how to handle growing pains.
A little dose of #RealTalk: I’ve been in “hustle mode” for about ten months; working 15 to 18-hour days is standard.
The catalyst for pushing me to work harder and plan like I’ve never planned before? After one of our biggest clients claimed bankruptcy in 2014, we started planning an exit strategy for B Squared Media in case we couldn’t make up the lost revenue.
How’s that for real talk?
For more real, no B.S. business talk, I’m going to share with you the four key activities that took us from freaking out (in a bad way) to freaking out (in a good way).
Work-Life Balance Is A Joke
As a small business owner or a solopreneur, it’s rare that you won’t have to make personal sacrifices to have professional successes.
Minus sleep, you need every minute of your 24-hour day. For me, 18 hours is my threshold for not going coo-coo crazy.
Don’t believe me?
“56 percent of small-business owners feel they can never be away from their business.“
[Source: Constant Contact Study]
These stats and my experiences shouldn’t scare you, rather they should help underscore the overwhelm that most/many small business owners are feeling.
So if you put the frou-frou fluffy idea of work-life balance behind, how do you handle growing pains?
Four Ways To Handle Growing Pains
While I can’t tell you how to run your business, I can tell you how I ran mine to grow more than 100% in six months.
1. Time Management & Productivity
Take a real, long, honest look at your daily activities. Where is most of your time being spent?
I used an Excel sheet and a time tracking app (HT pro) to look at my activities over 30 days and was shocked at where much of my time was going.
To be totally cliché, I was working in my business and not on my business; over 50% of my time was being spent on non-revenue generating tasks.
When you’re wearing all the hats, including Business Development and salesperson, you absolutely positively cannot have more than half of your time dedicated to activities that don’t make you money.
The two biggest culprits with productivity are:
- Lack of strategy/disorganization: You need systems and/or processes in place to keep you on track and focused on the key areas of your business.
- Lack of priorities: It may seem obvious, but many entrepreneurs find themselves focusing on non-revenue generating tasks before they think about or deal with sales. That was me! Don’t let that be you!
2. Saying NO (And Meaning It)
You have to do something with all of those non-revenue generating tasks. They may be fun. They may eventually lead to more followers/more blog comments/revenue. But what are they doing for you TODAY?
I hate telling people no. I hate telling people I’m busy. We’ve all come to view busy as a “bad” word that’s just a copout for saying no. But if you’re an entrepreneur like me working 10+ hours a day, 6+ days a week you ARE busy.
I’m done walking on eggshells and worrying about saying no because I’m too busy.
Being busy and saying no helped me double my business in less than a year!
By letting go of hours of non-paid projects, I was able to open myself up to three paid writing gigs.
The writing gigs aren’t what doubled the B Squared business, but they do provide a steady stream of weekly revenue.
My point is this: Make room for the things that make money. The fun, friendly projects can sit on the backburner until you’re comfortable.
3. Things NOT Working? Get NETworking!
You’ve worked to grow your Twitter followers, your LinkedIn connections, your sales pipeline, and your marketing list. But are you putting them to work?!
I wasn’t. So I made a plan to network weekly both on and offline.
I joined a local networking group where I immediately closed a new client and put three others in the pipeline.
Online, I connected with past leads, put four of them back in action in the pipeline, and closed a billion-dollar brand in less than two weeks.
I closed a second “old” lead (he closed nearly a year to the day since our first phone conversation!) and in the process of massaging these old leads moved our closing ratio from 50% to 60%.
I connected with a marketing friend and started helping him launch a new service — something I’m getting paid for.
I had all of these resources in front of me but wasn’t using them.
What resources are you glazing over?
Networking is like a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets. The less you use it, the weaker your business becomes.
4. Stop Being A Control Freak
At a certain point, it doesn’t make sense for you to do your own billing or write your own code, or handle day-to-day activities.
Once steps 1-3 have kicked in and you’re closing those deals, tasks that used to be revenue-generating tasks become less worth your time.
It’s scary. I get that. Pull the trigger too soon and the overhead is killing your bottom line. Go too slow and you risk quality of service because TIME. IS. FINITE.
The new person/people aren’t you, can’t do it as well as you, aren’t as clever as you, aren’t as diligent as you, blah blah blah.
There are a million excuses and only 24 hours in a day. And you have to sleep.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jenn, our CMGR, for two years now. Last week we moved Jenn up to Senior CMGR and added a new CMGR to help Jenn with her workload.
Moving Jenn to full time and adding a team member allows me to focus on my plan, which is to consult, speak, write, teach and bring in new business (ahem, all things that make money!).
Growing Hurts, Period.
Yes, the above four activities are helping us getting a handle on growing pains.
They ensured we’ve gone from “Oh my gosh how on earth are we going to grow and stay in business” pains to “Oh my gosh how on earth are we going to keep up with all of this business” pains.
I don’t know about you, but when it comes to growing pains, I’ll take the latter!
How do you handle growing pains at your business, whether it’s growing in revenue or growing the team to keep up?Business & Finance Articles on Business 2 Community