Growing Your Business the Right Way
When it comes to growing a business, too often growing results in groaning. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Years ago, I was riding horses in Canada. Now, my wife will tell you that’s when I first said that, “An hour on a horse is like three hours anywhere else.” She loves the equine arts. Me…not so much.
On that ride we met a group of folks that had been out riding for a week (literally, a week on a horse!). Suddenly one of their horses went flying away at full gallop. The rider, an experienced trail guide, fell off the horse, but got his foot stuck in the stirrup. The horse galloped wildly down the trail, pulling the helpless cowboy along. The horse literally ran a quarter of a mile. I thought for sure the cowboy was dead.
Well, he wasn’t. He was just badly bruised and more than a little embarrassed.
Now, this reminds me of some business owners that I know. Having learned the secret of growing their business, they now enjoy the fruits of their success: being dragged along, completely out of control, beaten and dirtied along the way.
If that sounds like a fate that you’d like to avoid, here are a few things to keep in mind as you seek to grow your business:
• Identify Ideal. Get a picture in your mind of exactly what you want your business to do for you. Not what you will do for your business, but what it will do for you. Earning more money – it’s not a terrible goal, it’s just a very incomplete one. What will you do with all that extra money? What “Identifying Ideal” forces you to do is confront what we should all do anyway – define what a good life is and decide how to live it.
• Model Your Mission. Your business has a mission. It may be very small, inspiring to almost no one (such as “make me more money!”). Or it may be a big mission, inspirational to you and your employees, your suppliers and your customers. It’s not enough to have a “mission statement.” Now these can be just so many words. The question is “do you walk your talk?” Do you live out the values that you claim permeate your business? One great (though perhaps painful) way to find out is to hire an outsider to do an anonymous survey of your employees and best customers to find out what they think about you (but watch out for that one).
• Prepare Processes. The secret to successfully expanding almost any business is to identify and codify every task (the big ones and the small ones) someone in your business does. If important processes in your business are in someone else’s head (either yours or a key employee), you’re just one death or disability or departure away from a serious problem. Almost everything you do in your business has some sort of “best practice.” Figure out what that is, write it down and make sure someone can find it when you’re gone.
• Duplicate to delegate. Delegate anything someone else can do 80% as well as you do. The secret to growth is focus. As you shed all those tasks that you thought “only you” could do, you’ll find yourself with energy to pursue your highest priority tasks with the highest return on your time. Try to do as few things as possible, so you can accomplish as much as possible.
• Monitor the money. I’ve got a dentist friend who wrote the following proverb at the top of almost all of his financial reports: “know well the condition of your flocks and pay attention to your herds; for riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations.”
Well, if you don’t have deep accounting and cash flow projection skills, find someone who does and hire them. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking, “There’s money in the bank, we’re fine!” Cash is the oxygen of any business; it only takes a very brief time to be without it to result in death (either physically or fiscally).
A growing business can be a boon to the owner, its employees, other businesses that supply it and, of course, the customers who benefit from its services.
Or it can be an out-of-control force, dragging you where you did not intend to go, inflicting pain and bruises you definitely can live without.
My question to you is “which kind of business will you build – a growing one, or a groaning one?”
Offering you Wisdom on Wealth, I’m Byron Moore.
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