As a small business coach, I love working with overwhelmed business owners doing everything themselves and who are ready to have a life outside of work. Most entrepreneurs come to me with a vision but don't have the time, energy, or clarity to make it happen. This is one reason they seek out a qualified business coach to help them grow.
My clients achieve their goals, but for some, the reality of growing their small business is much different than they imagined. Here's the startling truth. There are several points within the process where you may question your decision to scale. You might even feel an overwhelming need to dial it back or give up. I often help my clients through these stages, and, fortunately, nearly all of them plow through until they feel good about their choices again.
To lessen or avoid the negative emotional impact of scaling your small business, here are a few questions to ask yourself as you create your plan.
1. What do I need to do now to reduce my stress later?
When small business owners are knee-deep in problems, the idea of becoming a true leader who works on the vision instead of the day-to-day operations sounds exciting and fulfilling. Still, you'd be surprised by how often entrepreneurs miss the simplicity of being the business when they initiate a growth model. Some wish they'd never hired employees and taken on more business because it now feels even more overwhelming than when they did it alone. This negative experience of expansion usually comes from poor planning and a skewed vision of the path to success.
It's wise to initiate your progression in phases and have a plan in which your function is clearly and realistically outlined for each process stage. It's also wise to accept that sometimes you'll take two steps forward and one step back. Growth is not a linear process.
To minimize the growth pains, consider these points:
- Avoid making personal or professional travel plans within six months of bringing on new employees. Training takes time. In fact, you're likely to feel more overwhelmed by all the training than you did before hiring help. Don't expect your new people to run the business in your absence until they can perform the job skillfully.
- You'll probably need new business to support payroll but be cautious about how much you add to the workload for at least a few months. Even if your new person or people have the skills to do the job, not all skills translate seamlessly from company to company. They still need plenty of your attention. Don't spread yourself too thin, or you'll resent your choice to build a team.
- Outsource work that doesn't need to be done internally, like bookkeeping, payroll, and freelance labor. Do this before you hire anyone else so you're not bogged down by managing more than one transition at a time.
- If you are offloading tasks to your new hire, begin documenting the steps in writing or doing videos before hiring anyone. Loom.com is an excellent resource for making your training videos. You will still need to provide additional training, but your new person will have documentation to check their work.
2. Am I a great communicator who listens, demonstrates patience, and understands the varying needs of different personality types?
Sometimes entrepreneurs make terrible bosses. There, I said it! If you are a creative, innovative visionary, you'll probably be the worst kind of boss. You don't like boots-on-the-ground activities like hiring, training, and building expansive systems to support your growth. One of the new leaders' most damaging mistakes is neglecting detailed, frequent, and thoughtful communication with their teams.
Never assume that any process is “just common sense” because the knowledge you possess is uncommon. There was a time when you only communicated with clients; now, you'll have more communication points, which creates a greater likelihood of error. Employing others will offer you every opportunity to learn patience and expertly communicate, but you may need a hand.
Hire a business coach who can help you grow your emotional intelligence and communication skills, learn patience, and create realistic expectations of yourself and others.
A conversation with Jack Canfield offered insight about wealthy entrepreneurs that's useful to share with my clients with less wealth. Despite his success and wealth, the Chicken Soup for the Soul co-author still works fourteen-hour days for days and weeks on end. He said that when he's working on a new book or another big project, he locks himself away in his library and has very little contact with others. But then, when he sends that book to his publisher, he's off to Hawaii with his family for an extended vacation. Life returns to a pleasant balance until the next big project comes along.
Life balance is rarely about day-to-day perfection in your schedule. Look at balance as a whole life experience, not a daily part of your life. There will be periods when your personal life goes by the wayside, and there will be times when you experience the bliss of leaving everything behind to spend time doing the things you love outside of work.
Scaling your small business comes with its ups and its downs. Proper planning and an informed outlook will make the downs fewer and more manageable—but there's one last thing. Don't believe you have to do this alone! There are countless resources and people out there to reduce the burden and help you make the best decisions for you.
***Let's chat! We will investigate whether or not I can help you grow your small business with less stress and more success!***