So, you’re a dream catcher. You started your own business because you want to work for yourself and make your own rules. You want the American Dream. Not the one where you drone on under stress and pressure at some corporation filled with politics and hogwash. No. You want to build something with your hands and bring your vision to life. You want to do what you love and make a great income while doing it. You dedicate yourself to achieving happiness through the success of your business, so you pour your everything into it. You are pleased to find that your passion is enough to get your business up and running.
Time goes by, and you maintain, but despite giving your business every single resource you can gather, you are still only managing to survive. You are keeping the lights on and paying your employees, but that’s about it. You haven’t taken your dream vacation. You're not prepared for the next phase of your life. You feel stuck on sprint!
There are several phases in the life of your business. Three of the stages that are most familiar to small business owners are existence, survival, and success. During the existence phase, you are just getting started. You have limited resources, few clients if any, and the only reason why people know you’re in business is because you handed them a business card. Survival is when the business grows to the point that the operational expenses are covered. The business also has money for maintenance and maybe even small investments in equipment. Most “mom and pop,” businesses live and die in the survival phase. You may even be in the survival phase now. Finally, success. Success is where every business owner wants to be at some point. When a business enters the success phase, they are generating enough profit to make significant investments back into the company. They can decide if they want to expand or introduce new products. This is the springboard to becoming a major corporation. Many small businesses don’t make it this far, but here are three tips to ensuring you don’t get stuck in the survival phase:
1. Systemize and professionalize your services. One way to ensure you can replicate your success is to create well document systems that can be executed by others. On a small scale, that may mean every customer gets the same excellent service. On a larger scale, that may mean you have a successful business model that can quickly adapt to new markets.
2. Manage the human factor. Every employee you hire is a business investment that can increase in value. Set your employees up for success by providing a structured business environment where they feel safe and productive.
3. Sell like crazy. Driving sales is the single most important thing a business can do to reach success more quickly. However, an organization’s ability to generate sales is directly related to managing the human factor. Every business owner should focus on their people: employees, customers, and competitors.
Being in the survival phase of business ownership is something to be proud of, but why stop there when you can achieve the freedom you sought after when you opened your doors. Success is within your reach when you decide to take the next step.