Starting a business is exhilarating. You’re focused on bringing your big idea to market and every step is a giant stride toward that goal. There’s risk, but it’s confined and controlled.
Scaling a business, on the other hand, brings much more into the picture. More people to manage. More tasks to keep track of. More customers to keep happy. More to lose—and more to win. When you build a business that runs like a well-oiled machine and continues to grow, you have a vehicle for a successful exit through an inside or outside sale. Getting your business to that level, however, requires you to commit to some things that separate CEOs from solopreneurs and corporations from lifestyle businesses, including:
What does business growth look like in the next six to 12 months? How about the next three to five years? Business owners know the importance of strategic planning and yet often neglect it, either because they don’t know where to start or simply don’t want to start when they think of how tedious and time-consuming it is. Your strategic plan is your roadmap to your goals (and eventually, your exit). Without a strategic plan, you’re letting the business takes its own course, which may not be where you want it to go.
You know things need to get done and you can’t be the one to do all of them. That’s why you hire people. Still, you find yourself fielding every question and decision down to the nitty-gritty details. What’s wrong with this picture? For one, you’re defeating the purpose of having hired people since they’re only able to get things done with your assistance. Not only that; you’re adding exponentially more to your plate with each new hire, client and initiative when you’re at the center of it all.
As you’re creating systems and processes for your business, entrust those systems and processes to your employees so you can focus on growing the business. If a process culminates with an action from you, it might not be as scalable in practice as it looks on paper.
For many entrepreneurs, strategic planning and process building are boring. You’d rather be envisioning, innovating or selling. But you have to be present for the aspects that aren’t all that glamorous. Your team needs you in those meetings, and they need you to come prepared to communicate, motivate, empower and lead. Set the example for accountability that you want your team members to uphold at every level in your organization.
Think being present is challenging? Wait until you try being absent. The latter is every bit as important and a delicate balance when it comes to building something bigger than yourself. Buyers want a business that runs smoothly and efficiently without the current owner, especially when the owner exits after the sale. The business needs to be transferable.
When you feel that the pieces and processes are in place, put yourself and your business to the test by taking a one-month vacation (yes, one full month!), completely unplugged (meaning seriously unavailable). The time off will be refreshing, and the results will be telling. See why.
Investing in Growth
Growth is a vague term until you define it for your business. And once you do, you’re more likely to follow through on the steps to get there if you make them mission-critical with budgets to spend, timelines to meet and outside consultants to help.
You have the drive. Now, it all comes down to discipline. Do you have the discipline that it takes to create a scalable and salable business?
By Andrea Steinbrenner, Chief Operations Officer, Exit Consulting Group