The biggest challenge any growth-driven business owner faces… How to scale your business without sacrificing the life you deserve?
“But why do you want to start up and grow your own business”, I asked the eager group of delegates attending my workshop. The room was quickly filled with enthusiastic responses: “Be my own boss”, “Be financially independent”, “Be happier” “Spend more time with my family”.
The contrast could not have been starker. A day earlier, I had been delivering a 1-2-1 coaching session to an experienced business owner in his 50s who was in the middle of a breakdown. Through teary eyes, he told me how the pressures of running his £5 million turnover business, was ruining his health, his family life and his bank balance.
Whilst the business had grown, it relied on him working late nights plus weekends, in order generate a measly profit. All the dreams of financial security were shattered and the latest production crisis left him wondering whether he should just “sell up”. Unfortunately, we both knew that at this particular point in time his business was actually worth very little. He was trapped.
These contrasting scenarios show the reality of what growing a business is like at different stages of the cycle. It is really about two key things – control and freedom. It also highlights the levels a scaling business and the owner must go through to achieve success, in whatever form that means to them.
The 3 stages of scaling a business
“Innocent” business owner
No control. No Freedom
You’ve only recently started up your own business. Every waking hour is filled scrambling around trying to discover a business model that will turn your idea into a sustainable profitable venture. You have an exciting mix of dreams and doubts but you have no freedom. You’re busy in a world of uncertainty, so you have no control. You recognise you’re in a “race against broke”.
“Enslaved” business owner
Control. But no freedom
You’re the owner of a profitable business that works – so long as you are present each day to keep it working. You have people to help but, in essence, the business relies on you. If you stop, the business stops! Sure, you have the control but you also have the long hours and all the responsibility. You don’t own the business, it owns you!
“Free” Business owner
Control and Freedom
You’re the owner of a business that operates profitably and “drama free” without needing your presence every day. The finance, systems and people are in place, so your business’s success is not dependant on you. You are now in a much stronger position to choose to scale the business, take more of a back seat or even sell it. You have the choice to decide what you want to do in order to improve your life and that of the people you care for.
So how do you build a business that can thrive without you?
This may just be the biggest challenge any entrepreneur faces – scaling a business that’s independent of you, the business owner. Clearly there is no magic bullet. It is also something that you must work towards and develop over a number of years but here are a few tips to get you started.
- Stop working harder and start working smarter. Shift your mind set from someone who plays the role of main producer in the business, to someone who is the builder of the business. Start to manage your diary and day-to-day activities with this new mindset.
- The best businesses are both scalable and sellable. From now on, build your Company as if it were to be sold even if you have no intention of cashing out or stepping back anytime soon.
- Clearly map out what growth and success looks like in 3 years time. Be sure to include business measures but also your own personal life goals. Start with the destination in mind (in 3 years time) and work back, in reverse towards his year to, help chunk it down.
- Start to make your business more “systems dependant” not “person (especially you) dependant”. Create and document reliable processes in your business, that produce excellent outputs, without you having to be present.
- Begin building a team with a high performance culture. Let go of the reins a little and empower individuals to take more ownership and have greater accountability for their roles.
- Don’t rule out the fact that your business may need an injection of additional funding to fuel your growth. If this is the case, be clear on what you need it for and how much you need, then speak to a specialist advisor – the earlier the better.
- We know this can be a lonely and challenging journey. Ensure you leverage a trusted coach or mentor to hold you accountable, act as a sounding board and introduce you to trusted contacts who can help make it happen.
Most business owners want growth but they hold themselves back because they fear that, to get that growth, they’ll have to sacrifice their lives. That can happen but only if you let it. It’s your choice. The truth is, that the only way to really grow your business is to reduce its reliance on you. Remember, you own the business, it does not own you!
The Boost Bespoke programme helps established businesses to overcome the barriers to scaling their business – from attracting investment, to entering new markets and increasing productivity. To find out more and apply for support, contact Boost on 0800 488 0057 or complete our contact form.