As you grow your small business there are several things that you need to protect. Some things you need to protect are fairly obvious and others you may not realize until it is too late. Small business owners get wrapped up in growing their business because they are so passionate about it. However, if you are not careful to protect the important things as your business grows you may regret having started your business in the first place.
Running your own small business is a lot of work. Quite often funds are tight or non-existent in the startup phase so all the work falls on the founder. Starting a business can put you under a tremendous amount of stress. It may also leave you over worked and tired, both of which can have a toll on your health. It is important to set aside time for yourself to do something that you enjoy outside of work. You also should keep a normal exercise routine. Blocking off time on your work calendar for extracurricular activities will help keep you healthy. My escapes are fishing, skiing and biking. Find what activities work best for you and devote a few hours each week to them. Some of my best business ideas have come to me when I was outside of the office doing something that is unrelated to work.
As your business grows it is important to always make sure that you are generally happy. Obviously things are going to come up that will cause you to be unhappy, but that should only be a temporary feeling. In general you should try to remain happy with your business and the direction it is going. It is important to reflect often on your overall attitude towards your business. If you find that you are not as happy as you once were maybe you made a wrong decision at some point that needs to be corrected. Make sure to keep your business on track so that you are always happy in the long-term.
During growth it is important to protect the relationships you have formed; both business and personal. You don't want to let growth get in the way of maintaining those important relationships that took so long to form. If your business growth interferes with supporting your clients as you normally would then you have a problem. Those clients that are used to getting more attention will notice a change in the level of service and may become unhappy customers. Likewise, it is important to make sure your personal relationships are not affected by your business growth. Don't let your business growth change the relationships with your close friends and family. Find sufficient time for everything so that your business growth does not suffer, but neither do your relationships.
The reputation of your small business may be your single most valuable asset, so it is incredibly important to protect it. So many things can affect your businesses reputation, such as:
- The way you interact and deliver to your clients
- The way you present yourself at networking events
- The way you present yourself online
- The content of your emails to customers and prospects
- How you interact with clients and prospects on the phone and in person
There are many things that affect your reputation so you have to be careful. Your reputation is something that can be tarnished in an instant, so be certain you protect it. My advice is that when you are upset with a client, prospect or an employee, don't respond right away. Take an hour or a day and then get back with them. I think many people blow their reputation when they become reactive to negative situations. Most things that upset you are not that big of a deal in the long-run. Don't let the little things ruin your reputation.
Probably the most obvious thing you need to protect as your business grows is the business itself. Start with a business insurance assessment to make sure your business is properly covered. Then maybe look into some IT help to make sure your business is protected online. Get a good CPA consultation to make sure your business is taking a smart approach to taxes. Don't go through all the hard work of setting up a successful business only to have it stripped away because you failed to protect it properly.
As your business grows don't lose sight of what is truly important and make sure you protect those things. Some business owners work too hard to make their business a success and end up failing because they ruined everything that is truly important. Don't lose sight of where you want your business go and make sure you are critical of yourself and where your business is going. Always make sure you are happy and proud of your business.