Does your small business look anything like you wanted it to when you first started it? I know many small businesses don't end up where owners thought they would. It's not always a bad thing because often time's things end up better than intended. Many small businesses don't end up operating the way the owner originally intended. Some owners hire consultants to help them get their business where they want it to be. Here are a few things in your small business that may end up differently than you intended.
Your Job Changes As You Grow
When you first start your business you do everything because you have no alternative. Most small businesses start out with the owner being the only employee. Then as you grow you realize you can't do it all and your job changes dramatically. You find yourself handling the day to day operations less and more time working on your business. Changes in role can be difficult for many small business owners because they are used to handling everything. However, if you can't delegate tasks without micromanaging them you will find it difficult to grow your business. Be aware that your role as a small business owner will always be changing as you continue to grow your business.
As your business grows you will definitely undergo different levels of enjoyment. A growing business is going to enjoy some really good times, but also struggle through some really tough circumstances. Running a small business is not going to be roses all of the time. You need to focus on what is important to your business and let the little details go. Remember if you are not enjoying running your business then you are doing something wrong and you need to make some changes.
Many small businesses will eventually want to hire some help. You think to yourself "This will be great. I will pay my employees a fraction of what I bill my clients and the rest will be profits. The best part is I won't have to do anything." Unfortunately this mentality doesn't work. First, of all there will always be something for you to do. Secondly, successfully hiring productive employees may prove more difficult than you think. Hiring and training employees to operate the way you want them to while maintaining profitability and customer satisfaction may be harder than you originally thought. I know small business owners that grew to a level of 15+ employees and gave it all up to go back to a solo operation. Many business owners are not cut out to have employees because they don't know how to get them to operate the way they need them to. As you grow you will most likely need to hire help and that entire situation may not go down the way you thought or intended.
Lots of Non-billable Time
As your business grows you as an owner will have a lot of non-billable time. This goes back to the first point of the change in your role as you grow. You most likely won't spend us much time on the actual operations, but more time on big picture tasks. Unfortunately, there is nobody to bill for those tasks, but it is also critical that they get done. As you grow you will probably spend much more time marketing, selling, handling administrative tasks, and attending meetings than you will in general operations oriented tasks. It is something you need to be prepared for and ok with. If that is not a role that you want to take on then you will have to hire someone to do that for you. As small businesses grow one complaint I often hear is that they no longer do what they love, which is why they started their business in the first place.
Everyone starts their own business for various reasons but certainly income is one reason. When you start your business, earning any income is a good thing. Then as things grow you get to the point where you are pretty busy and you really don't want to or can't take on much more work. Once your hours are maximized so is your income. At that point you are at the crossroads of a decision. Be content with where you are at financially or hire some help and continue to grow.
Both of those situations are risky. If you are content with your current income then you will refuse any new business that comes your way. What happens when one of your current clients stops using your services? How will you replace that income?
The second situation of hiring help and continuing to grow is also risky. We already talked about hiring employees in a previous section. One thing you need to be aware of is that you need to take a step back in order to take two steps forward. When you hire someone your overall profit will decrease, but you should be expecting to earn more in the future. One thing I have noticed about myself and other business owners is that we don't think about ourselves enough. I am mostly concerned with customer and employee happiness but rarely measure my own happiness; especially when it comes to income. Every once in a while it is important to do a check on yourself. Are you making more money now than when you were a solo operation? If so is it worth the added work and stress?
Sometimes your business doesn't look the way you want it to. I have literally watched people grow their business to the point that they had to quit because they hated it so much. Make sure you are constantly assessing your small business to ensure that it is something you are proud of and that you enjoy.
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