Tom

Business Growth

9 posts in this topic

I've been running my business for about 2 and 1/2 years. For the first 2 years, it has been difficult to maintain steady sales. I am in a service industry that is half marketing consulting--so it was tough to get clients. However, after putting in the effort I was able to generate enough impressive real world results, the last 1/2 has been chaotic. I have not made any effort for advertising or marketing of any kind--and I get emails and calls nearly daily with willing potential clients. Which is great, especially after the last two years of getting turned down and responding to RFPs all the time. However, I'm starting to disappoint potential clients with my limited productive capacities (I can only handle about 4 projects at a time before I hit physical and mental limits) and thus some clients are on a wait list or simply turned down.

Since my knowledge and abilities are on sale, that's what I'd like to concentrate on. Time spent on bookkeeping, project management, tasks secondary in importance (drafting copywriting, agreement writing, and so on), etc--are inflicting damage. Not to mention that the last two years didn't help me any with developing the skills necessary to efficiently plan multiple large projects or the number of invoices I have to send out and other management tasks. I don't have the time, either, to develop and execute my own marketing strategy--I haven't updated my portfolio...which is ok for now, it would only attract more buyers.

So, while I'm working on stabilizing this workload and on my management skills, I also need to learn about how to manage growth. If I had a second employee to help me with primary and secondary tasks, a project manager, and an accountant--so much more could be accomplished. The financial aspect of getting a full time staff is feasible, either from my own sales or from external investors, but I just don't know how to go about manging growth in general.

Would anyone here happen to have any advice, guidance, or literature recommendations? I would appreciate it :)

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From a trader's perspective, if your skills are in excessive demand you are charging too little. Increase prices and use te exta to cover admin charges...

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The book "The 4hr workweek" has plenty of tips and tricks to outsource part of your day-to-day chores.

Consulting is traditionally difficult to scale.

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Since my knowledge and abilities are on sale, that's what I'd like to concentrate on.

Time spent on bookkeeping, project management, tasks secondary in importance (drafting copywriting, agreement writing, and so on), etc--are inflicting damage.

If I had a second employee to help me with primary and secondary tasks, a project manager, and an accountant--so much more could be accomplished.

Delegating tasks which do not need to be done by you directly to an employee would be my first advice.

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From a trader's perspective, if your skills are in excessive demand you are charging too little. Increase prices and use te exta to cover admin charges...

In specialized consulting work it may not be that simple. At some level it is true, but you have to be careful of how sensitive the market is to price. You might raise prices by what you think is a small amount and suddenly find it dry up because there are factors you don' t know about. Assessing this requires understanding the whole business and competitors, not just your own work.

There is also an advantage to being under-priced to some degree. This isn't a homogeneous market. It is to your advantage to have enough potential business that you can choose which jobs you want.

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Since my knowledge and abilities are on sale, that's what I'd like to concentrate on.

Time spent on bookkeeping, project management, tasks secondary in importance (drafting copywriting, agreement writing, and so on), etc--are inflicting damage.

If I had a second employee to help me with primary and secondary tasks, a project manager, and an accountant--so much more could be accomplished.

Delegating tasks which do not need to be done by you directly to an employee would be my first advice.

Another way to do that is to contract with a service company or person that provides a part time service like accounting when there is not enough work to justify hiring a full time employee. A couple of years ago Nicolaus Nemeth here on the Forum said he had started to do just that for accounting.

Sophia is right that delegating is important and that those areas are the first to delegate. Furthermore, as your business grows one of the most difficult aspects will be willingness to delegate the more important aspects. You would typically find yourself increasingly involved in marketing and sales rather than the more interesting work you want to do.

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Thanks all!

ewv thanks for your insight. Pricing change, for the reasons you listed, is not a safe choice at this time--I don't think I'm under priced given how little time (compared to competitors) I've been in the market, in another year a moderate increase would be fine. As for delegation, outsourcing accounting work isn't quite necessary, since I spend less than 10% of my time on it--it fluctuates a lot, but generally just enough to be a pain but not enough to cause me problems. Project planning and management, however, is a much more taxing and takes a lot of time away from the most important tasks...that task isn't something that can be feasibly (as far as I know) done by an outside source. I could concentrate on that, as it isn't a full-time job, if perhaps I had an employee working on secondary tasks like writing. It might be a higher priority, as far as outsourcing/staffing goes, to have somebody handling those tasks--it would be easy enough, since they don't require as much skill and an entry-level person can handle those things. Could be a good first step.

And I know nothing of human resources or employment laws, so that will be a fun summer project, I'm sure.

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I'm not sure about outsourcing 'writing'. It depends on what the content is. No one understands your business and what you are trying to convey as well as you.

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Before one can expand they must have a vision of what it is they want to accomplish. A few thoughts you might want to answer may look something like this; do I want to stay small and just raise my prices while creating my own niche in this certain line of business? This is usually not the way to extreme wealth, but one can lead a very good life. Or, do you want to see a whole bunch of "Tom's Offices" around the nation or globe? This is usually the way to extreme wealth and of course you could study some technical and biographical books on some of the greats. Finally, I would not be to worried about not knowing the information you need as of right now, as your company grows you will either grow with it, stagnate or sell it. One cannot be good at leading until they actually lead, so do not expect to have the information to do so when you have just begun your business journey. You are going to make mistakes, who cares, recognize them quickly, take mental notes and do not make them again. Running a business can be a very demanding task, but it can also be one of the most rewarding things one does in their life, revel in it.

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