Why no man is an island - knowing when to stop going it alone in business
28/09/2018 by Ean Brown Partners Limited
Blog Series part 1
When starting up a business, a lot of small business owners are like impressive power-house dynamos, working in, on, and for the business, in every possible capacity: CEO, CFO, stock controller, salesperson, marketer, IT guru, PR specialist - as well as making their own coffees and taking out the rubbish.
It's impressive, admirable, and sometimes just plain necessary in those early cash-strapped days. But it is definitely not sustainable. In order to grow a business - and not completely burn out in the process - there comes a point when you need to take stock of your skills, time and resources, and know when to start bringing in outside help.
When you've been a one-(wo)man-band for so long, it can feel difficult to bring new people into the business. It's something a lot of SME owners struggle with. After all, no-one knows your business better than you – you've been living and breathing it! It can be hard to see how anyone could possibly improve on what you're already doing yourself.
Here is how DIY-ing it can be helping, and also possibly hindering, your business growth:
You know exactly what is happening in your business, but may not understand why
You've managed to market yourself locally, but are having trouble reaching further afield
You have a website, but customers are not finding it in search engines
You're becoming too busy working IN the business to be working ON the business
You're working hard, yes, but are you working smart? Know your limitations, and understand that in order to grow you need to bring in skills and expertise to help free up your own time, as well as provide expert advice on "where to from here".
"Great things in business are never done by one person. They're done by a team of people" - Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc
Skills can be brought into the business through employing staff, using contractors, or outsourcing to an agency. A busy hairdresser could hire a receptionist to take care of appointment bookings. A web developer might use a contractor to handle overflow work. A builder who doesn't have time for paperwork could consider outsourcing to a bookkeeper. Consider the skills you need, the time commitment required, and the costs involved to decide on the best option for your situation.
Professional expertise can come from business advisers, who can review your business structure, benchmark your performance against your competitors and industry, advise you on ways to increase profit margins, help you access financing and structure debt for the best tax advantage, as well as prepare business plans, cash flow projections and trading forecasts. Sometimes business owners are hesitant to use these types of services due to the perceived high costs, however the benefits that come from tax minimisation and profit margin increases soon outweigh any possible savings from "going it alone".
"A big business starts small" - Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group
Ultimately the reason people start their own business is so they can enjoy autonomy, freedom, and a greater work/life balance. But if you end up running yourself into the ground trying to do it all you not only have less of those things, the business is also unable to exist without you. Bringing in extra help helps you focus on what really matters, and eventually allows you to step back and let the business work for you, rather than the other way around. And that's a pretty good measure of success.