Often I hear clients ask me: “How can I take my business to the next level?” Some even ask if there is some kind of checklist or template they can use in making this happen. Let's see...
A good place to start is to consider the problems first (and be honest about what it will take to fix them).
This may seem a bit backwards. After all, the business blogs and magazines tend to focus on tools and tactics that are intended to grow and improve operations or profitability. In my experience, though, until you fix the “messes,” you’re spending time and money in the wrong place. Problems slow you down.
As your business grows, your messes will grow right along with it if you don’t fix them. When that happens, you’ll be drowning in new work but are unable to do a good job since you’ll be beyond the point where ad hoc fixes and systems can support you.
Here are some examples of messes that escalate as your business grows:
1. Your email inbox
If you’re having trouble keeping up with your inbox now, think about what could happen when you reach your dream and your business doubles or triples in size. The volume of emails will double or triple, too.
So take the time now and figure out a system to manage your inbox.
2. Your contact list
You have business cards piled all over your desk, a private email account, a business email address, and a ton of LinkedIn and Facebook contacts. Right now, you can ‘kind of’, ‘sort of’, remember where to go to find a given contact.
But as you grow, particularly if you add new information to contacts, it will be too much to keep in your head. When you want to promote a new product or service, announce a new website, or even just send a holiday card, it will be a huge chore for you.
The solution is to keep all your contacts in one place. Choose a CRM and add everyone, once and for all. Create a system to keep it up to date.
3. Your finances
Whether you offer a service or a product, it’s important to know whether or not you’re making money. When you are just starting out, you might have more time than money and not be too worried about profitability.
But again, as you get busier, you’ll want to make sure that you’re not losing money on some (or all?) of your efforts. You can either take the time to figure this out or find yourself a capable financial resource who can come in and sort things out for you.
Messes are as individual as the person who makes them – but they’re all fixable. Make a list of all your messes and prioritize them according to how much they’re holding you back and how much money and time they are wasting.
Then either hire someone to help you handle them or make a list of actionable steps to get them under control.
Get rid of them one by one so you and your business can be bigger, more efficient, work less and make more money!