I’ve often wondered why some businesses erupt and are huge, enabling the owner to have financial freedom, whilst others, with an equally valid value proposition stay small, providing an income and if we’re honest, another job.
This harks back to the reason why we are doing it. The real reason behind starting up. Is it to design the lifestyle we want, or is it to create a profitable business complete with exit strategy?
And are the two necessarily exclusive? I don’t think they are. Yet this is a major stumbling block for many women business owners. From research we conducted in 2012 of 300 women business owners, 68% of them are earning less now than when they had a job. They may have a business which offers them the potential to create a large and profitable business but for various reasons they are not exploiting it in that way.
To create a business which is scalable, and will provide financial freedom instead of just an income, requires you to think quite differently about your business from the start.
When you are creating it, you need to build it with the thought that you will not be doing it all. Develop systems and processes from the start, so that you can automate as much as possible and ultimately have someone else to do this work.
You need to remove yourself from as much of the business as possible. Already I can hear those of you that are coaches, designers and other professional service providers saying “but people buy me”. You are thinking, “They want to buy me and my experience, my talent and my approach.” That may be the case now, but you need to leave your ego behind if you truly want to create a big business.
Yes, they may want to buy you, but there is only one of you. If you continue to sell only you and your time, your business will be forever limited by how many hours you can work in a day.
Overcome these limitations by approaching your business in the following way:-
1. Train your customers to love the approach of your business, your systems but not to love you.
In that way you can have them buy into the brand of your company and the company approach and philosophy, freeing yourself up from having to be pivotal to all delivery. Even if you are in professional services you can adopt this approach and scale.
2. Systemise your approach.
If you have certain way of doing things that your customers love and it produces results for them, how can you create a system that you could train others in? People who are trained up could be come associates, employers, franchisees, or whatever. They would be able to service the demand you create for your services in the same way you do. You get to cover a larger number of clients, even though you are not doing all the work.
3. Think big and think scale.
Too often we are timid when we set our goals for our new business. Typically, women leaving corporates to set up their own business, aren’t trying to go for global domination, as most often the reason they create their own business, is for more flexibility and freedom. Thus creating what they see as a big enterprise, will not enable their lifestyle choice, so they are happy to get by and make enough to cover their costs. Most of them don’t even have a business plan. Thinking about creating a larger business from the start, being diligent in creating a business plan and financial forecasts for growth, and ensuring you have the investment to underpin the growth, are essential to create a business which will allow you to be financially free.
4. Set up the business with a view to selling it one day.
Imagine if you set your business up with this in mind. How would that influence your initial decisions about your business? What would you call your company, how would you package the services and products, how would you service your customers, and what types of systems would you put in place at the start?
We deserve to have thriving businesses and to enjoy the benefits that brings, both financial and the feeling of doing work we love and find rewarding.
I’d love to hear about your challenges in the comments below!