As a small business owner, you’re familiar with ups and downs. Chances are you’ve spent the past year – or ten years – growing your business to where it is today. You’ve put in countless hours and more thought than you’ve ever considered possible. You’ve probably invested a solid amount of capital as well. Turning a small business into a successful operation is never easy, but you already know that; you’ve been there.
Sometimes though, small business owners get so consumed with the day to day activities of keeping their businesses operational, that they forget about something that was there in the beginning, during the planning phase of their company. They begin to forget about the big picture.
Have you been there? Are you there now? Are you able to remember the last time you were able to step out of your daily routine and focus on the direction that you want your small business to head in? If not, now is the time.
To know if it’s time to take your small business to the next step, you need to take the time to focus on the goals you set when you started your company in the first place. Where did you see your business going? What amount of growth did you consider “successful” when you started setting benchmarks and considering profitability?
If you take the time to look back over your goals and to evaluate where you are now, you might realize that you’ve met many of your initial start-up phase benchmarks. You might also realize that you’ve been stuck in a certain spot for a long time. That can be the time to take your business to the next step.
If you’re a company who wants to sell big machinery to high-end clients, but you only have used dozers for sale, you may be stuck with a need to try a new step. If you are a start-up tax firm who has reached the maximum number of clients that you can handle on your own, it may be time to consider expanding or talking to a business coach about options for reaching a new market.
What is the Next Step?
You may be realizing that it’s time to move on, take a step in a new direction or simply a step forward. So what is the next step? While the answer to this question varies from one company to another, below are a few steps that many small businesses have benefited, or could benefit from.
- Working with a Business Coach: Many small business owners are so inward focused that it can be difficult to consider the next steps. Business coaches are paid professionals with experience moving businesses from one phase of an operation to another. They’re able to identify key factors and stressors that those within the workings of the company may be blinded to. Working with an outside party could be a critical next step.
- Commit to Learning: When a business stays in a single stage of operation, remaining stagnant, it’s easy to forget that no industry stays the same. Things change constantly. From technology to application of knowledge, it’s never okay to stop learning. Look for continuing education classes and seminars, or join a professional organization. Make learning a priority at all times.
- Embrace Social Media: If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to put the extra effort into your social media marketing abilities. Talk to your customers or venture onto a few of the sites on your own. Find out where your customers are spending their time and create a free account. Look for new ways to engage your community; social media makes this simple. This cannot be overlooked by any business wishing to grow their consumer base.
- Consider Options for Growth: It may be time to bring on a new employee if you’ve reached your maximum consumer capacity in your current business model. Or, if you have multiple employees and have maxed out the market you can reach in a single location, it may be time to consider adding another. Growth is important for any business; it’s the only way any operation can expand past a certain point. However, it must be done with caution. Be sure your business can handle the initial stress of additional growth and put a plan in place after careful research.
Taking off the small business blinders is the first step to considering when it’s time to take the next step for a small business. Consider your current circumstance and look for ways to move forward.