There comes a point in your business when you reach a Catch-22 situation. Your workload is maxed out, you want to continue growing, but you’re at a difficult point where you can’t quite afford help, but you can’t survive and grow successfully without it. You want to find ways to increase your revenue, which means more work on your plate, but you’re already managing the roles of three full-time people. You need more time and more money, and you’re strapped for both. What do you do?
Small business owners who find creative ways to manage their current work while continuing to expand their businesses win out in the end; those who can’t eventually hit a plateau and are usually left feeling trapped by their businesses, and figuring out how to be more resourceful and innovative might be the only way to work through it.
Steering a 70-Ton Train
The first thing you generally have to accept when you find yourself at this point in your business is that it’s going to be hard to maintain complete control. Up to this point, it’s been only you, working at your own pace and your own way, so you’ve likely had a lot of control over your business and its growth. In fact, it’s likely that you’ve experienced many lulls throughout the life of your business. During those times, you had a lot more free time to plan, to market and promote your business, as well as organize your workload to suit your style and preferences.
As your business grows, however, things begin to change. It’s a quiet roar in the distance warning you that something is coming, and then all of a sudden, the 70-ton train is moving. All that marketing and promotion and hard work has started paying off, and you now have the momentum of that big lead generation train behind you. The only problem is that you haven’t built the tracks, and now it’s hard to steer.
You’ll have to get used to keeping things moving in the general direction you want them to go, without having absolute control over every detail. As you find help, you’re going to have to accept different working styles, get used to training and teaching others on your support team, and even adjust to the demands of your new role as manager (or engineer).
Learning to Take Baby Steps
Another thing you might want to prepare for is working in small increments to get things on track. Not everything is going to work immediately or as expected, so it’s going to take a lot more patience and persistence to see your business through the growing pains.
You may have to “try on” several solutions before finding the fit that’s just right for your situation and business, but you have to trust that a solution exists or risk relegating yourself to that plateau forever. Keep searching until you find the right match.
Also, prepare to make adjustments. As you put the support structure in place for your business, it’s unlikely that it will work seamlessly right out of the gate. You’ll need to modify the plan and your support team as you go, so set out to make gradual and steady changes over time so that you’re left with a strong and sturdy foundation to support you.
Being Resourceful and Innovative
The last part of the puzzle is adding support when you’re lacking the time and money necessary to build it. How do you hire help and train someone, for example, when you (a) don’t have the money to pay him or her and (b) don’t have the time to devote to training and figuring out what to delegate?
First (and again), you’ll need to be prepared to take baby steps, but second, you’ll have to figure out ways to be more resourceful and creative when finding support for your business. Some solutions might include:
- Bartering with other business owners who might be in a similar position,
- Starting an internship program or working with local college students, or
- Bootstrapping to incrementally build a budget for a virtual assistant.
Think about everything you have to offer, and find ways to make those resources work to your advantage. Chances are, something you have at your disposal is exactly what someone else needs, and that kind of exchange can get you on your way without taking much in the way of time and money.
Seeing a business through stages of growth and change can be challenging, especially for small and solo business owners who are strapped for resources, but with a little creativity, there might just be a way to push through the plateau and take your business to the next level.
How have you used creativity and resourcefulness to grow your business when limited on time and money?