Growth is one of the hardest things to predict, plan for and execute as a small business or when you’re going solo. You know you need to grow to keep your business alive, you may even know where you want to be. The problem is having the time and the skills to get the business there.
One of the first things any business owner needs to do is to draw the line between their business and themselves. It can be really hard to do, you’re probably (and should be) in business to do something you believe in and are passionate about and in a lot of ways it will feel like an extension of you.
For many solo and small business owners business doesn’t necessarily come naturally. Usually your core business isn’t business itself, your skills lie in what you produce. Analysing markets, commercialising products, promotion, marketing and forging strategic relationships are all key, but not what you’re most experienced at.
The traditional model is to use a specialist or consultant for each area, or a few linked areas, of your business where you need help to grow. It’s a great system and can work really well. The problem with it is you still need to have a sound strategic focus and an idea of where you are placed and what you’re capable of to make the most of your consultants.
Having a good strategic advisor who isn’t linked to any direct outcome of their activities can fill a very valuable position. While someone is focussing or vested in an outcome they will guide the direction of the business and what it does in a biased way. You can gain a great advantage by bringing in someone responsible solely for helping guide the business to where you want it to be, using their experience to compliment your own and drawing on others to deliver specific tasks.
It is really important to work with someone who shares your vision. In some cases you’ll link up with a co-founder or business partner to fill that role. If not, finding someone who brings the focus, drive and knowledge you’re looking for can be difficult and expensive to hire full time. A consultant who only looks at traditional business development can be brilliant, but also be confined to the parameters they are used to.
The best solution is someone who is working towards your end goal, with a combined product, business and market approach. If you bring a lean business model to the way you aim to grow, you can gain the maximum return on any investment you make.
A start-up style concept development approach can be applied to almost any business. Forming consistency through everything the business thinks, develops and delivers is the most important thing - whether people, place or product. This is centred on delivering to the end user in the most efficient and effective way, generating the most revenue for the smallest investment and in the shortest period of time.
Any business can strip back its operation to the core product and operation, the key is minimum viable product - and knowing where a product needs to be to make the most of entering or targeting the market.
My personal philosophy is to support great ideas however they need to be supported. Every concept has its place, the key is to identify the commercial merit, or refine the concept to create it. Once the merit is clear the path can be laid to creating a successful business.
Teams are vital, and knowing and trusting the external skills you bring in to your business is just as important. Working closely with someone who can bring together that team with a minimum delay, time and research investment can make an enormous difference to the bottom line.
Work with someone who wants to see great ideas happen and be the best they can be in the market, not just do a good job for what you pay.
There are a lot of people in the business world out there who think that way, the key is knowing where to look. Someone who wants to partner long term will always bring more than someone looking for a quick turn around.
I am constantly in awe of the brilliant, creative people and ideas I see. Working with them is the most rewarding thing I get to do. From musicians, artists, directors and producers, to professional products and services, to technology and innovation, there is a way to put everything together to be innovative and make your mark.
By opening yourself and your business to work with someone from outside who wants to see you succeed you immediately bolster your chances.