6 Tips to Grow Your Business Beyond the Kitchen Table

It is a challenge to run a successful, growing business from the dining room table. You know that table that is so buried in your work that you can no longer eat at it as a family. Some days your house is full of distractions: kids, pets, laundry, anything really, as you can procrastinate on that deadline and other days it feels so isolating and lonely that you’ll come up with any excuse to leave the house. Been there, done that. It doesn’t work for most people. Here are 6 tips to help guide you towards the success you deserve.

1. Set Your Goals

Think of this as your business road map. If you were going to drive across the country you would plan which highways to take. You would calculate how long it would take to get there, how much gas you’d need, and where to stop for the night. You should do the same for your business!

Develop an overall goal on where you want to see your company. Then create a plan to get you there. Start with the end goal and work backwards with yearly and monthly goals. Break it down to the daily habits you need to develop. Don’t forget to include your budget. Small businesses have failed due to lack of proper planning and budgeting.

2. Rapport, Rapport, Rapport!

Your entire identity as a business will be based on your rapport (or lack of). You are starting a small business. You are not on a 9am to 5pm timeline yet. Get up an hour early to get to that networking breakfast. Stay an hour late to enjoy a glass of wine during a business mixer. This is the least expensive, most successful way to advertise your business and gain the contacts you need.

Rapport isn’t just for networking. As your business grows, so will your team. Everyone’s goal as a business owner is to gain trustworthy, hardworking, happy employees. Put in the time and energy to develop a relationship with your employees. The better the relationship the more successful you will be at seeing them in your office 10 years from now.

3. Hold Accountability

You’ve spent a lot of time, money and energy getting your business going. Time to hold your team accountable to continue your success. Make sure each employee’s expectations are clearly outlined. Take the time to sit down and review with them, and be open to get their feedback as well. Outside vendors for marketing, payroll, or insurance need to be held accountable too. You are paying money to these companies to help you maintain your business. If you are not satisfied with the services they provide, they need to know.

Maybe the hardest but most important is holding yourself accountable. You need to know where the lines are and be willing to do something when they are crossed. Look at the goals you have set and reach them, and when you don’t, figure out what needs to be done differently going forward.

4. Incorporate Systems

When starting a business, you need to get organized. Don’t do everything on your own. Carefully handpick your team and delegate tasks. Creating systems ensures everyone knows what is expected and offers seamless training as your company continues to grow. Take a lesson from the corporate world. They didn’t get as large as they did by throwing out a list of to-do’s and hoping their company can figure out who does it, when they do it, when it’s due, and where to find it. Be open to evolving these systems. Revising systems creates less work, and less time to complete the task at hand.

5. Watch the Money

Keep your business budget strictly for business. Don’t mix business and personal banking accounts. Find the freebies and barter or negotiate with other businesses. Learn to utilize the free marketing that the world and the social-media engineers have given us. There is no advertising outlet in the world that is going to give you this kind of access, and it’s at your fingertips for free. Track operation costs each year. Tracking costs as large as copy machine use, or as small as the amount of Costco trips to stock up on Keurig cups will add up and can make a difference at the end of the month.

6. Attitude is Everything

The environment you create will be reflected onto your business. If you are stressing about money, your employees will stress about their jobs. If you walk in every morning with a smile and genuinely care about your people, they will feel like an important part of your company. Remember, people work for people, not corporations. Your physical self is the number one advertising tool of your business.

Have you ever heard, ‘dress for the position you want to be in, not the position you are currently in’? People are going to treat you the way you let them treat you. No one wants to be treated like your business consists of a bulky 1998 Dell laptop sitting on your messy kitchen table next to a filing bin that’s loaded with bank loan statements (it’s okay if that’s where you are by the way). Demand the attention of a CEO with a beautiful skyscraper building with your name in shiny silver writing on the wall behind an oak reception desk accompanied by a smiling young receptionist with a headset on. If your attitude convinces someone that it’s that type of business behind the VistaPrint business card, they will feel much more confident in working with you over working with what’s-his-name who showed up 5 minutes late to his meeting at Starbucks.