6 Tips for Growing Your Business Beyond The Kitchen Table
Nobody has a dream of running a successful business from the dining room table. The one that has mail sliding off to the floor, 3 kids running around screaming and chasing each other and crumbs from last nights dinner. That table that has the hidden water glass ring that is only found after it ruins the corner of every single page of that 15 sheet presentation you worked on all night. You know what I’m talking about. Here are 6 tips to help boost you into a breathable space that will guide you towards success.
1. Set Your Goals (First and Foremost!)
Think of this as your business road map. If you want to drive across the United States you are surely planning a destination and which highways to take, right? You need to know how long it will take to get there, how many tanks of gas you need, even where you should fill up for gas or stop for the night. Develop an overall goal on where you want to see your company. Then create a plan to get you there. Start out at the end goal and work your way down with yearly and monthly goals, then down to the daily habits you need to develop to get there. Don’t forget to include your budget in this stage! Small businesses have fallen flat on the floor by lack of proper planning and budgeting. Create a budget, stick to it, and adjust it a few months down the road if needed.
2. Rapport, Rapport, Rapport!
I cannot stress this one enough. Your entire identity as a business will be based on your rapport (or lack of). You are starting up a small business for goodness sake! We aren’t on a 9-5 yet folks. Get your butt up an hour early to get to a networking breakfast. Stay an hour late to enjoy a glass of wine during a business mixer (keep it to one glass!). This is the least expensive, most successful way to advertise your business and gain the contacts you need. I can’t tell you how many vendors, employees, or referrals I have gotten simply over networking. Rapport is not just for networking though. As your business grows, most likely so will your team. Everyone’s goal as a business owner is to gain trustworthy, hardworking, happy employees. It is up to you whether you end up with them or not. The amount of energy and time you put into developing a relationship with your employees, the more successful you will be at seeing them in your office 10 years from now.
3. Hold Accountability
This one seems pretty basic, but is often put on the back burner. There is a lot at stake in running your own business. You’ve spent a lot of time, money and energy to get this baby going. You need 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 them, and be open to get their feedback as well. If you are using outside vendors for marketing, payroll, or insurance they need to be held accountable too. You are paying out money to these companies to help you maintain your business. If you are not satisfied with the services they provide, they need to know. You also need to hold yourself accountable. You need to know where lines are not crossed and be willing to do something about it when they are. You need to look at the goals you have set and reach them, and when you don’t reach them you need to figure out what needs to be done different going forward.
4. Incorporate Systems
When you are starting a business from the ground up, it will be a heck of a lot easier if you keep things organized. You cannot do everything on your own (newsflash). Carefully handpick your team around you and delegate tasks accordingly. Creating systems ensures everyone knows what is expected and offers seamless training as your company continues to grow. This will also help with the quality control of your business. This is an area you can reference a corporate structure on. 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 too. Revising systems creates less work, and less time to complete the task at hand…and we all know time is money.
5. Be On Your Money Like White-On-Rice
First off, keep your filthy paws off your business budget. This is NOT an extension of your checkbook. This budget is strictly here to grow your company. Now that that’s settled…learn to barter. When I was 15 I was sitting in a brand new, tricked out diesel truck heading to a vacation home in Havasu, AZ. The truck belonged to my friend’s dad (an entrepreneur who created his own successful business) and he handed me the very first piece of business advice that ever stuck in my head. He told us (with a stern face while shaking his finger at us), “Girls, everything in life is negotiable.” To this day I’m still not sure if EVERYTHING is negotiable, but it sure gave me that extra push in numerous occasions that ended up saving me money – or at least being commended for trying. With that being said, learn to utilize the free marketing that the world and the insanely genius social-media engineers have given us. Did you know that there are more than 2 billion active social media accounts as of January 2015? Over 1.6 billion of those are active via mobile device. About 1.4 billion of internet users are on that free social media site called Facebook…you know that one that allows you to create a FREE business page. Jumping over to LinkedIn, there are over 39 million students and recent college graduates with accounts. 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. Speaking of free…or what isn’t free…. your operation costs each year. This is another area that can save you a TON of money. 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 make a difference at the end of the month.
6. Attitude Really is Everything
As a business owner, it is none of your employee, customer, or vendor’s business to know what challenges you are facing internally. The environment you create for your employees will be reflected onto your business. If you are stressing about money, they will stress about their jobs. If you walk in every morning with a smile and genuinely ask how someone is doing, they will feel they are an important piece of your company. Remember, people work for people…not for corporations. Your physical self is the number one advertising tool of your business. Another fun experiment to generate rapport in the business world is mirroring. If you haven’t seen Tony Robbins’ (yes…I’m bringing him into this) seminar on mirroring watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dENi7K2lX4U. He explains in great detail how to use this as a networking tool. Lastly, fake-it-till-you-make-it. NO, I am not telling you to lie about your business. Have you ever heard the saying “dress for the position you want to be in, not the position you are currently in.”? It’s like that. People are going to treat you the way you let them treat you. Don’t let them treat you like your business like it consists of a bulky 1998 dell laptop sitting on your kitchen table next to a filing bin that’s loaded with bank loan statements (it’s totally cool if that’s where you are by the way). Demand the attention of a CEO with a beautiful skyscraper building, in downtown LA, with your name in shiny silver writing on the wall that’s placed behind an oak reception desk, accompanied by a smiling tailored young woman with a headset on. If your attitude convinces someone that that’s the type of business behind your VistaPrint business card, they will feel much more confident in working with your business over working with what’s-his-name who showed up 5 minutes late to his meeting at Starbucks.