Last week I hosted a small business roundtable lunch with four other local business owners. Our goal was to first get acquainted with our respective businesses and then give each person the opportunity to present a challenge, question or idea for discussion. It’s always great to hear feedback from other business owners, and even when we weren’t discussing Modmacro specifically, I was able to gather insights by listening to the ideas being discussed. Our five businesses are quite different, but one clear commonality is that we’re all operating service-oriented companies.
There were several topics discussed, from how to price services, grow strategically, set short and long-term goals, manage team members, the excessive burden of taxes, marketing and much more. And while the discussions were focused on specific companies, I found the following three tips that apply universally to all small businesses and startups.
1. Identify the Tasks You Don’t Want to Do
One of the business owners put it simply. If you want your business to grow you need to “define the things you don’t want to do”. As business owners, many of us naturally try to do everything. I know I do! But at some point, that’s not smart or realistic. Everybody has gifts and talents, but nobody is gifted to do everything. So it’s important to identify the business-related tasks that need to be outsourced or delegated to team members. And in some cases, software solutions offer semi-automated tools to ease the workload.
To Do: Find tasks you don’t want to perform because you simply dislike them or they’re not in your wheelhouse. Make a list and start pushing those tasks to team members, software solutions or outsourcing agencies. A couple examples might include payroll, tax payments, bookkeeping and marketing.
2. How Big Do You Want Your Company to Be?
This one sounds easy, but deciding how big you want your company to be is a challenge for many small business owners. But without setting a goal, how do you know when you’ve reached it? Some of us prefer to run smaller agencies, perhaps up to 10 people. Others want to build an empire and see no reason to limit the size. Either way, you need to make a decision.
To Do: Forget about the limitations related to funding, office space and personnel management. Ignore those realities temporarily and simply decide how big or small you want your organization to be. Then start making it happen.
3. Understand What Motivates You
We discussed motivation a lot during the lunch. For some business owners, money is a direct motivator. Some want to build a new company up, while others are starting to put retirement plans together for a business that’s been steady for years. For others, money is not the primary motivator. Maybe it’s the relationships we build with clients or the projects themselves that motivate us. Whatever the motivations are, it’s important that you’re honest with yourself about what they really are.
To Do: Look at the tasks you gravitate toward in your business. Clearly you choose to spend your time where you are most passionate and motivated. Look at your business and identify your true motivations. Make a very short list (1-4 items) and rank your motivations, most important first. Then compare this list with the first one you made (tasks you don’t want to do). Start evolving your company in a purposeful way that ensures you have hands-on involvement with the tasks you enjoy, and delegate the others. Doing so will aid with the scalability of your organization and help to prevent you from getting burned out.