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Scale Your Business

View Peter Black's profile on LinkedIn    E: peter.black@peterblackcoaching.com   M: 0419 510 955  T: @PeterBlackCoach

How do you scale your business by working smarter - not harder?

I work with a lot of small businesses through a monthly coaching meeting, either individual owners or 3-4 partners running  a business, with approximately 80% of them being services businesses with between 5 and 25 employees. 

I also am a Group Chair with The Executive Connection(TEC) where I conduct a monthly half day peer mentoring meeting with 16 SME owners/CEO’s and also meet with the owner/CEO once a month.

Most of these businesses wish to grow so that the business owners can delegate and work more "On the Business" rather than "In the Business".

I am therefore quite privileged to have an insight in the key business issues and challenges of a diversity of businesses.  

The following is a summary of issues that I see and vicariously experience and forms the basis of a radio interview I did with Tatiana Coulter of Eaglewaves Small Business Radio in Sydney on 27 November 2014, which is at the foot of this page for your listening.

Key issues being faced by business owners

  • Working hard - sometimes because they like work but more often because they have to
  • Subject to constant change
  • Burdened with compliance and regulation
  • Engaging their people and gaining productivity out of them
  • Operating in a high cost country and therefore gaining commensurate value
  • At risk from a range of other issues in either not staying in business or not growing in accordance with their potential
  • Thinking where their business will be in 3-5 years
  • The rise and potential threat of global competition - although this could be an opportunity too
  • Lack of work/life balance or integration
Are business owners getting adequate return for their efforts?
  • Some are getting outstanding returns but many are not given the risks and the efforts they are putting in
  • However, the returns are very often intangible - the freedom and control of running one's own business
  • Compared to some of their employees, business owners should be earning more
  • In terms of time invested, I suggest many are working too much IN the business and not ON the business - therefore retarding their growth options
Some suggested solutions to help scale your business?
  • As noted above, many owners are too buried IN the business and they are not sitting back and thinking about “is there a smarter way?”
  • You need to first understand what your strategy and target markets are.  Strategy is as much as anything what you don’t do!
  • Having the honest insight of outsiders - whether business coaches like me, other professional advisers, or peers in similar businesses can be beneficial
  • A self audit of where time is being expended can be useful
  • A review of the customer and client base and their respective revenue and profitability may indicate that time is being spent on customers and markets that drain time and profitability.

How to work smarter
  • Classic rules of time management
    • the "Green frogs" approach which ensures you do the most important but potentially harder projects first each day
    • Work on important rather than urgent matters
    • Use electronic "To do and task" lists extensively
    • Turn off devices at certain times during the day and week to provide thinking, reading, uninterrupted time to strategise, be creative, innovate and improve processes
    • Turn off social media - control it rather than vice versa
    • Restrict meeting times - particularly if these do not further your own agenda
    • Be disciplined in capturing information - one time capture and synchronisation across systems and devices
  • Use technology and systems to automate, track, follow up etc
  • Question everything regularly- eliminate, change, ask why?
  • Seek process improvement constantly - use the kaizen methodology
How you scale your business
  • Technology is a big enabler
  • Cloud services to provide access anywhere anytime any device - and reduce IT infrastructure time and costs
  • Process review, systemise
  • Use outsourced services - whether domestically or offshore
  • Review employment models and question whether contractors are better. Ensure all employees and contractors are actually fulfilling the terms of their contracts
  • Ensure staff know their roles and provide regular feedback. Empower them and meet regularly to review progress
What other things should business owners be doing?
  • Maintaining physical and mental health
  • Having time away from the business to think and strategise
  • Learn by looking at trends, changes, what competitors are doing
  • Disrupt your business regularly
  • Take regular holidays