Thinking back to those very first days of starting a business, I sometimes wish I had a time machine and could give myself a bit of advice. It’s nothing that I hadn’t heard from other entrepreneurs, but back then, I remember thinking that somehow it didn’t apply to me or that they just didn’t get my business the way only I could. The funny thing is they did (only it took me a decade to realize it).
What I Would Tell Myself About Growing a Business
Charge Realize What You Are Worth — Ask yourself what the true value of what you are selling is worth. Is that little know-how going to save them time, money, hassle? Will your expert knowledge help them jump ahead of the learning curve? Does your fancy-schmancy product add directly to their bottom-line? Before you can charge what you are worth, you need to know what it is worth to your customers.
Collect, Nag, Chase Down Bad Debt — Don’t let your customers turn your small business into a bank! Your job is not extending endless amounts of credit, it’s providing a product or service (which in all likelihood, they have already benefited from by the time you send them an invoice). Stay on top of collecting your accounts receivables because the longer it goes unpaid, the less chance you have of ever collecting on it.
Create Synergies and Partnerships — Strategically align yourself with complementary businesses, either within your industry or from a related industry, and find ways to help each other. The possibilities are endless, but good places to start are cross promotions, direct referrals, and customer loyalty programs. The key is making the synergy tangible and concrete.
Build Concrete Systems Early — Invest in building (and documenting) internal systems. Focusing on systems in the early stages of starting a business does two important things: #1 it forces you to create systems and processes instead of falling into a default way of doing things and #2 it makes it easier to handle growth when you have a ready-made operations manual to hand over to new team members.
Do What Scares You Now and Get It Over With — Stop trying to avoid that big life lesson you need to learn — whether it’s getting over your fear of public speaking or learning how to write a blog post. Just do it now and get it over with so you can go on with building your business and add it to your list of essential business skills instead of the list of things you loathe doing.
What about you? What would you tell yourself about growing a business if you had a time machine? Share them in the comments below!