Are you a business owner wearing many hats in your business, one of which may even be sales? If this is the case, you are not alone. There are many business owners with around $2M-$3M in sales, where the owner/operator is still acting in a sales capacity and running many other areas of the business. All of this is while still dealing with day-to-day issues.
Keeping Your Eye on the Right Ball
Revenue as a focus to grow your business has to be your core goal. To do this, you must develop processes to track your sales leads and forecast appropriately. You almost continue filling your pipeline and measuring your and your team's success. As your business grows, there will need to be enough structure to hire the right people to free you up to work on your business. If you are the only one who performs long-term sales for the business, you become the business. If "you are the business" when you want to sell your business and retire, you will find the actual business is not worth what you thought. Without you, there is most likely no business.
Developing Sales for the Long Term
When we talk to business owners who want to grow their business, they sometimes tell us they can barely handle the sales they have. Yet to grow, they still need to increase sales. Depending on your products and services, you can attract customers without much time spent on marketing or developing new sales. In the majority of cases, this is not a sustainable model. Your sales growth will eventually slow unless you have the proper marketing or know-how to develop new sales. If your marketing is not in place when you need to grow, this is tough to start when you are now behind the eight-ball. Here are some identified barriers to sales growth:
Lack of back-end processes, project management, or systems to be able to handle more sales
Lack of working capital to purchase additional inventory or hire the necessary people or spend on marketing
The existing employees have too much on their plate
The business cannot obtain financing at the current time due to finances.
Strategy, Time, and Focus
When one person in a business does everything, you, as the owner do not have the time to develop a strategy and processes, buy suitable systems or figure out how to hire the right people. You are just keeping your head above water. The problem is that time goes by, and more people join the company; you must manage more than yourself. It will be sufficient for a little while, and then all of a sudden, things will start falling through the cracks. Without proper management, you will find that employees are not doing what you think they should be doing and are unsure why. You need to understand why the employees are not taking the initiative to do things in the business independently.
As an owner, it is your business. You have taken most of the risk but also have the most to gain if the company prospers. Employees want and require structure. They want to understand what they are supposed to do and to whom they take direction. Mostly, they are there for a paycheque to feed their family, as this is not their business; it is yours. The better you treat employees and recognize them for their contribution to the company, the more they will want to help contribute to the business's success.
Once you hire employees, you must let go and delegate the responsibility to others. It would help if you focused on your business's success and working on growth, not bogged down in the day-to-day fire fighting. We find many business owners put off hiring salespeople as there needs to be more trust in letting go of that part of the reigns. The key is to hire the right salespeople and manage them properly. We have seen many owners hire the wrong people or instead hire the right people but need to train them on the business and give them proper guidance. Instead, they forgo trusting this function to anyone else and continue trying to run the business and sell. The focus must be on working on the company and setting aside the time to do so. There is nothing wrong with the owner still being part of sales from time to time as they are the face of the business to customers. But, if the company is going to grow, the primary focus needs to change from selling and finding others suited for this function.
The Concentration of Effort - Day to Day
If you want to grow the business, the new focus as the business owner needs to be on:
Understand the revenue you require monthly to cover your expenses and break even and eventually become profitable.
Understand your expenses and whether they are reasonable or need to be reduced.
Understand if account receivables are collected on time and the level of bad debt you are carrying.
Understand if you can pay your bills when they come due.
Understand if you are spending enough money on lead generation and marketing to generate the sales you need.
Understand if the money you spend on sales and marketing has generated a return on investment. If they have not, you want to understand why not and stop paying for those activities or alter your actions.
Understanding if your financials are such that you can borrow money for investment if needed.
Understand if you have too much inventory or too much.
Understand if there are employee issues in your business that are adversely affecting your business.
Understand that if the productivity of your business is less than 70%, your business is not productive.
The Concentration of Effort - Ongoing
To grow your business, in addition to the items that you as a business owner need to be on top of, your role needs to be the one to:
Set the organization's strategy, goals, objectives, and vision with time frames of when you would like to achieve them.
Communicate your strategy, goals, objectives and vision to your employees so everyone in the business is on the same page.
Ensure that the goals and objectives set for employees and their performance appraisals are tied to the business's goals and objectives.
Put the proper steps and measurements in place for the business to help meet and measure the success of your goals and objectives.
Determine if you are meeting your goals and objectives, and if not, you need to know why not.
As a business owner, there will come a time when you will need to focus your efforts and time on the right things to keep your business running smoothly and be poised for future growth. Suppose you are running around doing 100 different things daily as well as selling like when you started the company. In that case, you need to be more focused on the business to ensure you can meet your goals, both from a business and personal perspective. As a business owner, your time must be spent working on your business and determining how to grow it and take it to the next level. It is hard to let go of the reins, but you will be taking the step needed to grow your business when you do.
If you need help on where to start, business coaching can help you obtain the skills you need to learn to work on your business.