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Small Business

The growth dilemma

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Hey, if you don’t want to grow a world class business, don’t worry, you probably are in a big majority! These are the controversial findings of small business researcher Ross Cameron of Business Owner Research.

Ross reckons about 85 per cent of small businesses want their business to fit in with their goals of having a good, well-balanced life.

The other two types of businesses are hobby ones or growth-oriented business builders.

Mind you, I don’t entirely agree with his demarcations.

The comfort zone

My experience has shown me that many businesses are in the 85 per cent group Ross talks about but they’re not dead against growing. Many of them just don’t know how to grow and they don’t want to do it to the ruination of their family, their relationships and their happiness.

Many home-based businesses are started because the hum drum of employee life is too rushed and impersonal. Mums want to pick up their kids from school, dads want to be there at special moments in their kids’ lives and generally their skill set permits them to trade in a job for a business.

Some are forced into re-inventing themselves because they’re shown the door while others cut before the inevitable happens.

Often the amount of money needed to make a business work is set in relation to what someone has earnt in their former job.

So, if someone was on $60,000 as an employee, a home-based business bringing in the same amount or a little bit more, in concert with some of the tax deductions of running a business, can make the switch to self-employment an alternative.

Then the work rolls in

Then what happens is that more work comes and you often find it difficult to say “No”.

As you have never been in business before you go along for the ride. You also know that the really good times could be followed by bad times and so you feel you have to average it out over time.

What happens ultimately is a choice — do I want to grow or not?

Growth brings problems like employing people, new costs like workers compensation, superannuation, etc and it means more time and government red tape to deal with. It can also mean the cost of external premises.

Do I want to get bigger?

I believe many business owners then choose to stay small, home-based and self-contained. But that doesn’t mean they can’t grow. But they should know that there will be limits if they don’t want to take on staff or contractors and, possibly, external premises.

Anyone choosing to stay very small should make the commitment to start working smarter so they won’t have to work longer.

How do I do it?

The triple play is to drive revenue up, screw costs down and do it using less of your precious time.

It could mean making one concession to your goal to be independent. Over the years I’ve had many people come back to me who’ve said: “I’ve always remembered you saying that sometimes it’s good to use an expert in areas like bookkeeping.”

The time you spend in an area where you’re weak steals time away from the business area where you’re strong and where you can make more money.

It is really wise to compare hourly rates, say, yours compared to a bookkeeper and then make a decision.

The same can be done with a cleaner. I’ve known many home-based business operators who want to stay small who’ve used people like cleaners, ironers, lawn cutters, etc, to create time to make more money for their businesses.

Here’s the rub

Working smarter and allocating your time more effectively means you find time to work on your business instead of working in your business.

I find whenever I go on holidays that in the first week I just chill out to forget the tough year of working. However, in the second week when I’m refreshed I can’t help thinking about my business and how I could do it better next year.

Also I believe many of us change the goal posts as our life develops. When our kids were young we wanted to keep the business manageable so we were always with them. But as they got older and didn’t think we were cool enough to hang around them so much, we started to reassess our goals.

Over the past few years, we’ve gone for growth and the Switzer Group now has 10 employees, a number of contractors and we are moving into the fast lane for more growth in coming years.

Play it smart

The transition from a managed business to a fast grower was made easier by our commitment to innovation, which meant we worked smarter.

If you’re into a healthy work/life balance, you can best achieve that by being on the cutting edge of business. Ignoring time-saving technology and better business techniques could make your life a whole lot tougher than it has to be. It could also unfairly the steal the time you might be desperate to save.

Work on your business, not in it. To learn how, book a complimentary business assessment today with a Switzer Business Coach.

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published on: Friday, December 18, 2009

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