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The decision as to whether to take steps to actively grow your business might sound like a no-brainer (surely everybody wants to grow their business?), but for many small business owners, it’s not so straightforward.
Firstly, there’s the issue of control. Many business owners are concerned that the bigger they get, the less control they’ll have. This fear usually stems from one of two core issues:
1. “It’s my baby.” Defending and protecting those things which are of great value and importance to us is a perfectly natural reaction. For those who have built up a business from scratch, often at some considerable personal sacrifice, the thought of handing over any part of that to somebody else can fill them with fear. But just like sending your children off to university, letting go is not only possible, but also hugely beneficial. Getting over that fear is the hard part.
2. Micro-managers. Just last year, Cath Kidston (she of the kitsch, floral wallpaper/bags/kitchenware empire) stepped down as Creative Director, leaving the day to day running of the business to others, admitting that micro-management had always been a problem for her. Of course, pulling away completely is not an option for most small businesses, but people whose leadership style centres on micro-management will find it even harder to ‘let go’, to any extent. The issue often lies with a lack of trust.
For those keen to grow their business, but who struggle with micro-management or letting go, a coach may be the best way forward. They can work with you to rationalise your fears, help you put processes in place for heightening your own performance and provide an objective sounding board. (This option of course has a cost associated with it and therefore brings it’s own challenges, please see below for more on finance.)
Then there’s the concern over managing others. As soon as you start hiring, you must inevitably also become a leader. Employees need training and continued support and feedback from you. For business owners, the fear is that the time required to do this will pull them away from the business for too long, having a negative impact on the overall success of the business. However, the whole point of taking on other people is to share some of the load; to allow you to spend more time on the business, rather than in the business. New people also bring new ideas, innovative ways of taking the business forward. In this case, two heads really are better than one!
Clearly growing your business requires some kind of outlay, we’ve all heard the phrase “you’ve got to spend money to make money”. Growth is not solely achieved by taking on more people, sometimes it might require new equipment, new premises or the learning of new skills. All of these things require money and for small businesses, already struggling to keep afloat, growth can seem like an unrealisable ambition. The good news is that there are government operated services (GrowthAccelerator, for example) out there that are providing information and advice to small businesses, without any catch! The government want to support ambitious small-medium businesses because it’s good for them, it helps grow the economy. Of course they’re not going to hand out money to any Tom, Dick or Harry, but if you can show that you are both ambitious and that your business has the potential to achieve high growth, there are options out there for you.
In conclusion then, the decision whether to grow your business or not will ultimately boil down to what it is you want to achieve? Some of the things you might consider are: work/life balance, how you would respond to the challenge of becoming a leader, what would be the consequences of keeping the business the size it is?
If you’re struggling to make this decision or, you already know you want to grow, come along to The Free SME Business Growth Workshop on Thursday 12th February, where you can find out what it takes to grow a small-medium sized business and learn about GrowthAccelerator, part of the government-backed Business Growth Service that supports SME’s in achieving rapid growth (four times faster than normal SME’s).