When we think about small businesses and their road to success, we liken it to that of parenting. Parents are synonymous with Entrepreneurs; who often see their business as their “baby”! They embark on the journey of raising this “baby”, and the lessons along the way can become their very recipe to their success.
The process to “birth” a business is often times challenging, exciting, tiring, and fulfilling. This is the time that you begin to plan, you get everything you need and start making big plans for your “baby”. You are intentional about every decision…what you will name this child, who will you allow around the child, who you would like to parent this child, should you not be able to (God Parents). You begin to think about all this child will be. You see them “winning” at all times. From the moment of birth, you are are consumed with this “baby”; and regardless on how you arrived at being a “parent” to this new “baby”…you have vowed to love it more than anything! You are willing to protect, defend, nature, and sacrifice for it. You are willing to give from the inner most parts of you. You are willing to embrace the new challenge that lies ahead, good, bad, or indifferent…you are a “parent” now. Whether you are parenting with a “partner” or alone the weight of the responsibility to parent is heavy.
In your new role, even your name has changed, you are now known as “MOM” or “DAD” or ” (blanks) parent”. Your identity is slowing changing to that of “Parent”, and you are becoming okay with that! You have to acquire new skills, you begin to acquire “like minded” friends, you build your support system, and you go at your new tasks “one day at a time”. You realized very early on that you will need an extra dose of patience, endurance, and even rest! You may have become “protective” to the point that you are watching and directing even your closest friends and family on how to care for and respond to your “baby” needs. You may even be known as a “helicopter” parent. As you go through the stages of parenting this child, you can’t image life with out him/her.
You have been there from the very beginning, you have cared for them when they couldn’t care for themselves, you have given them love, attention, and admiration. You have taught them valuable life lessons and have been their biggest support. From infancy, to toddler, to child, to pre teen/teenager, to young adult, and finally an adult; each stage requires something different from you as a “parent”. You have always simply “been there” at each stage building off of the previous stages’ building blocks.
Businesses are like children; they are meant to be nurtured, cared for, given attention, and raised to continue on their own! As a Small Business Owner (SBO), you want the best for your business, you want it to be successful and one day be able to continue on its own!
Many SBO’s struggle because they haven’t thought about their business growing and not being their “baby” anymore. They haven’t embraced their business development stages, they are focus on generating revenue and missing the building blocks for sustainbility. SBO’s need to consider stages of business development, building their team, networking with strategic partners with shared mission, and growth opportunities.
Some tips for SBO’s:
- Understanding developmental stages!- In the beginning (infancy stage) you may have to do it all! It will take the best of your time and energy. This is the stage to fine tune your services; find your niche. In toddler stage (3-5yrs) stabilize your strategies, customers, and processes. In young child stage (6-9yrs) build out your team, systems, and services. Next, in preteen/teen stage (10-17yrs)-your business will require something different from you! This is the make or break stage- you have to begin to think about your services, are they keeping up with the times, are there strategic partnership to be made, etc. In the young adult and adult stages (18yrs+) your business is maturing, you are beginning to generate steady revenue and could even begin to consider selling or acquiring other business ventures. It is important to not get ahead of the time, be patient in all stages. Embrace the stage you are in taking the wins with the opportunities.
- Build your team!- many SBO’s believe since they know their business well, they are the best one for the job; so not true. Be okay “knowing what you don’t know”; find the experts in their fields and expertise. Find the talent who will be able to operate your vision and perform their task according to their skills set and job parameters. You may not be able to compensate them for what they are worth or add them to payroll right away; but consider other methods of “compensation” including bartering or paying some of their expenses!
- Build your village!-Networking can work well if done correctly. Some SBO’s believe they have to be present at ANY networking opportunity provided because “you never know who you are going to meet”. This is a myth and can be draining, costly, and time consuming. There is a strategic approach to networking or what we like to call “building your village”. When attempting to network, study the person’s/organization goal and mission; only enter into business relationships with people or organizations with like missions/vision. Don’t create a “net” that doesn’t “work”! What’s the point of knowing all these people/organizations, and you can’t create any “work” together.
- Growth opportunities- As the CEO, it is very important to consider other growth opportunities. Is there an opportunity for an acquisition, merger, or even sell! Remember, you want what’s best for your business for sustainability, not whats convenient for you. However, based on the values and services of your business, the road to growth opportunities can be a beautiful one. (Just think, how may “children” come back and “take care of their parents”.)
So SBO’s be bold and “parent” on; one day at a time!