It might seem like an oxymoron to think of growing or scaling your small business – even as a solopreneur – so that you take a worry-free holiday. But it’s true. The more leveraged your business is, the easier it can be to take a holiday.
When I think back to the early days of starting my independent communications consulting business all those years ago, I had to either turn down work to be able to take a holiday, negotiate timelines with a client to match my holidays, or coordinate my holidays around the clients’ schedule (the most likely scenario).
For many years I did just that. I resigned one client once because their biggest event of the year was during Spring Break – when my kids were off school – I just didn’t want to be working when I could be spending time with my kids. It was a risk, but as soon as the space was empty, another (and even more perfect) client came along to fill it.
As I became more seasoned, I got the courage to subcontract my work to other consultants so I could take a holiday from time to time. This uplevel involved several mind shifts.
Mindset Shifts to Scale Your Business
- Release of control
- Trusting the client and the consultant to stay with me when I returned
- Clarity of thought – to communicate to my client and my sub-contractor
- Communication skills – to do it well!
- Confidence to take action
- Community-building and networking – to find people I trusted to fill in for me while I was gone.
What does it mean to scale your business?
- Operational Efficiency: When you scale your business, you streamline operations and improve efficiency. This means that the day-to-day processes are well-organized and can function smoothly even in your absence. Delegating responsibilities and establishing clear procedures will ensure the business continues to run efficiently while you’re away. These are often referred to as SOPs – or Standard Operating Procedures. Even a solopreneur operation can benefit from standard ways of doing things, resulting in time savings and critical preservation of your brain power. You can benefit from rinsing and repeating many processes and ways of doing them, no matter how short or lengthy the process.
- Trusted and Trained Team: Successfully scaling involves hiring and training a competent team. When you have skilled and trustworthy employees, or subcontractors, you can confidently rely on them to handle tasks and make decisions in your absence. Having a team you can depend on allows you to step back and take time off without constant worry. Of course this takes time, and involves hiring well. Understanding each team member’s personality type through assessments such as KOLBE or Strengths-Finder (and understanding yours) are useful steps when choosing the right fit people.
- Financial Stability: You know the old saying “you have to spend money to make money?” This goes for building your business and scaling that business as well. Scaling often leads to improved financial stability. With steady cash flow and well-managed finances, you can plan for contingencies, ensuring that the business can handle any unexpected challenges during your absence. Financial stability also means you can afford to hire extra staff or invest in tools that further enable your team to function effectively while you’re away. Sure, your bottom line may not see immediate benefit – but thinking of how each of your team can not only pay for themselves in the long-run but also bring more profit for the company is a great way to look at it.
- Clear Communication and Documentation: As noted above, clarity or thorough and clear communication are crucial for both yourself and your team. As you scale, communication becomes even more critical. Ensure that all important information, processes, and decisions are well-documented and accessible to your team. These are often referred to as SOPs or Standard Operating Procedures as mentioned above. This helps prevent misunderstandings and empowers your team to make informed choices while you’re on vacation.
- Automation and Technology: Embracing technology and automation can significantly assist in scaling your business. There are so many cloud-based tools you can use now to work remotely and across time zones, these are invaluable tools to work efficiently. (And allows you to check in from time-to-time as your team learns to function without your day-to-day input.) Implementing tools and systems that also automate repetitive tasks or streamline workflows, requiring less manual intervention when you’re away.
- Customer Service and Relationship Management: Many years ago I started implementing a “summer hours” policy. Just a couple of years ago I started taking a whole month off in the summer. I set my clients up to be partners in this from the outset. My VIP clients know that when they sign up to work with me, I take August off. I simply extend their retainer to accommodate this. I also find many of my clients are happy to take a month off of coaching or business-building as they too want a break. It’s almost as though by my taking a holiday I give them permission to take one too. You can also sub-contract or have team members interface with your clients on your behalf. Building a strong customer support team and maintaining healthy customer relationships will help make this go smoothly.
- Long-Term Planning: Scaling requires strategic long-term planning. A well-thought-out business plan will help you anticipate growth and prepare for it effectively. This will contribute to a stable and sustainable business model that can handle your absence without major disruptions. Know what you’re building! If you have repeatable programs and offerings, it makes it easier to anticipate needs in the business going forward.
What are some common mistakes to avoid when scaling a business?
Some common mistakes to avoid when scaling a business include not having a clear strategy, neglecting customer experience, not creating scalable systems, and failing to analyze and adjust metrics. It’s important to learn from these mistakes and take steps to avoid them.
If you scale your business with careful planning, efficient processes, a skilled team, and strong communication, it can provide you with the peace of mind to enjoy a worry-free holiday. It allows you to step away from day-to-day operations while knowing that your business is in good hands and can continue functioning effectively without your direct involvement. It’s an essential step towards achieving long-term success – and time freedom – as an entrepreneur.
Curious how to take that step towards scaling your business or knowing when’s the right time to take it to that next level? Reach out for a complimentary conversation to explore what might be the right next step for you. Perhaps next year is the first year you can take a worry-free holiday. Let’s start planning for that now.
To your success,
Susan Elford is a Leadership Coach and Business Mentor who especially loves to work with women who want it all: a fulfilling career or business while living a full and satisfying life. Through powerful career coaching and business mentorship to get their career or business to the next level, Susan helps her clients get real about their strengths and celebrate and promote them so they get more of what they want: success at work; success in business & success in life.
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