By Bryan Orr
We all want to take our small business to the next level. We want growth.
The key to taking your business and going forward with it is adaptability; the ability to change tactics as you grow. For example, when I first opened the doors of my business in the summer of 2005, my office was my work van and I had a cell phone and clipboard to receive calls, track the jobs, and then go out and run the calls. I was the CEO, the receptionist and the service technician all in one. It was just the beginning, and there was not yet enough cash flow to have an office, a receptionist and high-end technology. It’s important to be flexible. If the overhead of convenient office space, etc., is too much for you at the time, wait on it.
You have to be willing to get your hands dirty and do whatever it takes for however long it takes to make things work, watching for the right time to change tactics and taking the next leap. As our customer base grew, I realized that in order to serve my current customers as well as take on more, I had to make some changes. Over the course of a few years the cell phone and clipboard was replaced with our own custom-built customer relationship management system that integrated with our company’s website and we moved into an office building.
When starting up a business sometimes we have this dream that we’ll be so busy and the business will take off like a rocket. The reality is that it usually takes time and we’re often sitting back and waiting for things to happen. Don’t expect people to come pouring in. You’ve got to get out there; find them. This is a great opportunity to genuinely invest in your customers by seeing and valuing each and every individual. No matter who they are or how many you have, each one of them matters to you.
Paul Graham at Y Combinator often talks about doing things early on that don’t scale. He stated it well when he said: “Recruit customers manually and give them an overwhelmingly good experience.”
Investing in your customers from day one will serve you long term. Take the time and do that. Narrow your focus to who your specific market is and remember that people don’t always know what they want or need in a product or service. Be that one to fill in that void that wasn’t necessarily felt, but by all means KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER.
Well-known author and online entrepreneur, Jeff Goins said:
People that are pushing culture forward and are innovating, aren’t just asking what people want are they? They’re saying ‘What do people need? How can we create things that people don’t yet know they need, but when they see it they go, ‘Wow! I really need that.’
One of the more difficult realities when starting and/or running any business is the tension of dreaming big and simultaneously doing the non-glamorous tasks of running your business. You have to break it down to menial tasks that may not be much fun, but they have to get done. Force yourself to do them well while keeping in mind the bigger goal.
Be passionate, adaptable, get dirty, stay focused and in time you’ll see your business go from good to great on a timeline that is healthy and profitable.