It’s easy for business owners to become overwhelmed by the prospect of scaling their businesses; I can’t be the first to dream of duplicating myself in hopes of accomplishing more in less time.
But while you may not have the money, time, or energy to grow in size, you can grow in profit and still have a life. Here’s how:
Many Fortune 100 companies such as Apple, Disney, HP, Mattel, and Google started from humble beginnings in a garage, and while the size and scope of what these companies have become since then is impressive, sometimes the complications that come with growth are actually a detriment to success.
Pets.com is a good example of this: While they had a great idea, the company failed because they grew too fast. After initial success in 1998, Pets.com expanded by opening warehouses all over the country. They went bust in just two years. They built a great brand, mainly with the sock puppet commercials you may remember, and while people liked the ads, Pets.com spent millions of dollars on building a company with an offering no one wanted.
For many small businesses, growing in size is a distraction. Because I value my free time and wanted balance in my life, I chose to grow in terms of profit instead. With a team of just five, I’ve gone from $500,000 to $1.5 million in annual revenue just by adding technology and new offerings. I’ve updated the value of what I sell, rather than the quantity. You can increase your profits without having to increase your payroll, your overhead, or your stress level, and still enjoy the lifestyle that running a small business allows.
Some companies are actually better off embracing their smallness, staying managed by a single founder, and trusting just a handful of loyal workers. With this model, you’re able to easily manage quality control, build strong relationships with clients, and focus on bringing new products and services to market; and all of this attracts more prospects to become new clients.
One common worry though is that, if you’re not always expanding, your company stands a greater risk of being taken out by competitors who are. This isn’t the case if your value remains high, if your quality of customer service is second to none, and if your smallness allows you to pay attention to detail. While others may be growing in size, you can focus on creating new products, programs, and services that match what prospects and clients are telling you they want and are willing to pay for.
So, how do you stay "in the garage" and not get stuck in a time warp? By reinventing yourself, innovating, and creating the next evolution of your products and services to keep up with the demand of the ever-changing marketplace. The secret to staying competitive is not necessarily in growing your business in the traditional sense, but in using technology to innovate.
In 2002, I started BlitzMasters, a lead-generation and revenue development company. In the beginning, it was just me and a single sales training program called, The Blitz Experience; now, intentionally staying small in size, I have a team of five people but offer multiple programs to meet the changing needs of my clients. I’ve also added technology that allows us to use one trainer for many clients, whereas before, we could only do a ratio of one trainer to one client. Now, because of the technology I’ve implemented, instead of a single transaction of what was often $5,000, I’ve increased not only the number of transactions I can do at a time, but also the price. Now, a single transaction can amount to as much as $250,000.
Here’s an even juicier example of how implementing the latest in tech can grow your revenue. I’ve recently added a new on-demand program, a cloud-based, highly interactive, online workshop that anyone in the world can use anytime they want. It doesn’t even require a live trainer to be involved, and I didn’t need to hire a single new employee to do it.
If you want to grow your business without the headache and stress of growing your payroll, first talk to your clients to find out exactly what they’re looking for, then reach out to web developers and inquire about turning your content into an interactive web-based tool. It’s easier and cheaper than you might think. Maybe technology has afforded us the ability to clone ourselves after all.
—Andrea Sittig-Rolf is the sales host for HP/Microsoft's "Coffee Coaching" channel on YouTube, and the developer and exclusive provider of The Blitz Experience as well as the creator of Blitz onDemand, an online corporate sales training program.
[Image: Flickr user Chris Potter]