“Juliana, my business is like my baby!!!” I hear so many friends, colleagues and clients say to me.
But then, when it comes to opening that wallet and buying that baby toys (electronics), learning tools (professional development) play date activities (networking/conferences) or diapers (because you know, S**t happens), all of a sudden there’s a million things more important than “the baby”. “I don’t have the money right now” “I can do it myself” “Is it really worth it” “I would love to, but …” Hmmmm. I know, I know – sometimes there isn’t enough cash-flow for toys and diapers. But let us help you in making the decision on things you should not skimp on — especially when there is cash flow and you are ready (or your baby business is throwing a tantrum because it really needs it).
First: The diapers
You have to protect yourself from unwanted messes. For many reasons people do not register their companies right away. You should, so that you can protect your personal assets. If for whatever reason you are not ready to take the leap and register the business, you should at least have a service agreement and a contractor agreement.
- The service agreement protects you from your clients doing crazy stuff or potentially not paying half way through a project. I heard a story last week of an architecture firm that did not have the right contracts in place and not only did the client not pay, the architects had to finish the project and then pay the client for the work done. Do not let that be you.
- The contractor agreement prevents you from your regular service providers or contractors from potentially taking advantage of you or not complying with work that is supposed to be done.
The main reason small businesses fail in the US is that they do not have enough sales. Whether you are starting up or have been open for 10+ years, the investment in business growth is imperative. If you are bootstrapping or in survival mode, dedicate some budget for networking – hit the streets and hustle. If you know how much a dedicated and amazing sales rep costs (ALOT – BUT SO WORTH IT) and your business can afford it, do it.
Would you let that baby do whatever it wants whenever it wanted? No! Neither should your business. Whether its:
- Digital – from managing your inbox to connecting your several workstations to a wireless server
- Spacial – are you working on the dining room table? is your inventory a muck?
- Organizational – employee sizes big and small should be leveraging everyones strengths and weaknesses, “I can do everything” is not the answer and neither is “all hands on deck,” but no one knows what’s going on
- Operations – having efficiency increases your capacity and your ability to sell more
Everyone is so excited about social media and digital marketing and seo — you know, the sexy stuff. Many people forget all those things point to a website. If your website sucks you won’t be able to seal the deal. It’s like wearing a beautiful gown with granny underwear, you can’t do it. You shouldn’t. Your website is your 24 hours sales person, treat it well. You don’t need anything overly complicated:
- Your info
- Nice design
- Call to action buttons ( because you want your clients to contact, call, or most importantly, buy).
- And make sure it is responsive, so that anyone, anywhere, on any mobile can view it without squinting and irritation.
HEEEEELP!!!! I’m drowning and I can’t come up for air!
I love it when people are soooo proud because they can do it all. Chances are you are not doing it all, and there are things slipping. Worst of all, is that no matter the facade, your colleagues, your vendors, your loved ones and worst of all your clients, can tell. Business owners wearing 20 hats are surely to burn out quickly.
“But Juliana, I’m just starting … I can’t afford it”
You can’t sacrifice X bottles of wine to get you 4 hours of admin help or a bookkeeper? (Replace wine with your favorite vice).
- Would you tell your baby when it’s kicking and screaming, that you are not willing to show it the love it deserves?
- Take out the calculator and figure out which task or tasks are:
- a) driving you the most crazy b) you are not good at c) you really need d) could help your business the most or e) all of the above and how much it is going to cost you.
- Then figure out how much money you can make if you spent that time producing and selling.
- And lastly, make the sacrifice.
Now I have a quick question for you: Have you ever passed up an opportunity to invest something in your business that you know would have improved on it? and Why? Share your story in the comments.