How to Streamline Your Business For Growth (Before Hiring a Team)

Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for a while, I’m sure you heard the phrase “don’t work...

How to Streamline Your Business For Growth (Before Hiring a Team)

Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for a while, I’m sure you heard the phrase “don’t work in your business, work on your business.” I always found this to be such an eye-opening perspective on what building a business actually is.

At first, many entrepreneurs are the only ones working for the business so it’s hard not to work “in” the business, that is it’s impossible not to address all the mundane tasks that are required to keep the business going. This isn’t the same as from working “on” the business, which refers to taking steps to grow the business. It’s the difference between focusing on keeping the soup warm rather than making a bigger soup.

Once the foundations are in place it’s important to think about growth. There are different ways growth can manifest in your business. More and more customers might come knocking at your door wanting your products or services, forcing you to work longer hours. Or the profits your business is making might raise the question of investments and where to take your business next. Perhaps it’s your business goals driving growth, or the vision you have as an entrepreneur.  

Whatever the situation, some level of change in how you operate your business will be required to push the business forward. You’ll need to make the switch from working in your business to somehow working on it.

It’s tempting to think that this is the moment you need to hire a team. If you’re a Silicon Valley startup, chances are it is. If you’re a self-employed (online) entrepreneur however, it probably is not.

I know, because I’ve been there. I’d love to tell you I learned the lesson fast and straightened up my act. I didn’t. It took me many years and a lot of money, time, and stress to understand the difference between working in and on my business. But finally I got it. And it changed everything for me.

Before hiring a team there’s one important thing to do first: streamline your business.

The truth is, without systems you don’t have a business – you are the business. It will be almost impossible to delegate effectively, and to let other people work for you. Hiring a team without a plan and clear, documented business systems will do nothing for you except give you more work, more frustrations, and less sleep. Because now you’re not only slaving away for hours on end to keep the business going, you need to find extra time to keep your team at work too.

How to streamline your business for growth?

The magic is in the systems.

Although you cannot automate every aspect of your business, many tasks can be structured, systematized, and put on autopilot. A streamlined business gives you the time and freedom you need to focus on growth instead of maintenance, and allows you to delegate the tasks that can’t be automated in an effective way.

#1 Plan out your business

The first step in streamlining your business is to get clear on what you ultimately want your business to become.

Do you want to keep your business small?
Are you looking to expand and eventually sell your business?
What are your financial goals for your business?
How many employees do you see yourself working with?
By when would you like to achieve your business goals?  

Having a long-term business vision will allow you to get clear on your short and medium term goals. It will help you create a sales and marketing strategy, decide on what products or services to develop, the amount of new customers you need to acquire and so on.

#2 Structure, systematize and automate your business

Once the plan is in place you can start looking at how your business operates. For each business department (sales, marketing, administration, accounting, production, research and development, …) create systems by mapping out how things are done.

For instance, how are clients onboarded in your business?

Every business owner should know the answer to this question. To figure it out, map out all the steps you’re currently taking when a new client signs up with you. This is your client onboarding system.

Now that you have the system you can structure it. Make the steps repeatable so someone else can do this task instead of you. Where needed make sure to finetune the system. If you’re sending out the same email to all your new clients but you’re still typing it from memory every single time, that email needs to be stored as easily accessible template.

By looking at your business tasks as systems you’ll be able to do something else that will make your life so much easier as well: automate. I talked about automation last week when I listed 7 ways to simplify your business for success. There are so many apps that can take over parts of our business systems, and if set-up correctly, do an amazing job for us. Look at your business systems with automation in mind. What parts of the system can apps take over for you?

Once the above is done, you’re ready to hire a team. But not sooner. If you’re in a hurry to build a team, make sure to have at least your most important business systems mapped out and structured before you take anyone on board.

Your team will be grateful for the clarity, and you’ll have so much more time to focus on what really matters to you and makes a difference for your business.


Featured image by rawpixel (Unsplash)

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