Make Mine to Grow: Building Your Solo Business to Outgrow You!


Many solo entrepreneurs choose to curtail their businesses
growth for the purpose of lifestyle. Others have visions of
expansion right from the start. Being the only person in a
business, wearing all of the hats, is just a stepping stone
to increased prosperity. What steps can you take if you plan
to expand your business some day?

Right from the beginning, develop a business plan and
marketing plan. Think of them as road maps to where you want
to go with the business and directions on how to get there.
They provide the foundation for the future success of your
business. Although it may seem like a daunting process
before you start, creating snapshots of the most important
elements of your business is priceless.

The critical component in preparing your business to grow
is to make a habit of developing documented and well
organized systems. If you use the same documents regularly,
turn them into templates to use repeatedly. Better yet,
have them turned into Microsoft Word forms you can fill out
quickly on the computer. Take the time to write important
documents like policy or privacy statements, and save a copy
on your computer hard drive and a printed copy in a book.
One of the best ways to formalize and organize your business
is to get a large 3 ring binder, buy some page protectors,
and start creating a corporate book. It might seem like
overkill now while you are “it,” but will be extremely
useful when you bring on your first employee.

In this corporate book, you can store contract templates,
forms, terms of service, government certificates such as
your DBA statement – plus anything else that supports the
past, present and future of your business. Keep a copy of
your business and marketing plan there as well.

As you develop the business, keep a Word document handy on
your desktop called “Standard Operating Procedures.” Every
time you find yourself doing something repetitive, or
routine, pop open the document and jot down some notes
about what it is and how you did it. You can flesh the
details out later, but when the time comes to off load some
of the tedium of running your business to someone else, you
will have a terrific starting point for which “hats”
someone else can wear. Your first new employee will be able
to quickly get up to speed and provide the same level of
service you have been providing, armed with a document
like this.

Take the time to set up a good business accounting system
like Quick Books Pro or Quicken. When you are using this or
any other software system, pretend at all times that someone
else must see what you are doing and understand it. Do not
use abbreviations or acronyms without explaining what they
mean, since whoever takes over this system might not have
any idea what you were saying. When faced with doing
something very quickly or taking the extra moment to
document the transaction with a note of some sort, take
that opportunity to leave a trail for anyone who might
take on this duty for you later.

Set up a “creative” system as well, for any design or
branding information. It could be a directory on your hard
drive that is backed up regularly, or a folder in your
drawer – as long as its all together. Save everything that
has to do with the image and marketing of your business in
one place – original logo, artwork, ads you have run, fonts,
and colors that are used for a consistent identity. Having
this information organized will not only give you the
ability to quickly market your business with a consistent
brand, but will also provide the beginnings of a corporate
identity program that can be shared with future employees
and vendors.

It is critical to any business that you do regular backups,
have a disaster recovery plan, and have assessed any threats
to your business information and that of your clients. As
you set up these systems, do it in a way that also adds a
sense of history. For example, if you back up weekly, store
all of these backups somewhere with dates and specifics
written on them, in case you ever need to return to that
time period for any reason.

When the time comes to consider growing your business
beyond yourself, review the documents you’ve developed,
and make a list of the tasks you could probably delegate
to someone else. There are many ways you can test the
waters of growth. You might want to try hiring a temporary
assistant or a part time virtual assistant. You should
also consider what you can best bring to the business, and
which areas you might want someone else to handle. Then
consider outsourcing aspects of your business to another
independent professional. In whatever direction you decide
to growHealth Fitness Articles, you will have already created a strong foundation
on which to build.

Eileen ‘Turtle’ Parzek (c) 2003 All Rights Reserved