Do you know what phase of business you’re in? Knowing what phase you’re in will give you clarity on what you need to focus on in your day to day, where you need to spend your time and what your next step is going to be.
Getting Clear On Why You Started and Where You Want To Go
We all start businesses for different reasons. Some of us start out of necessity. You couldn’t find employment. Maybe you were in a corporation and you had a baby and you decided to not go back after maternity leave so you started your own business. Maybe you saw an opportunity in the marketplace and that led you to start. Perhaps you got into a family business and that was just always the plan. For many of us, who may have started out in a normal job, we realized that there was a ceiling to the kind of income that we could make and we knew that having our own business would mean there is no ceiling. We could earn what we want to earn.
For all of us however, there is this desire to have more flexibility in our schedules. To make a contribution outside ourselves. To earn more and be financially free.
I remember when I started my first business, I didn’t really have a plan, I was just eager to earn some extra money. And when I look at where I started when I went into entrepreneurship full time, the vision I had for myself on this journey and the driving force behind my business was a lot different then than what it is today.
From working with dozens of women entrepreneurs, I have learned that the majority of us Don’t question in the beginning where we want to take this business. Whether we want to grow a lifestyle business or a company that dominates a specific industry. Like the Apples and Goggles of this world.
A couple of years ago I was doing what my coach refers to as a 3 year plan. And during that exercise she asked us to define for ourselves what we would like our business to be. To paint a picture of what it would look like if this business was done.
No of course, you business is never going to be done, right, it’s dynamic and ever evolving. Always shifting. What she was asking us to do was to question what we wanted. Where we saw our business in relation to ourselves and the life we wanted to create.
When I started painting that picture for me I realised I want a business that would support the life I want to live. I didn’t want to manage 100 people. I didn’t want everything that came with having a massive company. I wanted to build a lean business (small amazing team of people) that makes a lot of profit with cash in the bank. So that I can support the kind of life I want. Many big companies out there have millions in revenue but their profit margins are so low and they struggle with cashflow.
I also knew that I did want a small team of 2 or 3 people who would help me with very specific pieces inside my business. 2 or 3 people who are extremely good at what they do and who I love working with. But that I still wanted to be part of the business. I didn’t want to build a business that I would sell eventually. I want to make a huge impact in my country. I want to touch the lives of 100 women every year. I want to work with them side by side. As a partner on their journey. That’s the business I want. The picture I see for my business is a small business with big impact. Both in my life and the lives of those who work with me
Now the beauty of painting this picture for yourself is that you are going to discover exactly what you want. Now of course, what you want might change in the future. But getting clear on this brings so much relief, it dissipates so much of the spinning in indecision that we so often find ourselves in as business owners. The best thing about knowing where I wanted to go for the next 5 to 10 years is that it gave me direction. It made making decisions in my business much less stressful.
I also found that I wasn’t comparing myself so much with those industryu giants. Because that’s not what I wanted. I wanted to be something different. So all of a sudden I didn’t feel this pressure to be something and someone. I could look at them and be inspired, learn form them and apply what I learned to my business without felling the need to push and hustle.
I recently had a discussion with my client Margie, (shoutout to Margie if you’re listening to this episode). Margie is an energy healer. She helps people in fascinating ways. And she has such a passion for her work. When we first started working together I asked her where she wanted to go with this business. And it was very clear for her. She didn’t want to build a big business. She wanted something that would allow her to practice the gifts that she has, to help people, and to earn a decent amount of money. She also knew that she wanted to still have time to go to yoga, have tea with her friends on a thursday afternoon. She wanted space to write her next book, and to go deeper into the subjects that fascinate her. Knowing this gives her amazing clarity about what to say yes to and what not. Where to focus her attention and what to let go of.
What is the vision you see for your business? Do you see a big company that has employees and you’re making a global impact? Do you see a lifestyle business that allows you to make good money while traveling a lot with your family. Is this business the source of income for your family or is it supplementing income. Know what you want your business to be. Spend some time to paint this picture for yourself. Only you know the answer to this.
I would love to know what your vision is. Find me on Instagram @ilonkarascoaching and send me DM.
The Phase Of Business You’re In
Phase 1: Operate
Once you know where you want to take this business. It’s time to get clear on exactly where you are so you know what your next step is.
Knowing what phase of business you’re in will help you see what structures you need to have in place so that your business can achieve that dream that you have for it.
When we start out in business, we’re usually the one doing all the things. We’re the marketer and the sales person, we’re the bookkeeper, the one who delivers on the service. We’re wearing all the hats, right?
This is the first phase of business and everyone starts here (unless you started out with the intention of building a big business and you knew immediately that you needed help).
Regardless of what you vision is for your business you don’t want to stay in this phase. Because this is where you’re business’ survival is 100% dependent on you. You cannot be sick, you cannot really go on vacation, you cannot step away from your business even for a short time because if you’re not the one doing all the things then it doesn’t happen.
Phase 2: Delegate
You want to get yourself out of phase one and into phase 2 and beyond as soon as possible because when you stay in phase one, your business is an extension of you. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. There are no breaks. When life happens the business suffers. There is a lot of pressure if you stay in this phase and this is usually the phase most of my clients find themselves in when they come to me for coaching, because they are exhausted and they recognise that this business is taking all of their energy and time and that it’s not a sustainable way of going forward.
The next phase you want to move into is The Delegator phase. This is where you either hire help or outsource or automate certain tasks in your business so that you can free yourself up a bit. Everything isn’t hinging on YOU doing it. If you’re hiring you would probably bring in someone who is more of a generalist. They help you by taking things off your plate. When you hire you want to bring someone in who is more organised than you are, who enjoys doing the things you don’t enjoy doing. You’re giving them those tasks and activities that take you out of your zone of genius.
Depending on the kind of business you’re in as well as the vision you have for your business, you might not want to hire but rather outsource certain tasks and activities to someone who is good at that thing.
You could also use the power of automating those tasks and activities that you’re always doing manually.
The focus in this phase is to untie yourself from the mundane tasks in your business so you can focus on the more important tasks and activities that will drive the business forward. It’s also to bring in some structure so that you’re building your business on a strong foundation that will make reaching your goals easier.
Phase 3: Manage
As we grow and implement in phase two there is a natural progression where we bring in specific experts to help with or take over those tasks that we’re not experts in. We may be doing them well but when we get a specialist on board it adds fuel to the fire and it gets done with exponentially more skill.
Phase 3 is where you move from The Delegator to The Manager. You outsource specific tasks to a specialist of you add a specialist to your team. An example could be hiring someone who does your social media, perhaps more specifically someone who can help you grow on LinkedIn, or Instagram. Outsourcing video editing.
You’re the one managing the specialists, the experts to all work towards the vision you have.
Phase 4: Own
The next phase is to untie yourself completely from the day to day of the business and have the necessary structure, resources, and skills in place so that the business runs like clockwork even if you’re not there 100% of the time. It doesn’t mean that you’re not involved, your focus is different. It’s on growing, leading, innovating. Your attention is on the highest activities in the business. You’re spending all your time on the activities that propel the business forward and that also light you up.
The mistake we make is we think that being an owner automatically translates into running a big company with many employees and fancy offices somewhere in Sandton. But this is not true. Stepping into the role of the business owner is understanding that you are not the business and you don’t want to be because you cannot get the freedom, flezxibility or financial independence if you’re the one on the ground hustling to get it all done. If you stay in phase 1 you’re adding a ceiling to where you can go. You’re putting yourself in a box.
Phase one isn’t sustainable. You might not want to remove yourself from your business entirely. You might not want to sell it some day. But if you want to have a business that can run alongside your life, that fuels your life, you need to get yourself into phase 4. What phase four looks like for your specific business will be unique to your vision, right. But if you don’t get to the place where you operate as the owner of the business rather than the one doing all the things then you will never really be free.
Two Things You Need To Jump Out Of Phase One
There are two things you need in order to jump out of phase one into phase 2 and beyond.
Shifting is a mindset. Thinking like someone who is self-employed and doing all the things - being the operator in their business to being the owner or entrepreneur. The way you jump from phase one into phase 2 and beyond is by shifting your mindset from being the doer of all the things, to being the business owner. The leader of your business.
This shift only happens when you value your time and you believe that you can go further, faster, when you have help.
The second thing you need is to have the right systems and processes in place so that the business has the support structure to run like a well-oiled machine. Most small businesses don’t have the right systems in place. They cringe when they hear the word system because it sounds so boring and tedious.
Having systems create consistency. It serves as an indicator for where things aren’t working and exactly where to look to fix them. It becomes the foundation on which you grow so that the growth you experience doesn’t hurt the business. You might think this isn’t possible but if you don’t have structure in place but you grow you start dropping balls because you cannot serve your clients efficiently.
You might be thinking that your business isn’t big enough yet to justify the work that you think goes into getting systems in place but I have seen it time and time again. The business owners that come to me for help who have been in it for 10-15 years are the ones whos struggle the most because they have a lot of bad habits they need to break. It’s never to early or too late for that matter to implement systems.
I help my clients to implement four types of systems into their business:
A system for getting visible to their ideal clients - a Visibility/Attraction System.
A system for converting your audience into paying clients - a Sales System.
A system for delivering quality service efficiently - Delivery System
A system for managing your money - Cash System
The work isn’t hard. It might not be what you’re used to doing but once you have these systems in place you and your business will be in a place where you are actually leveraging time. Things happen faster and with less effort than ever before. The structure actually creates freedom.
If you’re listening and you’re thinking “oohh this sounds amazing!”, “I want that freedom.”, “I want that lean business that makes a big impact.” Then let’s meet on a consultation and talk about how I can help you get there.
We’ll meet for one hour via Zoom where you and I will get clear on what you want your business to look like. We will unravel the things that are stopping you right now from making that business a reality and we will create a plan of action to get you there. I will share my process with you and if it makes sense for you and your business you can decide whether you want to have me as your coach for the next 12 months to help you implement the plan.
And if you’re thinking that it’s the end of the year and you will rather wait until January. I want to offer you this:
There is nothing magical about January. The same challenges you have right now will go with you into the new year. Unless you decide to act now. Now is the only place where we can create change.
Let’s have the conversation. And let’s use the time we have left to start the shift. To start laying the groundwork that will set the foundation for the growth and expansion your business and you will experience over the next 12 months.
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