You’re established—but is your company everything it could be? These two strategies will help you keep growing.
As an established entrepreneur, you’ve spent years overcoming all the odds and proving that your business model works. Your company is profitable, sustainable and fills a need. You have poured your heart, soul and personal finances into this endeavor to get it to this point … but now what?
First, the good news. Some of the heaviest lifting of being an entrepreneur is behind you: loads of sweat equity, ultra-high risk, crazy long hours and delayed compensation. But now is not the time to rest on your laurels. Now you want growth, and you want scale. You want to ensure that your business will go the distance and perhaps provide you a legacy.
But just how do you get to that next level? How do you leverage the initial success you’ve had into something sustainable for the long-term? Careful now—this is where many entrepreneurs trip.
There have been tons of books and articles written on this subject, but two compelling ideas can be difference-makers: mentoring and strategic planning. These two concepts can make or break your ability to elevate your business to that next level.
First up is the idea of mentoring—or, more specifically, your openness to being mentored. You may now be a seasoned entrepreneur, but you certainly don’t know all there is to know about running a business. As a business grows, so do the challenges.
Every entrepreneur needs a support network, and that doesn’t just mean a banker, a lawyer and an accountant. You need someone who has seen and done it all, and is willing to share that knowledge and expertise with you. You need a mentor. And for entrepreneurs, sometimes we have to swallow our pride just a bit to acknowledge that fact.
Good mentors are part adviser, part psychologist and part friend. They make you a better leader, a better manager and a better entrepreneur. They help hold you accountable to the things you know you need to do to get your business to that next level.
There are several ways to find a good mentor. You may already know people in your own social network—a veteran business owner or top-level executive—that fit the bill and might be willing. But more often, an entrepreneur needs help finding the proper match. Fortunately, in Kansas City, there are resources that can help, including the Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program, SCORE and others. Find a good mentor, and you are a step closer to setting the stage for your next growth spurt.
Mention the words “strategic plan” to most entrepreneurs and visions of a three-inch-thick document gathering dust on a shelf jump to mind. Strategic planning need not be so static and long-winded. In fact, when done right, strategic plans are very dynamic and surprisingly simple.
Carve out time to work on your business rather than in it. Take a step back from the daily rush, and analyze your company from arm’s length. You must review your business on a continuum from different angles and timelines, including a SWOT analysis. Ask yourself what your core values are, and define your purpose. Use that knowledge to set goals, develop initiatives and assign action steps
A good strategic plan creates a road map for you and your employees to follow. My strategic plan is posted on one sheet of 11-by-17-inch paper and hangs above my desk as a continual reminder and reference for where I want to go. I ask the same of all my employees. It may be the ultimate cliché, but businesses that fail to plan are planning to fail.
Two of the best books on this subject are Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish and The 1 Hour Plan for Growth by Joe Calhoon. Both are quick reads, and both will get you jump-started in strategic planning.
The more I learn about other people’s businesses, the more I am convinced that all businesses are really the same. Not in terms of their proprietary knowledge, product or service, but about the pure mechanics and challenges of running a business. In all instances, mentoring and strategic planning tend to be fundamental building blocks for long-term success. Give both a chance to work their magic for you and your business.