Thinking to Grow Your Business
business growth

by Angela De Souza

Business owners are usually busy, very busy! In fact, they are so busy that they seldom have time to think.

Each morning presents a long to do list and at the end of each day they exhale, feeling satisfied by all the ticks they have placed next to the many items that were on the list. However, what they often fail to realise is that they are happily running in the hamster wheel of the never ending to do list.

Eventually they will exhaust themselves and never get free from it UNLESS they stop and think. Women are predominantly guilty of feeling guilty. They feel guilty for most things. Women even feel guilty for not working and can even feel guilty for feeling guilty. Taking time to think is classified as work, so business owners don’t need to feel guilty. Thinking time is what separates the self employed from business owners. The self employed will only ever be able to exchange time for money and since they only have twenty four hours in each day like the rest of us, their earning potential is limited to what they can do within these twenty four hours.

Hard Work is Not Enough

Hard work and saving money could earn you a living but smart work and financial investments will build you a legacy. To get ahead start with not filling every minute of every day with only hard work. Stop and THINK – relax and then formulate a plan to work smarter. One hour of thinking each day could turn your business from a small business into a large, successful company. Even one hour of thinking a week could turn things around significantly.

Think about what you are currently doing with your time. Think about where you plan to go with your business. Think about a smarter way to get there. Are you satisfied with exchanging time for money or would you rather that your money worked for you even when you are not even working on your business? Think carefully about ways to achieve that. Take time to ponder on what you really want out of every day of your business and life in general. Dream about what your ideal day, week, month and year can look like. Create a plan that will allow you to begin to live the dream.

Smart Working Principles

Multiply Energy – Piggy Back
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. What is there that already exists that you can use or who do you know that can help you get where you want to be? If you take time to think you will be amazed at what you will discover. Are you using the trending hash tags on Twitter to get your status and posts seen? That is a very basic way to piggy back. Do you network and connect with people in high places? For example, if you are a painter you might be going door to door to offer your services. Why not rather find an established business that does plastering and then collaborate with them - piggy back on the established company and save yourself hours of knocking on doors. Piggy backing could also mean volunteering your services to a larger organisation. You may not directly make any money by volunteering but you could benefit a great deal from the publicity that would result.

Piggy Backing Etiquette
• You must not be competing with them
• You can be aiming for the same target audience but should not get in their way
• You should piggy backing but not be a parasite, give something back

Multiply Time – Other People’s Time
Yes, you can actually make time too by using other people’s time. It doesn’t have to be as selfish as it sounds, you can use other people’s time and still benefit them as well as yourself. For example, ask five really good friends to share your Facebook status – it won’t take them more than a few seconds but you will reach hundreds more people that way, saving you loads of time that you would have spent trying to find and communicate with those new people.

This is the most basic example of other people’s time, but another important key to using other people’s time is to outsource. What can someone else do better or quicker than you? A common cause of businesses failing is when the business owner insists on doing everything all of the time! The problem is that you can only do so much in a day.
Outsourcing is the next step to your business growth. Use other people’s time to get certain jobs done while you focus in what you enjoy and do best. It doesn’t have to be a huge leap of faith either, start by outsourcing one or two hours a week and increase it as your business grows.
Think about what you can outsource and who you should outsource to. Perhaps take on an intern or student. The possibilities are endless, but you will need to put in some thinking time to come up with the right thing that works for you.

Multiply Money – 1 + 1 = 3
The saying, “It takes money to make money” is not entirely true. Well it is and it isn’t. You see, how you get the money to make more money is where most people are tripped up. Most people envisage a huge pot of money that will then guarantee business success. Most businesses that start this way will fail anyway. The reason they fail is because they haven’t had to put in the hard thinking time. When money is easily available, little effort is put into important decisions. Once the money runs out, the business naturally fails. However, those who start with little money are forced to think and be creative with it. It is these habits that are forged in the early days that ensure later success when their money pot has grown. Take time to think about what you have right now and how you can make it grow. Don’t make the excuse that you don’t have any money, you do, and it is enough. Richard Branson didn’t even have money to make a phone call when he started out but that didn’t stop him.

Money Multiplying
• Sell your knowledge – seminars, webinars, workshops.
• Take payment up front – create instant cash flow.
• Collaborate – offer swaps.
• Think, think, think!

There is so much that you are capable of doing and achieving and all it takes is a little thinking time that will prevent you from remaining chained to your never ending to do list.

Business is a lot like Gardening

7 Business Growth Tips

Growing a business can be a lot like gardening - just as messy and just as rewarding. Gardening is not rocket science, if you do the right thing at the right time you will succeed. Business is not rocket science either, if you do the right thing at the right time you will succeed! Here are my fail proof gardening and business growth tips:

1. Planning

If you want to plant anything in your garden you need to start with a clear plan. Take time to study the area that you intend to plant in and take time to study the plant’s needs. Are the plant and the part of the garden that you intend to plant it in a good match? Does the area offer the right conditions to match the plant’s needs? Are there already many plants in the same patch of soil? Are there lots of slugs? These are some of the vital questions that must be well thought out before planting anything! In the same way, if you expect your business to grow you should spend some time researching and planning before you do anything else. If you have already ‘planted’ your business, it is not too late to invest in some planning. Is the area suitable for your business and is your expertise suitable for the people you are aiming to reach? Ice is not going to make a great business in Antarctica! Is there enough 'space' for your business or is the competition already fierce? Overcrowding kills businesses! Make sure you can be better or find something else to do. Each question you ask yourself will force you to create a great plan for your business. Each and every time you work on your business plan you could find new and better ways to encourage business growth. Show me your plan I will tell you where your business is going. Not having a plan means you are going nowhere. It could be nowhere quickly or nowhere over a long period of time but nowhere is the ultimate destination. Would you plant in your garden randomly without considering all the necessary factors? The chances are that the plant will die. Most gardeners make sure that they understand the plant's needs and then plan where to plant based on these specific needs. Drainage, sunshine, water and soil type will significantly affect the growth or death of plants. Write your own metaphor based on these factors and see if it helps in your planning.

2. Preparation

Once you are certain that everything is ready for planting, you begin to execute your plan. The first part of the plan is always preparation! Long before you plan you dig, you water, you add fertilizer or manure and you wait. It might seem pointless, like a waste of time, but in reality the longer you take to prepare the better your crop! Business is no different. Prepare your target audience for your business. Make them excited. Get them ready so that when you announce your new business or your new product or service, they will already want it. Marketing is a huge part of preparation just like digging is for a gardener. Set up at least 20 to 30 different marketing pillars that will underpin your business. Another essential part of preparation is to make sure that all your systems work. There is nothing worse than using something that doesn’t work. You will frustrate your clients. If your business relies on your website, test it and test it and test it again until you are sure that it works the way it should. If your business offers some sort of health benefits, test it repeatedly until you are convinced that your product or service really does work. Dig, prod, refresh or do whatever you need to do to prepare.

3. Planting Seeds

Gardening requires a lot of waiting patiently. After all the hard work and digging is done you get busy with planting. Your word really hard at planting every single seed in the right place and you cover it and then you… wait. Waiting is an essential part of gardening and it is also an essential part of business. Imagine if a gardener planted her seeds and then after one day went back to dig them all up to see if they were growing. If she did that a few times the seeds would die because they have been disturbed too often. Business is no different. It is essential that we plant our seeds through advertising, marketing, word of mouth, social media, press, flyers and so much more. We must plant out seeds but we must also wait. Don’t assume because there is a great deal of silence after all your hard work that your seeds are not growing. They take time to grow. People see your adverts but perhaps don’t need what you have to offer right away. Your marketing is well ‘planted’ but people need to see it a few times before the twig that it is exactly what they need. Many factors could cause your seeds to grow or die but one thing is for sure, you must patiently wait and not be discouraged when you don’t see anything come of all your hard work. In times of discouragement simply look out into a garden and remember how long it takes for those little tiny seeds to form and shoot their tiny little stem up out of the ground. If you can patiently wait then you will reap a great harvest from all your tiny seeds. And while you are waiting, do something else. Work on your bookkeeping or on your admin systems, put a filing system in place or do anything else that will help you manage WHEN your seeds begin to grow.

4. Watering Seeds

Seeds need watering after you have planted them in your garden. That’s a given. Planting without watering would be silly. If seeds aren’t watered consistently they won’t grow, they will die. Business ‘seeds’ need watering too and neglecting to do so is just as silly as not watering seeds in your garden and expecting to see results. Consistency is the key. People need to hear the same thing at least six times before it sinks in. They need to hear, read and see your message several times in various different ways. Eventually they will realise that they need to contact you but only after you have consistently repeated your message to them. Subtly is a key too. Watering your seeds with a pressure hose will just blast them out of the soil and destroy them. A gentle rain like spray is all your need when watering the seeds you have planted in your garden. In the same way, your message needs to be subtle and not a full force sales pitch repeatedly. You will lose people this way. Gently sprinkle your message consistently and in time you will see the little seeds growing and bearing fruit. Pushy sales people usually scare people away. Take time to regularly water your potential clients with an appealing message that will encourage them to do business with you.

5. Protecting and Nurturing

Allowing your tender seedlings to be exposed to the elements will hinder their growth and could even lead to their death. When the seedlings push through the ground and show signs of life they need protecting from the sun, wind, hail, frost, bugs and so much more. Business needs protecting and nurturing too. You simply cannot start a business and leave it, expecting it to grow. Various things are dangerous to business and so it is essential to protect and nurture it. Some threats include money, time and health. It is essential that you make sure that you have enough financial backup to keep you through a difficult month or two. Most importantly, don’t allow yourself to accumulate too many overheads at first. No money equals no more business so a healthy cash flow is essential. Another threat is time! If your time is not managed well you could either burn yourself out or invest too much time in the wrong places and end up killing your business. There are many threats to a small business so including a thorough SWOT analysis in your business plan is essential. Don’t assume that your business is safe, protect and nurture it.

6. Pruning

Pruning is what strengthens and maintains plants. It is a practice involving the selective removal of diseased, damaged, dead and non-productive parts of a plant’s branches, buds, or roots. Reasons for pruning include removing dead parts, shaping (by controlling or directing growth) and increasing the yield or quality of flowers and fruits. Businesses need pruning too if they are to grow into strong, healthy and prosperous businesses. Prune off dead parts of the business, areas that are not producing a good income or are even a drain on the business. Shape the business into precisely what you want it to be. Most importantly, remove damaged or diseased parts of the business, parts that are haemorrhaging money or time or damaging people. One of the biggest mistakes that business owners make is that they feel the need to be the expert at everything. It would be better use of your time to do what you are good at and leave what you do not excel at. If possible leave it entirely but if it is an essential part of your business outsource it to someone who can do it better than you. Cut off people that are bad for business too. Cut off anything at all that is preventing your business from being strong and healthy.

7. Harvesting

Harvesting is hard work but this is also the fun part, the part where all the hard work pays off. If you planted flower seeds then you get to enjoy the beautiful flowers, if you planted vegetables or fruit then you get to eat from your hard work. In business, this is the part where you make your money, you harvest your return. Harvesting is very rewarding but even in the harvesting stage, you still need to focus on the important next steps. After harvesting take time to plan for the next season. Ask for referrals, create an after sales system, focus on customer care and upselling.

Happy gardening!