By Les Kollegian, an EO San Diego member and CEO/CCO of Jacob Tyler
Your company’s growth can sometimes seem like controlled chaos. Add a consultant here, subtract a client there, divide up this budget and hope for the best. The numbing reality is that the choices we make, more often than not, provide us with different outcomes than anticipated. In my web design firm, we’ve been down the rabbit hole and been forced to choose between the proverbial “red and green pill.” Through our success and failures, we’ve stumbled upon fundamental lessons in growing our business. These are what we learned over the years.
1. Make sure your hire is the perfect fit
Most small businesses suffer from the “chicken/egg” syndrome. You don’t have the money to hire until you have the project set and when you finally have the project and the money, you don’t have the staff to support the client. What do you do? Some companies are prone to making quick hiring decisions. I won’t say that this never works out, but many times, the person you hire, because you’re in a rush, isn’t the perfect fit for the position you’re trying to fill.
Before moving forward on the next hire, thoroughly interview and be patient for the perfect person to come through your door.
2. Invest in quality employees
The common denominator with most start-ups and small businesses is lack of cash flow. Sometimes this can be a recipe for a hiring disaster because your inclination is to bring on a junior-level person with little experience because you can get them at the perfect price. Well, you get what you pay for.
It’s important to consider the cost savings not only for the cost of work, but the cost of time with management, revisions and other items. In order to grow your business, companies need to be doing what they do best, and that does not consist of spending the majority of the day teaching or fixing unnecessary issues.
So what does that mean? Invest in your brand. Your people not only represent your company, but they produce for your company and are the face of your company. Your people are your brand, so don’t skimp on the quality of employees you hire.
3. Focus on your core strengths
Mastering your core strength will enable you to be recognized as an expert in your field and help you build your business brand. Be the best at a few concentrated activities and stay focused on investing in those strengths.
Furthermore, one of the core strengths of your company can and should be innovation. How are you providing your clients with new value? How are you pursuing the next big thing? Make connections and listen to what your clients want and learn how to better serve them through innovation.
4. Your brand is important
Most small business owners don’t realize how important their brand is to the success of their business. If your current or potential customers don’t perceive you as the best at what you do, your business will have a more difficult time growing. In addition, you will have a more challenging time attracting the talent you need to build your team.
Whenever possible, reflect on your brand. Uncover ways you can improve your brand and be humble enough to take action.
5. Market your abilities and invest in yourself
The old saying goes, “The cobbler’s children have no shoes.” Much like the cobbler, small business owners often become so busy dealing with customers, projects, and the day-to-day minutia of running their company that they completely forget about taking care of themselves and their family, which in this case is the business.
Building your brand and business requires that you market your abilities and invest in yourself.
6. Trust your instincts
There have been times when we’ve taken on a client and it wasn’t worth the money. Our instincts told us that it would be more of a headache, but we gave it a try anyway. Those relationships didn’t work out and was just confirmation that we should have listened to our gut. We have instincts in business and business owners let them slip because they think they might be wrong.
We’ve learned many lessons over the years that have shaped who we are today as a company. While making mistakes and learning from them is all part of the process, if companies have a set of guiding principles, it will allow them to focus more on the company’s success and moving forward.
Les Kollegian is the CEO at Jacob Tyler, an award-winning, full-service, brand communications agency that specializes in brand development, print collateral, web design, web development, product design and online marketing. You may contact Les at firstname.lastname@example.org.