Here's a newsflash for you. It's hard work being an entrepreneur. We're not just talking about giving your all in a 9-5 capacity here. If you've got a driving ambition to get your business off the ground, think nights sleeping at the office and early morning Skype calls.
You may look on the likes of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg with envy, but don't forget that Facebook started in a basement. Most entrepreneurs fail at least once on their way up and, at times, it will probably feel as if your hard work isn't paying off.
But like anything in life, practice makes perfect and every attempt at getting it right is a chance to come back stronger, leaner and wiser. It's likely that you'll spend the first few months (or even years) isolating yourself from your friends and family, living and breathing your business.
But once you get to the point where you're ready to grow, you can think about rescinding control. When your business reaches that viable second stage and it's time to hire new people, you're going to have to scale it for growth. How do you do that? Check out these five tips:
1. Work Smarter
One of the biggest barriers that small business owners crash into is themselves. When you spend too long working in your business and not long enough working on your business, it's easy to get dragged into the day to day. Solving routine issues and not seeing the bigger picture.
Carina Cesano, Managing Director of Clear Words Translations, a translation and localization services provider, knows all about the daily struggles of running a small business. She says, "At the beginning, we were wearing many hats. I was translating, answering phones and dealing with customer calls, as well as the hiring. Eventually I learned to step back, strategize and delegate. Things are much smoother now."
Cesano knows that it would have been impossible to take her company to its size today, catering to clients like Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, without learning about efficiency when scaling. So learn to delegate and work smarter instead of harder to avoid getting sucked into the daily issues.
2. Hire The Right People
This might seem like an obvious statement, but if you want to grow your company, then you'll need to hire the right people for growth. Once you reach the stage where you're ready to delegate tasks, your first hires should be passionate all-rounders. People who are able to muck in and rise to any challenge.
Not everyone has what it takes to work in a startup. You can't always offer defined and clear roles in a new and developing company. Hiring the right employees is essential, and early stage employees need to have a wide skillset. Be able (and willing) to handle all kinds of tasks, from customer service and marketing to logistics.
Take Airbnb, for example. They only hired two employees in their first year of business and went on to become one of the largest disrupters around.
Cesano speaks from her experience with Clear Words Translations, reinforcing, "Your next hire shouldn't just fill the current position. They need to have the potential to be leaders and get your business to where you want it to be."
3. Keep Them Happy
It isn't easy hiring employees who can power your company forward with the right mix of passion and commitment. So when you find them, make sure that you keep them happy. You may not be in a position to grant the financial compensation they're hoping for, but there are other important ways to motivate your staff without cash.
Try offering continued, on-the-job training and paying for industry-related courses. Let them know that their position with your company is an exciting one with room for growth and long term stability. Incentives don't always have to be financial. Sometimes the thrill of a challenge and being the first person to tackle a particular problem can be motivational enough.
Granting employees the freedom to mold their positions according to their strengths and skills can be an additional hook. Remember that motivated employees are effective employees, and simple gestures like trust, transparency and purpose can be a powerful combination.
4. Think Big From The Start
The power of visualization in getting what you want is widely documented these days and you should incorporate this practice into your daily routine. Through meditation, affirmations, or simply having a clear idea of what your future business looks like, make sure you think big from the start. And not just think about it, but actually consciously take action.
Surround yourself with the right staff members, mentors and network that can help you align your strategies to becoming bigger. Your long term business goals are crucial. A lot of startups fail due to a lack of long term vision. Create your perfect pitch from the start and you can charm investors on your side if you need their money for growth.
5. Harness The Power of Technology
Your customers are the ones buying your product or service, so it makes sense to use them to crowdsource innovation. Customers will always tell you how you can do your job better, so try actually using that information.
Ask their opinions through your social media channels. Hold trial product launches and offer different versions of your site. Hold A/B testing so you can figure out which of your homepages your customers prefer. Make sure that your customers are on board and that everyone is ready for your company to scale up.
There's always going to be new challenges and opportunities thrown your way as you grow. Sometimes your hiring decisions will disappoint or your largest clients leave. But if you ensure that your company culture is primed, you can scale your business effectively for growth.