From its inception until fairly recently, my marketing company could be considered one founded on the principles of solopreneurism. Meaning, one individual handles literally every aspect of the business, from sales and service to accounting and operations. For such a business model to function properly, one must to work extremely long hours and be on call around the clock. This professional choice can definitely dominate many (if not all) other aspects of the solopreneur’s life, so passion and a love of the work is an absolute must. Despite being more of a lifestyle than a standard career choice, those who follow this path are those who are typically tactful individuals who are constantly hungry for growth and long-term, residual rewards.
I know plenty of solopreneurs in the Washington DC area; each are highly skilled in their given industry, with an impeccable mind for business and a killer rolodex. In speaking with many of them recently, there also seems to be a common sentiment amongst us as well; how the hell to we take what we’ve built and make it bigger? After several years of successfully running our respective businesses alone, nailing down the steps for continual and future growth can be tricky.
In the last year, I’ve officially made the transition from one-woman show to a budding business. I added staff members to my company roster, we’re exploring office space options and sales have never been better. No one knows what the future holds, but making a professional jump is always easier with a foundation of careful planning and thought to land on.
IMPORTANCE OF STAYINGRELEVANT & CURRENT
Sure, running (and expanding) a business is time consuming. But don’t forget that part of that requires you to show your face in public once and a while, while also staying on top of current industry trends and best practices. Small business owners looking to take their company into the next tax bracket should consider designating time in their schedule for both or becoming stale is imminent.
BECOME BEST FRIENDS WITHAN ACCOUNTANT & LAWYER
I quickly learned that growing a business not only means an jam-packed work load, but a ridiculous amount of paperwork as well. From changing your tax schedule or business class, the many forms one is required to fill out can stress out even the most relaxed solopreneur. Avoid going through this process alone by having a team of trustworthy professional council assist you. Great accountants and lawyers are worthy of putting on speed dial, as one shouldn’t hesitate to ask questions or utilize these resources when needed.
DEBATE WHAT EXPENSES YOURBUSINESS ACTUALLY NEEDS
If you have or obtain capital, financial responsibility can be awfully difficult to maintain for small business owners. Just because cash is coming in, changing corporate spending habits isn’t suddenly a wise idea. The keys to being profitable at any stage are to budget carefully and spend far below one’s means while closely examining which expenses are absolutely necessary and which are not. I’d much prefer to leave my 8×8 den (crammed with three desks) for upgraded office space inside a swanky Georgetown townhouse, and someday I’m sure I will reach that goal. But for now, the significant amount I save by being a telecommuting business allows me to invest more in my staff, the company and its future growth.
IT TAKES A TRIBEHIRE STAFF YOU TRUST
From first hand experience, solopreneurs tend to try and be their own super hero. Simply put, the thought of entrusting others to do a job (that you could perform in your sleep) on your behalf for a client can be a scary one. So much so that the solopreneur may tend to procrastinate hiring staff, thinking training will be too much of a time cost. The opposite is actually true — if the desire to grow is truly there, hiring hiring people (even on a 1099 basis) is can’t afford not to do. My experience has shown that the time is worth the effort. Not only have they improved their respective crafts quickly, they’re both also always on the lookout for industry trends and new sales opportunities. Always helps to have more sets of eyes and ears, right?
EXPLORE METHODS OFADDITIONAL FUNDING
Since each company is unique, the amount of capital required to sustain and grow will depend on the specific business. Regardless of whether you’ve saved a ton of cash or already have a steady stream of clients or customers, it’s always a good idea to explore additional means of funding during this stage of corporate growth. A quick search on Google or through one’s phone book will provide a wealth of information on small business loans, venture capital firms or other interested parties looking to invest.
NEVER GET COMPLACENT.THE HUSTLE IS CONSTANT.
Taking an impactful step in one’s business is absolutely exciting, reminiscent of the exhilarating emotion felt when you’re first starting a company and finally hit a stride of consistent success. It also makes it all too easy for solopreneurs to become complacent in more ways than one. It is important to continually strive to not be the smartest person in the room and to maintain the same relentless drive that created business success in the first place. There is always room for improvement and fine-tuning, even in the most fine-tuned corporations. Work 24 hours a day like someone is going to take it all away from you — and if you stay hungry enough, they won’t.