The Business Reproductive System (Or How To Grow Your Business Without Losing Its Personality)
At the heart of a small business is the business owner, and their personality, values and relationships. People do business with a person, not a business. In most cases it is because of the business owner that customers have made the choice to spend their money with a particular small business in the first place.
In fact, it is this personal relationship that often makes a small business stand-out from its (often) larger competitors – a key differentiator if you like.
But, this can create a problem. There is a limit to the number of people a single business owner can personally service. The business will reach a certain point when the business owner finds themselves running out of time trying to service all their clients in the way that they have been (and that they now expect).
You might be familiar with this scenario.
It can seem that unless something changes, you will need to accept the fact that the business will not be able to grow any further.
For the entrepreneurs amongst us, this is a concept that is quite difficult to accept. We really want to find a way to grow, but still keep that personal element in our business. At the same time, we don’t want to grow “too big, too fast”, and lose one of the reasons people do business with us in the process.
In fact, it is a fear that many small business owners have – that their business will grow, and in the process, they will lose touch with the passion that got them into business in the first place. It is this passion which also happens to be the very thing that attracts customers to their business.
So what could change, without the business losing it’s personality?
One possible solution is that we could start to service our customers less. While it is true that we may find ourselves “overservicing” customers a little bit, and a small amount of extra capacity can be created by stopping this “overservicing” – it is only a temporary solution. You may have already tried this.
There is a limit to how much service you can take away before you have an impact on customer satisfaction and start to lose customers. So while we might find some extra room to grow this way – this is not a sustainable answer. You need to find a way “Reproduce” yourself – another “You” in order to get everything done!
The only real option is for you to delegate more. Ask yourself – does every, single, little thing you are currently doing really need to be handled by you personally? Are you in fact a “bottleneck”, preventing your business from growing – and possibly also preventing your customers from having a good service experience at the same time. (Believe me, this happens-more often than you might think!).
Is there a way you can can delegate your level of direct involvement with each customer, while still maintaining that personal service, and the unique personality of your business? I am going to respond to that and say “Yes there is!”. In fact, there are many ways to achieve this – it just takes the resolve and conviction to do it, and to overcome the fear of change that it might bring with it.
Effective delegation starts with building a solid team around you, of people that share your passion and your values. If you have a team like this, you can easily introduce them to your valued customers, and delegate some of the responsibility for service to them. Think about your team, and think about how you build your team. Are these people good representatives of what it is that your business stands for?
If they are, then customers will readily accept such people into the relationship, especially if they also see things being done more efficiently. Sure, they still have a relationship with you (and of course your business) – but now there is more capacity to give them more of what they want, and to grow with them. The alternative is being seen by your customers as the “bottleneck” in your business, and possibly in theirs too!
If you want to grow your business you need to change, and to do nothing means nothing changes. What was Einstein’s definition of insanity again?
Obviously, there is more to delegation than having a good team to delegate to (a topic worthy of its own blog post). The point is that we need a place to start. If you have a good team, delegate more. If you don’t have a good team, get one! Reproduce!
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See you later.