Many small business owners start up because they have a specific skillset or a particular passion. Or maybe they see a need, a problem that they want to solve. That skillset, that passion, that opportunity can drive an entrepreneur to grow a business, but it’s not enough to make you successful. There are cash flow questions that will dictate what is possible. Most business owners assume that the key sources of capital to fund growth are debt and equity. But the largest source of capital that any business owner has to fund growth is the capital that the business itself generates. So why don’t people use it? It’s often tied up in accounts receivable.
Most people think that the more money you have, the better you can grow. The key to growth, they think, is to raise more money. If only they had access to deep pockets, they think, they could grow faster, better, and safer. But the truth is just the opposite. A smaller budget can help you grow more effectively. How can that be true? When you have an unlimited budget, unlimited time, you don’t have to be creative. You don’t have to do things differently. Ironically, you will be more likely to make bad decisions because you can. Those resources will initially insulate you from the consequences of bad decisions, preventing you from challenging yourself to not only avoid bad decisions but to make uniquely good decisions. The small budget that so many small business owners worry about is also an asset when it comes to prompting creative thinking.
3. Growth Should Be Driven Not By What You Know, But By What You Notice
Most people think that growth must be driven by the things we know. Small business owners often start a business because there’s a trade they have a skill in, and they are incredibly knowledgeable about that trade. That knowledge leads us to assume that must be where the growth is. But what also happens is that we fail to notice things. Growth needs to be driven by what you notice, not what you know. The things you notice are the biggest opportunities. You’ll see opportunities to change, to get ahead of a trend and do something innovative. You’ll also see chances to change yourself before the market changes and leaves you behind. You have to be focused on what you notice, not just what you already know.
4. Ask Questions Before You Grow
Too many people fail to ask questions before they grow. It’s easy to get excited and caught up in the thrill of selling products, getting more customers, and growing. But before you it, you’ve lost control of the operation that you started in the first place. You lose control of profit margins, cash flow, and other essential questions, instead chasing after them to keep the growth going. It is very difficult to hold back and ask those questions, but if you don’t ask them up front, then the deal that you work so hard to get can kill you.
5. Don’t Take on Risk That You Aren’t Ready for to Grow Your Business
The biggest companies are not always the most successful. A good measure of a successful business is one that has been able to sustain itself for a long time. When you look at the longest-lasting companies in the United States and around the world, the vast majority of them are small businesses, not members of the Fortune 50, 100, or even 500. So does that make growth bad? Absolutely not. But the problem is that too many people do the wrong things when they go after growth, taking on risks that they shouldn’t take. They take on debt, go after the wrong sources of capital, neglect cash flow, and make other mistakes. They assume things will take care of themselves. Lara’s suggestion for this problem is to question everything; assume nothing. No matter how obvious something seems, question it, look into it and find out what the truth is. Then you’ll have the best chance to grow in a changing world.