One Person Company Growth
You downshift into second gear as your car goes over the hill and starts to pick up speed. You can see there is a turn ahead so you gently tap the brakes. The brake pedal goes flat beneath your foot and the car doesn’t slow at all. For the third time in 10 minutes your curse yourself for not buying a car with brakes. Your next car will definitely have brakes!
OK, I’m being a bit silly. Of course vehicles aren’t built or sold with vital parts missing.
But oddly enough, many small businesses are built with equally important components under developed or left out entirely. Imagine what a business with NO sales lead prospecting might look like. And the underdeveloped nature of these core business processes is what often dooms a small business before it finds its footing. Generating sustainable one person company growth takes more than just a great product or service. Other processes like sales and marketing need to be as good, or better than your business’s offering.
The Golden Arches
It’s bigger than your company, but consider how McDonalds works. It’s one of the most successful businesses in the world because of their attention to standardized processes. When you walk in you’ll notice that the interior has been designed in a deliberate way, different than their competitors. The cashiers and staff all process your order the same way which doesn’t happen by accident – they all underwent the same training.
In fact, you can go to almost any McDonalds in the world and have a uniform experience no matter what language is on the menu.
Kind of incredible, isn’t it? But all of this training and optimization are just processes. And whether you love or abhor their food, your small business needs to be like McDonalds.
4 Core Business Processes
So why are these critically important processes not well developed? Many new small business owners underestimate the importance of promotion and distribution to their success. For others there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
To succeed every business has to DOMINATE in Marketing, Sales, Production, and Customer Service. If one department is weak, then the whole company is weak. Imagine having an incredible product or service that only 3 people know about. The best solution in the world won’t succeed without effective promotion or distribution.
Your marketing department is responsible for generating sales opportunities and awareness in your solution.
The sales department moves potential interest into paying clients.
The production department creates the product or service.
And the customer service department keeps clients coming back for more.
Larger companies will have other important departments – HR, legal, accounting, and so on. But every company needs strong execution in the 4 core department to thrive long term.
And if you are a one person company then guess what!? You are head of all 4 departments.
Yes, You Are in Sales
One of the biggest problems faced by small business owners is a reluctance to embrace the 4 core business processes their venture will call upon them to play. Someone trained in a competency like accounting doesn’t necessarily have any experience or enthusiasm for marketing or sales. They just want to be a really good accountant!
But we know what happens when you ignore activities related to marketing and sales – you don’t get any clients. So let’s be clear. If you are looking to achieve one person company growth then you are in sales. You are also in marketing and customer service – full stop.
I’m not in sales, I’m an accountant.
– a bankrupt accountant
The Grass is Greener
People who work for a company always look at the self employed and think they must be doing something right. Wouldn’t it be nice to dump the company and go into business for yourself? If you worked for yourself then you’d have more autonomy, better hours, and a better paycheck. Right?
In many cases the answer is a resounding YES. In the US, more than 30,000 small businesses a year pull in revenues that exceed $1m per year. Even after expenses that’s a pretty good paycheck!
But sadly, the opposite is also quite common.
Accountant Mike (not his real name) used to work for a large accounting firm. For years he billed clients large sums per hour for his work. But he only saw a tiny portion of his billings on his paycheck. He felt under paid and under appreciated. Finally one day Mike had enough and quit to start his own firm.
Mike assumed that he could command the same high rates he charged at his old firm and was optimistic about the near future. What could go wrong, right?
Mike paid a designer a few thousand dollars to build him a small website and logo. Then he waited for the phone to ring. It didn’t.
Mike then spent two weeks writing blog articles and sharing them on social media and posting on his new website. Surely that would bring in clients, right? While Mike’s writing skills improved, the phone didn’t ring.
Finally Mike started to buy online advertising. That moved the needle! His site started to get qualified visitors and he even got some leads.
But the leads he generated were from much smaller companies than he was used to working with. They balked at his high fees. Mike had to decide whether he wanted small clients, or no clients. Eventually he agreed to lower his fees to fit their budgets.
Mike was starting to realize why his previous firm charged so much, but paid so little. He’d already spent thousands on a new site, and significantly more on advertising. His business was starting to take shape, but Mike massively underestimated the cost to acquire new clients. And he’d over estimated how much each client would be willing to pay for his services.
Dude, Where’s My Tardis?
The good news is that building sustainable one person company growth is pretty simple. You just need the 4 core departments in your business to produce a desired outcome. If marketing brings in leads you’ll have lots of opportunities. If sales converts those leads into new business, then you’ll never lack for clients. If production goes smoothly then you’ll have happy clients. And when client service is working then your clients will spend more and refer new clients.
It becomes a virtuous cycle of small business success.
The bad news is that it’s not easy. If achieving one person company growth was easy then everyone would work for themselves. Finding time to do everything properly is tough.
Marketing is a full time job and if you don’t do it right then you’ll over spend on promotion and never have enough leads to grow your business.
Sales is a full time job. Going across town to meet a prospective client doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when you’ve got tasks that need attention and client work that has to be finished then sales calls take a massive amount of time and focus.
Not to mention that fact that sales and marketing are both specialized skills that need to be learned and relearned as the world evolves.
And for most companies production is yet another full time job.
Dolly the Entrepreneur
Unless you know how to clone yourself then you’re probably stuck with the same 24 hours as the rest of us. And for a 1 (wo)man company owner that means wearing all the hats. You’ve got lots to do and not a lot of time to get it all done.
And that’s small business’ dirty secret. One person companies don’t (usually) close because they have a bad product or service. Solopreneurs shut their doors because it’s incredibly difficult to handle all the sales, marketing, production and client support that your business requires. There’s a reason slightly larger companies have at least one person dedicated to most of those roles.
If you want to achieve sustainable one person company growth; it’s easy. Clone yourself, or find more hours in the day. Or figure out how to get a lot done using technology or outsourced assistance. For most solopreneurs this means outsourcing parts of their business that are time consuming or require specialized skills. You can still be a one person company, but you’ll have an external team of people that can support your growth and help you add hours to your day.