You took the leap, started your own business and have enjoyed success as a one-person shop. Now it’s time to move beyond living paycheck to paycheck and get your venture to that proverbial next level. How do you grow your business as a sole proprietor?
It starts with looking at scalability—your capacity to increase business and the ability to get your earning capacity beyond the limitations of time in the day.
The first issue to look at is what your business is. If you’re a graphic designer and already working 50 hours a week, plus running the administrative side of the business, you probably feel stuck. The same goes for a lawyer who only has so many billable hours to give. What you have to do is examine how you can get past the billable hours’ conundrum.
That means finding ways to generate revenue in off-business hours. A person that sells a software product has a clear advantage in scalability. They can use e-commerce to produce revenues at any time of the day. Their website is always working, even when they’re sound asleep. Software is also a product where once the first one is created, the rest can roll off the assembly line, so to speak. Scalability here means simply finding the funding for increased marketing campaigns.
For those that sell a service or create a product that’s not easily duplicated, scaling is more of a challenge, but still within your reach. Take a look at these 3 factors.
#1: Your processes
Is there anything that can be done more efficiently? Any tasks that can be automated? Keep in mind these don’t have to pertain to the service itself, but anything that can free up more of your time. Being able to automate your accounting—like Danny DeVito in the QuickBooks commercials—can allow you to devote more energy to creating valuable products and services.
#2: Narrow your focus
When you first started your business, you probably took on most anyone who was willing to give you work. Now that you’re a success, that might need to be revisited. Are there clients who are low-revenue, but high maintenance? They may need to go. You want your energy squarely on the clients who really love what you do. Not only are they the base of your current business, but they’re the ones most likely to order additional products and services—or to stay with you if raising your rates is necessary and appropriate.
#3: What else can you sell?
The lawyer might not have more billable hours, but they could still offer valuable services. What if you produced an 8-video series providing an introduction to your particular field of law, with a special focus on topics that are most likely to impact ordinary people? And let’s say you only charged $49.95 for it. “Go to law school for 50 bucks” could be a marketing campaign. You don’t have to give away knowledge that should be reserved for clients, but you’ll increase awareness of your services, make some money—and do it in a very scalable way—all in one fell swoop.