Your new business is off to a good start. There is a real demand for your product or service, and the future looks promising. And then you suddenly realize: OMG, there are too few hours in the day, you are having difficulty managing priorities, and you are unable to focus on your strengths. Too many details are falling by the wayside. It is time to admit you can’t do it all by yourself, not without prioritizing.
You are not alone. It’s virtually impossible for any one or two people to manage all the processes of a growing business, regardless of industry experience, intelligence, and skill sets. Your acceptance of this basic truth is the first step towards finding a solution to this problem. And a solution is necessary, because each of the processes outlined below is equally important to the healthy development of your business, and you can’t manage all of them without prioritizing your strengths and letting someone else take care of the areas in which they excel.
Product and/or service development: a continuing process of refining, adding, and updating. Anything that’s not new can quickly become old. To remain in one place may be to stagnate.
Marketing and public relations: crafting a strong message and using the right communications tools to grow your customer/client base and meet its ever-changing needs and expectations, as well as identifying and satisfying the needs of your core following, are constant priorities.
Branding and brand development: critical elements of your product/service and marketing/PR processes are essential to building strong and enduring relationships with your target market(s).
Sales and sales revenues: your all-important road signs of growth and success; measured intelligently, they are your first reading of what you’re selling, how much, and to whom, and they assist you in shaping your future direction.
Supply-chain management: (for those selling products, this may be a whole new and complex world) including sourcing, manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, and inventory management; managing this area requires experience, agility, and logistical know-how that may have to be bought, hired, or rented.
Customer service: ever more critical in today’s super-competitive business climate, it offers an effective channel for building customer satisfaction and loyalty to your brand. Equally important, it is an effective tool for acquiring customer feedback on what’s working and what’s not, as well as offering you a reliable guide for meeting and beating competitor challenges.
Technology and accounting: your primary resources for tracking, reporting, analyzing, and managing operations, costs, and profits (ROI) of the various areas listed above. Detail-heavy and time-consuming, these functions are the entrepreneur’s essential tools for maintaining and establishing control of their growing and increasingly complex enterprise.
To grow your business, you need to build a team, whether in-house or outsourced, of people or businesses with complementary skill sets and sufficient industry savvy to manage the processes you entrust to them. The ideal scenario may be to establish strategic alliances with independent contractors and/or entities you can orient and supervise (but not micromanage).
Should you lack the multi-processing skill or experience – or believe that you best serve the operation by prioritizing and focusing on the one or several areas in which you are particularly talented – you may need to find the right person to bring in as a partner or key associate, someone you can rely on for both expertise and integrity. If you do not, you will be unable to maximize the time doing what you do best, invariably increasing your opportunity costs, inhibiting and jeopardizing the growth, efficiency, and profitability of your business.
I speak from experience. In 1990, I founded a sourcing, marketing, and sales agency that imported apparel and sundries from Asia. To do that, I formed a strategic alliance with a Taiwanese trading company. Their responsibility, which I supervised, included supply-chain management and operations. I also hired independent contractors for sales, while prioritizing and managing the other processes myself. The ability to manage and create a synergy among all of these processes was critical for our success.