“Finding Our Way” – Women and Micro-Business

What if I said that the growth we so eagerly desire – the kind that spells S.U.C.C.E.S.S., can quickly become a curse? I think the sound I’d hear would be a chorus of ‘NO’s’ that drowns out any hint of truth!

Yet the truth is that growth – uncontrolled and unplanned, Uncontrolled-Growthcan definitely be the make or break point in any business. Especially for women who own or partner in a micro-business (4 employees or less). We’re so eager to reach certain monetary goals that when they appear on the horizon we rush toward them without a thought as how to manage what comes with them.  

And what comes with them is increased attention to excellence – from database management to consistent engagement with folks new to our business to the best customer service we can deliver without missing a beat. . .

If you’ve been in the marketplace a while, you’ve probably heard the term “managed growth”. It’s a corporate strategy to align growth goals with the management of those goals as they are achieved. In other words, growth is planned and controlled rather than permitted to occur in topsy-turvy fashion. The value of course is maintaining high standards of customer care without breaking stride as new customers roll onto our bottom line.

The obvious question: what good does it do to add huge numbers of new customers-clients if we loose old ones in the process because our customer service takes a hit as we grow? The challenge is to grow without dealing with commensurate attrition as we do. 

Therein lies the tension of which I’ve spoken in the last couple of “Women and Micro-Business” Thursday series! 

Let’s call this “growthitis“.  And growthitis is more apt to enter the picture when we own or partner in micro-business than when part of a large company in which someone else is responsible for other aspects of the business – including customer care, data management, engagement and follow up. It’s equally true that growthitis is most likely to occur when the micro-business is an IBO of a large direct sales or multi-level marketing company. 

So how do we deal with growthitis?  Again, in a need to be totally transparent, I’m not an expert in this malady. In fact, I’m more likely to be victim of the disease than the physician with the magic cure. But I’ll set forth what I’ve found to work – regardless of the size of the business or those in leadership/management:3-steps-to-Business-Strategy

1. Develop a Growth Plan –  when you start out in business, regardless of what it is,  develop a growth plan. Decide what financial goals you want to reach and the time frame in which you want to do so. One good initial goal I’ve used when in direct sales is to determine how much I need to fill a short fall in the monthly personal budget. That becomes my initial goal.

Instead of trying to reach it month one; I determine at what point in the year achieving that goal is optimum compared to the other aspects of the business I need to give equal attention (customer service, customer retention, customer acquisition, etc.). Then the plan spans what I need to do to reach that monetary amount in the time allotted and compares with the requirements for each growth level. 

How’s this help? It permits me to plan the growth I desire and match the experience I desire for my customers with the growth that is occurring. Most of all – it reduces the stress of faster-than-I-can-keep-up-with-growth and makes the growth that is occurring easily manageable. Screen-Shot-2014-12-03-at-5.38.19-am-660x400

2. Fear Not – You may think I’ve lost my mental marbles, but I haven’t. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to new prospects who rush in to join you in business – as customer or team member. Remember, both require more time than maintaining current customers and even the activities involved in acquiring new ones.

If these folks are truly desirous of joining you in either capacity; they will wait! Especially when you explain the Growth Plan you have for your business. In fact, such an approach lets prospects know you are a serious professional woman who approaches business in a systematic organized manner. That would impress me. And I’m sure it will impress others when you ask them to wait until you can provide them with the excellent service your customers and/or team members have come to expect! 

Here’s the secret “juice” in the waiting game: those who are seriously viable prospects will be there when you return to bring them aboard. And they’ll be even more likely to dig and in and do because they had time to assess you and the business, your approach to the business and how you handle yourself and those you serve. Those who walk_ _ _ well they never were folks you really wanted as customers or team members because they were simply looking for the quick fix!

Again, I haven’t scratched the surface and the word count grows. There’s certainly more tension relievers for us to consider, which is what I’ll do in next week’s post. 

In the meantime, take time to work out a realistic and feasible Growth Plan. Work it out and let others review it. Don’t shy away from getting input from those who want the very best for you. 

Then be ready to put it into action now. . . 

Warmly,

Linda

Linda S. Fitzgerald, CEO & Visionary Partner
Champion of Ordinarily Extraordinary Women of the World
A Women’s Place Network, Inc. dba
Affiliated Women International
Empowering Women to Thrive
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Image Sources: Uncontrolled Growth, Create a Business Growth Plan,  The Business Woman Media

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://neighborhoodboutiques.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/linda-google-NB-profile-pic.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]I have a ‘fiery’ passion to see women become all they are designed to be – personally, professionally and most of all – spiritually. I write, teach, mentor and coach with that passion in mind. As an author and prolific blogger, I reach out to women in all walks of life, especially women of faith to empower and equip them for greatness. [/author_info] [/author]

Comments

  1. Monica

    They say year 1 is the hardest for a new business, but my experience has shown me that it is year 2-5 that is the hardest because of trying to manage the growth. Learning to say “no” when managing growrth is one of the hardest lessons I had to learn.

    Thanks for sharing this Linda!

    Hugs & Blessings,
    Monica

    1. Linda S. Fitzgerald Post author

      Thanks much for your sage insight. Year 1 can be hard, but as growth starts and we are eager to have it continue (in fact “mushroom”); we find it almost impossible to manage well. That’s why I spend time each day looking at our anticipated growth with Neighborhood Boutiques looking for tools and ways to manage the growth I see coming and know we want to handle exceedingly well!

      Blessings,

      Linda

  2. theresawilkins

    Excellent article and great advice! Calculated planning in business is always a good idea, especially for growth!

    1. Linda S. Fitzgerald Post author

      Thanks much Theresa! Affirmation is such a good thing and I appreciate your support in saying so!

      Blessings,

      Linda

  3. Marquita Herald

    Such an important message Linda. Poor (or lack of) planning has taken down far too many businesses, and not all of them are small either. One of my greatest business challenges came when I took on a position at a business that was in very real danger of going under and it hadn’t even been open a year. They’d created a plan based on their other businesses – none of which were in the U.S. – not taking into account the cultural and economic differences in this area, and then when things started going south the owner in his frustration proceeded to offend many of the local influencers. I am proud to say I turned that business around to the point it became the most successful in their chain, but it cost me dearly in terms of stress and sleepless nights. There is no question the time involved with proper planning in the beginning is well worth the effort!

    1. Linda S. Fitzgerald Post author

      Thanks so much Marquita. It’s all about planning; but the proper planning. Once doesn’t usually think of planning for growth but it’s critically important to do so!

      Blessings,

      Linda

  4. Suzie Cheel

    Great post Linda and love the graphic. I just wrote this morning I need a new timeline
    Thanks for the inspiration xx

    1. Linda S. Fitzgerald Post author

      Ha, love it Suzie. Thanks so much and thanks for your support as I seek to “inspire”.

      Blessings,

      Linda

  5. Yvonne A Jones

    Excellent post, Linda. I love the emphasis you place on recognizing that with growth comes added responsibilities to current customers. In fact, by doing what it takes to retain these customers, the business will also lower its customer acquisition costs. Saying “No” to growth is something that many small business owners, or micro-business owners may find hard to do, but you’ve highlighted several benefits to doing this and the reasons why. Thank you.

    1. Linda S. Fitzgerald Post author

      Thank you Yvonne! Appreciate your kind comments and glad to know the post is right on in your mind. It is hard to say “no” to growth, but in the long run it’s saying “yes” to longevity!

      Blessings,

      Linda

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