Starting a business from scratch is tough. For almost everyone. Finding the right product or service to offer can be difficult and time consuming. Then identifying your target market can also take time. Often the hardest part is reaching that target market and interesting them in whatever you are offering.
I work with many women who have been in business for less than two years. They have reached a point where they feel like they are never going to achieve the success that they have dreamed of or that they think they deserve. They have great offerings and have worked so hard in trying to build their businesses up. Most have websites, have used graphic designers to help build their brand, use or are aware of SEO, have completed numerous online and face to face courses, are active on social media and have a marketing budget and strategy. No wonder they feel disheartened at this stage.
Rather than encouraging these women to continue doing what they are doing, or allowing them to give up I always urge them to find a partner. Whether that is a business partner, an employee, a confidant or a mentor. But someone who gets them and their business, but perhaps who has a different skill set from them.
I saw one such mother hugely impact on her business success by giving half of her business away to someone she had previously worked with. The original owner was a true entrepreneur. She had lots of big ideas. She was so inspiring. She was incredibly creative. But she hated detail and so reaching her market was only possible face to face where her passion and enthusiasm was contagious. The idea of sitting at a computer and writing a marketing plan, or updating a Facebook page and website made her blood run cold.
Enter business partner number two. These women had worked together before for someone else, and knew they were compatible but different. The new partner brought with her an amazing set of admin skills and a real eye for details. She also had an incredible passion for what the business was offering although left and still does leave most of the blue sky planning and big picture stuff to her partner.
Between these two incredible women they have built a multi-million dollar company which employs over 30 staff in two locations. Their offerings have continued to expand and grow over time and they are in a place which they both acknowledge they could not have gotten to on their own. They are huge philanthropists and have a beautiful, inspiring and growing business.
When I started Playroom to Boardroom I was tempted to go it alone. I thought that with my background in corporate finance, admin, customer service and HR that I would be so well placed to do everything. Very quickly I realised a few things.
1. Marketing is not on my list of strengths and is ESSENTIAL in starting a small business. I immediately completed a couple of courses, got networking and utilised the skills and knowledge of an experienced friend of mine.
2. When running workshops and seminars you can add so much more value by having more than one opinion. I quickly drafted in a career expert to work with. She has dealt with recruitment from an agency perspective for many years and I from a corporate point. What we could offer our clients together was so much more valuable than just one view-point.
3. Running your own business is lonely. When you have a great win or achieve something you have been working on, you look around the office and there is nobody to tell. If you are stuck and you need some inspiration mid-morning, you are again likely to be on your own. Working closely with someone else in whatever format works for you means that they will share in your excitement, celebrate your wins and help you through the tough times. It also helps to say things out loud sometimes, to make them clear in your own mind.
If you are feeling stuck or like the progress of your business is not what you were hoping for then it is definitely worth thinking about engaging another person somehow. The thought of giving away half of your business may seem like too much, after all this is your baby and you have done the initial 2 years of work, however as my contact who I detailed above told me
"Half of two million is better than all of $100,000."
Similarly the cost of a mentor or business consultant may seem to great for your small business, but it may well be that spend which sky rockets your sales and sees your business to leap to the next level.
Something achievable for us all should at least be someone to talk to. Whether they are able to offer advice or simply support you, the ability to have the conversations zooming around in your head and to offload some of your worries and stresses can be incredibly liberating.