“The biggest mistake small business owners make is thinking like one”
– David Parmenter
Every business started somewhere and if you are one of the 2.1 million small business owners in Australia, chances are you were there from day one. What started as a dream, became a plan and then eventual reality is now supporting you financially. Given that nearly 50% of Australian’s are employed in small businesses, it’s likely you’re supporting a team as well.
So, you’ve come this far and now you know a lot about business. You can see where there’s potential for growth, what works and what doesn’t. You have experience is on your side. The next step is to scale and build serious business value, but there is something holding you up.
You still think like a small business
Maybe you fit the legal definition of a small business (revenue less than $25 million, fewer than 50 employees, consolidated gross assets of less than $12.5 million) or maybe you don’t feel big compared to your competition or market network. Maybe you are just humble and feel that thinking your business is bigger than it is, is just pretentious.
Now, spend some time today pondering this. What if you weren’t a small business and your business had realised it’s true potential? What if revenues, your team and your infrastructure was ten times bigger than right now, what would you being doing differently? Everything that you would need to be doing differently as a ‘big’ business that you are not doing now as ‘small’ business will hinder growth when the time comes.
Do any of these well-worn lines sound familiar?
“Oh, I have all our business processes ‘up here’…”
Storing all your processes between your ears will not help your business scale. Every business process should be documented comprehensively and clearly and made easily accessible to the team. It may seem like overkill now especially if there is no one to immediately reference it. Down the track when you’re training future leaders your future self will thank you.
“It’s not the latest and greatest but our dinosaur system works fine…”
Business systems must be able to scale and if a system can’t cope with growth, abandon it no matter how much you like it. With the advent of cloud technology there is no reason why you can’t move your systems to cost effective and scalable alternatives. Review all systems see if they have the capacity to grow like you can.
“A HR department?! We’re not that big…”
Sure, you may not need a full-time HR ‘department’ right now but it’s never too soon to start building a sound HR system, policies and procedures. HR can be a legal minefield and if you aren’t all over it now it will cause no end of problems as the team grows, with unimaginable detrimental consequences.
“I wear a few hats around here…”
Roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and measurable core business functions not ’hats’. Stop thinking it’s best practice for a team to be reactive and crisis centric with their daily responsibilities. Roles should be documented, visible and understood even if you are assigning several to a team member now. Clarity around roles and responsibilities drives accountability, results and builds measurable metrics for future recruits.
“I’m not a detail person, I just focus on making money…”
Full marks for a visionary and entrepreneurial spirit, but at some point, you need to accept that the details are important and the foundational strength of a business empire lies in the details. As your business scales, the more you need to be driven by numbers and data. Know where to find your key numbers, what they mean and how to take decisive action.