The entrepreneurial path is clear. First, grow your business. Then scale your business.

So, here’s how it goes:

Darlene starts her own graphic design company.  At first, she’s thrilled to leave her cubicle job and get some clients. She can’t believe her great good fortune that she’s paid to do this thing she loves.

After a few years, Darlene has lots of clients. Some of them are on-going, and others come and go depending on the project.  She has a bookkeeper and an accountant. She hired an assistant to help with the work-load.  She has maxed out on all the best productivity tools, but her brain is still full up with open loops.

Darlene wonders whether she can keep on going like this.  She knows she should be grateful – but can’t help but think something’s wrong with her.  Last week, her biggest client called her with a project that could bring in a massive amount of income – but Darlene doesn’t feel excited anymore. She’s just stressed.

One day, Darlene hears the word “scalable.”  Oo, she likes the sound of it.  Can she “scale” her business?  The thought of it makes her feel elated.  She imagines that maybe she wouldn’t have to work so hard.  (Nom nom.)

The problem with words like “scalable” is that we hear them in an instant… and at an unconscious level, we want them to work in an instant too.   And while scalable IS possible in business, there are deep soulful things to consider, and then there are steps to take.   “Scalable” is a great idea – but it’s tedious to implement. The Darlene’s of the world are not so good with that second part. 🙂

First, something to consider:

Do you WANT to scale your business?

If you scale your business, chances are you won’t be doing the thing you most love. You’ll be running a team of people who are doing the thing you most love.  That’s an unbearable thought for many people.

If that’s you, then you can master the art of having a business by making things run smoothly, by hiring a small super star team, by charging premium prices and by packaging your offer in a way that makes your work higher value and easier to invoice.

You may not end up a millionaire – but you also may be happier this way.

If you know you DO want to scale your business, then you need to start with an understanding of how that will look.  While there are different models for scaling a business, the basic idea is this:

You shift your model to work one-to-many, by hiring a team of people under you to do the work you’ve been doing (and you lead and then train them).

The challenge here is that stepping back and fixing at how things work can feel a lot like changing the tires while you’re going 120 mph.  That’s because your business still needs to make money while things get cleaned up in the background and prepped for growth.

I don’t know a single business owner who has vast swaths of time left open for system clean up and/or visioning.  You must carve out that time and then show up.  Clean up work can take years, depending on how chaotic your current systems are.

No matter which track you choose, you have to create impeccable processes so that you aren’t continually putting out fires and dealing with the myriad snafus that happen in the daily interactions with clients, customers and sales.

Here’s some starting clean up steps to scale your business…

1 – YOU.

What’s on your plate?

Make a list of everything you do that takes your time.  And don’t ignore the little things that make you say, “Oh, well, that’s just 15 minutes here and there.”  No it’s not.  Fifteen minutes here and there is an energy drain and a constant interruption.

2 – How you get paid. 

Some questions to ask yourself:  Are you charging enough?  Do your invoicing/billing processes work?  Can you create packages, rather than billing per hour?  Can you take credit cards, rather than waiting for checks?

3 – Your team.

Many entrepreneurs have settled for people who aren’t very good and who don’t really support their work.  Because they are already so overwhelmed, their mantra becomes “at least I have someone.” (Ah, the siren song of the codependent.)

Time to get rid of the dead weight. You cannot scale a business or even improve your current situation if you have draining people on your team. Uplevel your hiring process.  Get exactly who you want on your team.

4 – Your client processes

When you get a new client, how much of your time is spent doing the same stuff over and over again? Could you streamline a process – while still being personal and service-focused?

How do you stay in touch with your clients in the middle of a project? Do they get to call you on a whim? Or do you schedule regular calls with them so that they are routinely updated on the process, the project and any unforeseen challenges that arise?

I bet that you are pretty much always textable and available.  This needs to stop.  The reason it’s happening is that the client hasn’t been trained any other way.  Time to step in and teach your clients how to treat you.

5 – Your clients

Are you working with clients you love?  Or have you outgrown some of them?   Again, get clear and let go of the dead weight. Take time to figure out who is your most ideal client and work ONLY with that client.

—–

Most solo-business owners have no idea why they aren’t able to grow and scale things. These 5 points are where it starts.

Another starting point is my Uplevel Your Business Program & Blueprint.  It’s the 10-Step Solution to growing a business that supports you in the work you love to do. Doors close Friday, April 3rd – so this will be your last chance to work with me for the one and only time I’m offering Uplevel Your Business in 2015. Just click here to sign up. 

17 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • Rachel.dodds@live.co.uk

    Hi, I teach sewing and craft and sell fabric and supplies, I am not sure how this could be scaleable.

    Are all businesses scaleable? And can they all receive passive income?

    • Christine Kane

      Rachel –

      Scaling could be about hiring teachers under you – and creating a mini-empire based on your signature methods and how you teach. The products you sell would be the lead generator – or a separate piece altogether. But certainly your list would be a blend of both.

      • Rachel

        Thanks Christine,
        I have thought of fabric kits, online courses etc.

        Where to start first is the main issue.- getting stuck at the very beginning !

        Thanks

  • Virendra_s

    Your article hit just the right nerve Christine. I have been wanting to scale up my business for so long but all attempts were failing. Now I know why! I was doing all things wrong. Thank you for pointing the right way out. May be I will get it right this time round. Thank you again.

  • Rachel

    Well said. The problem with dollars-per-hour, is that eventually, you run out of hours.

  • Melissa

    I am working on building my team. Data entry, running errands etc. is not my genius-work. I need to get it off my plate so I can grow my business and still have time for self-care and kid-care.

  • Beth

    Great article Christine and so relevant for me right now. Your point about needing to embrace an abundant mindset particularly resonated with me. It can feel scary taking time out of the day to day business, but you really have to trust that bigger things await and take action on your deepest, most soul-stirring vision. If you don’t then, well you just will never grow will you!? Time and time I am learning that the more I trust, let go and let things be easy, I open myself up to receive great things in my business. Now I am at the point where my 1-1 coaching practice is maxed out, I am upleveling everything in terms of how I work with clients and rates I charge, and I’m making things SCALABLE! I am going for it!! I love your work, your style, your energy- there’s something very soulful about your approach to business building whilst still being ‘spot on’ from a practical/ biz perspective. I think you do beautiful work keep it up! xx

  • Christa Hein

    The thing that spoke most to me in this article is your reminder that this won’t happen in an instant. I started my farm education business almost 2 years ago. This year the business has been growing so fast that I’m at the point where I need to become scalable to keep up with demand. (WooHoo!) There are so many things that I’ve learned from you that I know I need to do (video all my classes, create training and client systems, etc.) and at times I become frustrated that I can’t work 20 hour days to get it all done right now! But I’m on the right path and am taking the right steps – it just all takes time! (A lesson in perseverance and patience!) I had 5 people on call to help me with programs this year – now I just need to create the next steps that will allow them to teach without me being there! (And I’ll be meeting with a franchise lawyer next month to talk about taking it to the next level and creating the systems in a way so that others can use my model to start their own businesses in other cities!) Thank you Christine for your continuing inspiration!

  • Nneka, Working Mystic

    Hi Christine, thanks for pointing out that not all business owners WANT to scale. Building a business where you aren’t doing fulfillment, but you’re running the biz takes a whole different skillset. As a business consultant, I first had to educate a lot of business owners who felt like their business was their baby. They were so resistant to letting it go.
    I’m learning for myself that the opposite is also very true. Having a business where I’m doing fulfillment AND running the biz (start up) takes a whole other suite of skills. But, I’m getting there 😉

    • Christine Kane

      Yes, Nneka. The self-awareness to recognize that you LIKE the thing you do is crucial to your happiness when it comes to building your biz. Thanks for your note!

  • Jan

    I’m continually looking at this, going through your materials, and trying to decide which way I’m going. This article is going to help. Thanks for the very real advice and info! 🙂

  • Deane

    I’ve just started my coaching practice, and thanks to your DVD I’m trying to build scalability AND passive income into my business from the get-go. Never would have thought in those terms without your great advice. I still need to go back and look at tall the ways I spend my time and make sure they are in line with the grand vision. Thanks for the reminder, Christine!

  • Marieanneatim

    Great piece Christine. I will take the tips you have outlined and teach my clients. I am so happy to have found this article at this time. Keep up the good work.

  • Natalie

    Thanks for sharing Christine:-)

  • Maia Toll

    Thanks for the reminder, Christine, that I am not the only one who had to go back and do clean-up. Yup, it takes time. But a year and a half later, I just launched my first (scalable) on-line program and it is full! I have a kick-ass team that works together super well and the next few projects ready in the pipe-line.

    I can’t thank you enough for pointing out the possibilities and the paths to getting there.

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