How to grow your business

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If you’re running a business or just starting up, understanding how to grow a business right from the start will make your life much easier.

When you’re at the beginning, there is so much to do. You probably have an assortment of lists with lots of things to tick off. There is so much to learn – and constant pressure to make it all happen.

This becomes the strongest when the initial starting period is over and you realise that many of the things you’ve done did not have the expected results. So you add more tasks to your list to compensate and – after a short period – you find yourself stressed… and somehow the fun and the excitement seems to fade.

You’re not the only one. In my experience, almost every start-up gets into this stage.

But why is this? Is it a lack of experience? Wrong planning or doing the wrong things? It could be, but most likely, it is based on concentrating on only one aspect of running a business.

Time for some role play

As a business person, you play several different roles, and each is very important if you want to grow your business.

There’s the Entrepreneur. He – or she – is the one with all the ideas, the vision and the future outlook. The one that lives only in the future. They see the things that haven’t happened yet.

Then we have the Manager. That’s the planner. He takes the resources and puts them into play. He is in charge of the present of the things that happen today.

And the last one is the Worker. He is in charge to do all the work and lives in the past. He is happy when all the work is done. Then he can look back and see the result of his efforts.

Each relies on each other to do their job. If the Entrepreneur does not set the direction of the company, the Manager can’t plan and structure. He needs a goal to measure himself and his planning against, and the Entrepreneur provides that goal. If the Manager doesn’t create the structure and lays out the work to be done, the worker does not know what to do. All of them need each other.

Know where your destination is

What many start-ups and young businesses do wrong is to concentrate on only one of the actors. If you only dream about the future without actually getting anything planned and done, you go nowhere. If you try to create structure without knowing for what and without getting things done, you go nowhere. And if you do things without structure and direction, you probably guessed it; you go nowhere.

Your job is to play all the actors and all the roles required. That means you need to take time to dream, to create ideas and to visualise your future business. You will need to find a structure that will make these visions come true, and you need to do the jobs required to make it happen. Each of the actors also needs to communicate with each other and give feedback to the next one.

I found it easiest if you split this up and concentrate on one role at the time as if you were three different employees.

When I am the Entrepreneur, I put my ideas on paper or board. I describe the future I see as best as possible as if I had to explain it to someone else. I map out the path I see and create the focus points. These are the principle of the business (the way I see the business). That is the amount of money, the number of customers and anything else I can picture.

Describing it well makes it easier for the Manager. When I am the manager, I look at the vision on the board and start creating some structure to it. These are things like required resources, sales tactics, partnerships, outsourcing, and what has to be done to make it happen. As a manager, I create lists, the business model, create, develop and manage resources and investigate different procedures to make it all as efficient as possible.

And when I am the worker, I look at the plan to see what has to be done today and get on it. I don’t question the plan or the vision. That is not my job. My job is to get it done.
If you treat them separately, you can replace each with another resource at any given time. That is important as it will provide you with the required distance to your business; you need to make the right decisions.

To wrap it up. If you want to grow your business consistently, you need to understand the roles you have to play without getting lost in only one or two of them. All three are equally important and not being all of them means you will give up or burn-out at one stage. Give each of them the same value, time and resources and your business will grow. I have no doubt.

Which role are you playing today?

John Di Stefano

An entrepreneur at heart and founder of the Entrepreneur Academy in Brussels, Belgium. He is teaching and supporting entrepreneurs in the skills every entrepreneur needs to create a better life for themselves and the people around them.

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