Is it just me or is 2011 flying by? I still can’t believe we’re in October and the first week is already over! I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how businesses scale. When I first started my Domaining business in 2007 I assumed my business would be me working on 10,000 things at once. That’s exactly what I did in the beginning and it was both exhilarating and exhausting. It was at this point that my business had its first pivot.
The pivot was a change in focus, from building a zillion small sites, to building a handful of full scale businesses. However something was missing, I still wanted to have small sites, they made money, not a ton, but a lot when combined together. I liked the fact that this diversified my revenue, and best of all it was passive.
If I wanted to execute my pivot while continuing to build that part of my business I had to stop doing all the work myself. I think this happened somewhere in early 2009 and it has made all the difference in the world moving forward. The problem was that I kept running out of time, I couldn’t do it all myself.
I’ve seen a lot of business owners max themselves out trying to do it all. If you’re not making any money I can understand this, but if you’re turning a profit, a piece of that should go into hiring people to do some of the things that you do. This will allow you to shed some of the easier, more monotonous or time-consuming tasks, and focus on growing your business.
Your focus can go from tactical to strategic. The easiest way to get started is to break-down what you do in your business into two categories, tactical and strategic. Over time try to find people to take care of the tactical day-to-day things so you can focus on strategy. The goal should be that eventually you aren’t working for yourself, but instead you are running a business. This means if you go on vacation for two weeks your business still makes money.
I still think every single day about how to grow my business in new directions but in ways that I can stay out of the day-to-day and focus on strategy. Now when I say, “Wow – I have a great idea, we should do X” I immediately think of the skill-set I would look for in a person who could do it for me. Back in 2007 every time I had a great idea I thought of how I could do it myself. It’s a different way to think but it’s made all the difference.
Once of the best ways to learn how to scale is to look at other companies who have successfully done it. This year I’ve been putting a major focus on the startup world and learning from every company I can. Conferences like Startup Lessons Learned and TechCrunch Disrupt can provide valuable insight into why some companies scale like crazy and why others crash and burn. I’m sure I have many more pivots ahead but with each conference, each talk, each article I learn a bit more about how to structure my business and build a platform for the future.
As business-owners we should always be examining our business, looking at what’s working and more importantly, looking at each failure as a lesson. In some ways life and business are all about making decisions and learning from them. It’s those who close their mind and ignore their failures that miss-out on some of life’s best lessons. So don’t be afraid, fail away, just make sure you learn from your mistakes and use these lessons to build a better business.