It’s been about 2 years since you started your business.
You have a steady trickle of customers. Enough to keep things moving and for your venture to feel like a real business.
But you’re not growing as quickly as you’d like to. In fact, you’re barely growing at all.
You need more customers.
And to get more customers, you can work on strengthening your SEO, creating a greater social media following, investing in advertising (online and offline) and maybe looking at a few PR campaigns. Perhaps even a direct mail drop?
But by the time you’ve answered the enquiries, created the products/provided your services, took care of the accounts and inventory (and, if you have employees, by the time you have managed their work) you’ve spent all your time and money.
How do you move forward?
You will probably have the temptation to fit more into your day. After all, you can do some SEO yourself. You can read up about PR. You can tinker with AdWords. You can (finally!) design a proper social media campaign and begin posting regularly on all your social media channels.
You’ve just doubled your workload. Which is not necessarily a problem, because you love working for yourself. Thing is, you were working a 60-hour week already! You might not know it yet, but you’re headed straight towards burn-out. And your competition will beat you in this game, if you don’t start working smart, not just hard.
A smarter way.
Your business has its strengths and weaknesses. For example, you might have a great product, but you don’t have enough traffic to your website.
Or, conversely, you have a following on your blog, but you don’t have the time to create a product you can sell.
Or the supply chain you created for delivery of your product is amazing, but your product isn’t (hello…. Microsoft Windows?).
The secret is not in trying to eliminate the weaknesses in your business by becoming an expert in areas which lack strength.
Rather, the secret is in:
- becoming aware of what your core competency is (how your business creates its value);
- finding other businesses which have strengths and weaknesses that compliment your own;
- creating partnerships which allow you to leverage your strengths in a way that mitigates your weaknesses.
In other words, if your biggest problem is having a great product but no traffic, you need to find someone who has the opposite problem – a website with healthy traffic and a loyal crowd, but few explored avenues of monetizing it.
Someone, somewhere in this world, woke up this morning and they need a widget that you have an abundance of and they have an abundance of widgets that you have been looking for.
You do not need to be a jack of all trades.
You simply need to partner up with other people who have trades that you need (and who need something that you have to offer).
Many business owners fall into the trap of becoming experts at everything. Then end up being masters of nothing and work ever-increasing hours to try and hit the next level of competency.
You need to be an expert at just two things: your core competency (which is probably reflected in the current strength in your business), and the skill of pitching this competency to prospective business partners with a view to create win-win relationships for you and them.
Irene Kotov is the founder of Arielle. Through resume writing services and interview coaching, she ensures her client’s presentation of their most authentic and inspiring self through the recruitment process.