It’s a good problem to have, but it’s still a problem: deciding when (and if) we should grow our business. Hopefully it’s an issue that each of us will have to confront sometime in our future. Having to face this question means that we’ve been successful in our industry, but that doesn’t make the choice any easier. It’s still something that’s going to cause us stress and keep us up at night.
Growing a business is a tough proposition. According to a recent Entrepreneur article (based on US Dept of Labor statistics), approximately 20% of all small businesses fail within the first year, and only 30% of them make it to year ten. Those aren’t very encouraging numbers, but that doesn’t mean that we still won’t try. Among small businesspeople, the entrepreneurial spirit is strong and the desire to succeed is difficult to ignore.
Even though the odds appear to be stacked against us, we’re still going to give it a go.
Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.-Dale Carnegie
The numbers tell us that most of us won’t make it, but that means that some of us will. And included in that number of those who will make it, are some of us that will make it big.
So big that we’ll reach a point where we’re turning away business.
Turning. Away. Business.
Let that sink in for a moment. We may actually become so successful in our chosen industry that we don’t have enough time in our day to serve all the customers that want to do business with us. There are clients sitting there, with money in hand, just waiting for a chance to give it to us.
And we’ve got to tell them no.
Sorry, I’m already too busy to help you. I know that you want to give me money, but I just can’t take it from you right now. If you can wait a while, I’ll be glad to fit you in. But I just don’t have the time right now.
And for those of us that run a time-dependent business (like professional home inspectors), this can cause us a big problem.
Being busy is a good thing. It let’s us know that we’re doing a good job. It validates all the hard work that we’ve done over the years. It confirms that all the research, marketing, and struggles have not been in vain. It proves that we’re good at what we do, and people recognize that we’re worth waiting for.
But it also means that we’re losing money. Some of those clients are facing an immovable deadline, and they just can’t wait for us to get to them.
They need an inspection, and they need it now.
So, they take their business (and their money) elsewhere. Someone else is servicing our client. And that’s never a good thing.
Turn down clients too often and, eventually, the clients will stop trying. Sooner or later, they’ll skip you and just go directly to the business that can accommodate their needs. And in the end, you’ll be left with plenty of time for inspections, but no one calling for your services.
When we start turning away clients, that’s when the trouble starts. That’s when we start to stress. That’s when we’ve got to make a decision about the future of our business.
That’s when we’ve got to choose: do I stay, or do I grow?
Deciding whether or not to expand our business is a tough choice. There are many factors to consider, and many arguments (pro and con) to contemplate.
Do I want to get any bigger?
Am I happy with my current income, or do I need to make more money?
Am I the type of person who can manage other people?
Do I want to work even harder than I do now?
Whether or not we choose to grow our business is a very personal decision. Some of us will choose to hire other inspectors and get bigger. Others will choose to stay put, remaining a one-person show, and living with the benefits (and detriments) that come along with running a sole proprietorship.
Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.-T.S. Eliot
Whether you choose to stay, or grow is up to you. It’s not a decision that’s easily made after reading a blog post. It’s something that takes a lot of hard work, a lot of debate, and a lot of soul searching.
My only piece of advice is this: Know that you’re never going to find another you. Whoever you hire to work with you in your business is going to be a unique individual. No one will ever do things exactly the way you want them done.
There’s only one person who’s going to do things “the right way,” your way, the way you want your business to operate. And that person already works for you: it’s you.
So, if you’re the type of person who cannot see someone ever working for you that doesn’t do things exactly like you do, then maybe expanding your business isn’t such a good move for you.
But, if you’re OK with the fact that you’ll be able to find someone who isn’t exactly the inspector you want them to be, but they’re good enough to be the inspector you need them to be, then maybe hiring someone to help you would be a good move.
Stay or grow. It’s all up to you.
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