Have you reached a plateau in your existing business? We get it — building your first business can be trying, and many millennial entrepreneurs end up hitting a slump when they finally get things going. But there is a solution. If you want to break free from your reliance on a singular enterprise, find out the five things that every entrepreneur should know, but which are rarely talked about.
It’s likely that you have some of the answers already. We’ll show you how to find them, as well as how you can scale up your existing business to become an entire group of enterprises that work in each others’ favor.
You might have guessed that a lot of these suggestions will involve utilizing modern technologies. And if you made this assumption, you were right. From getting social media savvy to surfing the web to find freelancers, we outline the different digital strategies that you should be implementing to save you time and ensure success.
- Pick a Niche and Stick with It
One of the easiest ways to expand your business portfolio is to pick a niche and stick with it. If you become a master at your craft, whether it be as technical as engineering or as artistic as design, you will find it easier to venture into different businesses within this specialism.
Getting to know a specific sector and building up a specialist set of skills will also allow you to easily identify gaps in the market. Living and breathing a profession will give you the opportunity to discover the sometimes not-so-obvious pain points that your customers experience.
Let’s look at an example. Mary is the owner of a small salon. She is also looking to expand further in her career. She asks herself, using her knowledge of professional hair care, what other services her customers need. What pain points do her customers have in common? Mary thinks about this for a while and realizes that a lot of her customers come back to her praising her work. In fact, they never would have thought up such an inventive hairstyle themselves. But they all struggle to recreate anything similar at home or make it look as good as she did on a day-to-day basis. This is their pain point.
So how can Mary monopolize this? Her customers need a solution. Could this be an “at-home maintenance plan” to preserve the hard work carried out in the salon? You can see how this thought process could quickly create a profitable business plan. Creating an at-home range of products and an informational guide is a natural progression for Mary towards owning multiple enterprises.
Mary can now continue her existing enterprise (the physical salon) while building her online store, which will house her new range of styling products. She can work to build the business’s social channels to show other people how her at-home kit works and, more importantly, because Mary has developed her second business from her specialist niche, she can market her new products to her existing clients at the hair salon. However, this isn’t a one-way benefit — if Mary’s website and social promotions attract fresh leads, these could also be potential new customers for her salon.
Like Mary, you will already have a niche without realizing it. What sector do you currently work in? Which market do you currently serve? Stick with this and brainstorm other ways you can be diverse in your entrepreneurship. By utilizing the skill set and knowledge you already possess, you should be able to identify a new opportunity.
- Outsource the Basics to Get More Done
The next step is to learn how to outsource basic tasks to others so that you can save time for specialist jobs that can only be done by you — the expert. Most entrepreneurs find this difficult, but loosening the reins will give you a further opportunity to upgrade your business portfolio. You just have to trust the process.
Let’s check on how Mary’s second enterprise is doing. It’s been a couple of months since Mary launched her at-home product range. As we previously advised, she made the most of her overlapping enterprises and held a launch party at her salon to promote the new business. This attracted both her existing clients and new leads, extending her client base for both enterprises. The success of her businesses has rocketed. This is great news, right? Except now Mary is struggling to keep up with her workload. She realizes that she might need a bit of help.
Understandably, Mary feels like she wants to continue her client work to perform her signature style, but she also wants to be involved with the formula and branding of her products. How else could Mary save time? Mary decides to outsource her client bookings to a virtual receptionist. This way, the customer journey won’t change significantly and she can still provide an authentic experience, but she can invest the time she usually spends taking calls and noting appointments into developing a third enterprise.
By this point, Mary has become a well-known hair stylist and her expert advice is being sought more frequently. She decides that she wants to create a side business that builds her personal brand. Mary is going to create a YouTube channel where she shares regular updates about new hair trends, product reviews, and even occasional entrepreneurship advice. By saving time by using a virtual receptionist, Mary is now the owner of three different enterprises.
- Strengthen Your Social Profiles
You should already be an avid social media user, as this is one of the most effective ways to speak to your customers. But if you want to be a seasoned entrepreneur, you should allocate some time to working on your personal social profiles. Why? Because your business growth is also largely related to the quality of your networking efforts.
Posting consistent sector insights across your social profiles is a way to position yourself as a leader in your field. This is important, as you want to appear as an authoritative source. You should also spend time improving your engagement on social media by interacting with other users’ profiles. This isn’t about being superficial or targeting individuals in an underhand manner. Your social growth should come from a place of genuine engagement where you are building a community of reliable contacts.
At this point in the process, Mary will be focusing on updating her social profiles to drive traffic to her newly created YouTube channel. She might even have her own posting schedule set up. Her LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter account will become a great resource for her if she continues to network and build a strong circle of influence.
Remember, you never know what opportunities other people may bring you.
- Automate Your Processes
Have you reached the point where you want to become even more productive? You should consider automating your operations. Understandably, there are some instances where automation isn’t suitable. For example, automation will not help in circumstances when you want to retain a human element. In Mary’s case, she employed a virtual receptionist to take client calls. Mary could have used an automated chatbot to do this, but she didn’t because she wanted to maintain a personable feel in her booking process.
However, this doesn’t mean that all automation is bad. Processes that deal with data are often the ones that you should automate. Consider automating your social schedule so that you never miss a day of posting, or slice your operations schedule in half by using financial programs to sort through your invoices and payslips.
Automation can help with all sorts of things. Remember when we said it’s important to appear authoritative? Depending on your sector, it might be helpful to conduct some research. Automation can help you compile the data that you have collected and format it so that the results can be instantly shared to your circle.
- Consider Hiring a Management Team
Entrepreneurs with more experience tend to become more geographically scattered. Take Mary, for example. After her product launch and the success of her YouTube channel, demand for her styling services has spread. To satisfy this new demand, she might decide to open up an entire chain of hair salons across the region she is based in.
Of course, Mary can’t physically work in all the stores that she has set up. At this point, it would be useful for Mary to hire a management team. This is a bit different from outsourcing. While you can technically outsource management, you need to pay careful attention to who you are entrusting your business to. You want to build a team that embodies your ethos and brand identity, and employs effective communication.
Scaling up at a sustainable pace — just like Mary has — will allow you to appropriately deal with the various challenges that come with expansion. Creating permanent structures such as a management hierarchy can be complicated, as you’ll have to think about overarching concepts like your company culture. In this sense, the biggest tip for successful owning more than one enterprise is to constantly have quality control on your agenda. You should only expand your business ventures if the opportunity doesn’t pose a threat to your existing enterprise.
Rory Whelan is a communications expert with over twenty years experience in consultancy, television, media, and telecoms. He frequently writes about the benefits of business phone plans for corporate leaders who are on the go and in need of increased flexibility or remote access.
Since 2012, he has held the role of marketing manager for eReceptionist, establishing it as the favorite call management company of UK SMEs. The solution attracts a wide range of small businesses, allowing them to manage their professional image and gain a virtual office address to relieve them of needing to be in any one physical location.