Your business may be doing well, but is it growing?
Starting a business is a stressful endeavor. You must find office space, raise capital, write a business plan, quit your day job and launch your product or service. The prospect of failure looms until one day you feel like you finally carved out your niche in the market and achieved some stability.
But is that enough?
For most entrepreneurs, the answer is no. They want more, bigger, better. They want higher sales numbers, a bigger staff, more inventory. They want to move from shared office space into their own area.
How to get to this point is the part many struggle with.
Choose Employees Carefully
When your business is growing, you need more help. You may wish you could do everything yourself, but that isn’t practical, and it’s often not even possible.
Before you start interviewing potential candidates, make a list not only of the skills you are looking for, but the qualities you want in an employee as well. Look for clues during interviews that might reveal a candidate’s personality. Will they be dedicated and hard-working? Easy to get along with and good with customers? Highly skilled in their specialty?
It can sometimes seem like some of these qualities are mutually exclusive. You may wonder how you got so lucky to find a certain talented, creative individual. It’s only later you find out it’s because they frequently show up late (or not at all). So do you choose the candidate whose work isn’t as good but is always reliably at their desk?
It depends on your goals. Maybe you could turn the position into two part-time jobs. Anticipating these questions and having the answers ahead of time makes the hiring process that much easier.
What About Office Space?
When you’re considering how many people you need to hire and what you expect them to do, you also must consider your office space. Do you have enough room for two employees? How soon do you expect to grow again? You don’t want to sign a lease for office space that doesn’t suit your needs.
Temporary office space might be the answer for your business. Temporary and shared office space is both economical and flexible. It gives you access to desks, telephones, workstations and more. This type of arrangement is ideal because you can change it at any time. Do you need more office space? Done. Meeting rooms? Check. A physical address where you can receive mail and products? It’s there for you.
The availability of this type of office space is changing not just how startups work, but whether they work at all.
Expand Your Market
Another way to grow your business is to get more customers by diversifying your product or service. Say, for instance, you are selling funky athletic sneakers and your target market is teenage boys. You’re doing well and making a profit. But there are only so many teenage boys, and not all of them want funky athletic sneakers.
The likelihood of capturing the interest of retired Baby Boomers with your funky athletic sneakers is low. Your marketing dollars would not be well-spent targeting this demographic. But what if you targeted teenage girls? You’d likely have to tweak your product. Maybe you could design a sneaker that is more lightweight, features softer or brighter colors, or has a high heel!
Eventually you may develop sneakers that appeal to soccer moms or weekend warriors, but earmarking your expansion funds astutely gives you a better chance at achieving success, and in this case, slow and steady growth.
Set a Marketing Budget
How often have you heard people claim, “I can’t afford to advertise!” But every successful businessperson knows you can’t afford not to advertise. It’s true — it can get expensive, and your profit margin might be low if you’re still a relatively new business, so you have to maximize your dollars. Your best bet in the initial stages is to go with a company that has been around long enough to know what they are doing, but not so big that they only handle accounts like Apple and Adidas.
Marketing is an imprecise craft. It can sometimes be hard to see concrete results. If your marketing company takes out ads on a particular website and you see a coordinating definitive bump in sales, you know you’re on the right path. But it’s not usually that easy. It can take six months to a year to see the benefits of some marketing campaigns, and many business owners are too impatient and quit before they see any real results.
Trust a marketing company that has longevity and satisfied customers, so you know the money you invest will bring measurable improvements.
Practice True Focus
Today, the world is at your fingertips 24/7. The only way you can ever get away is to set your phone on do not disturb, pull the shades down and hide under the covers. But entrepreneurs often chafe at the very idea. They need to know what’s going on, who’s doing what, etc.
But constant connection can be a productivity killer. When you are working, how often do you check email or Facebook? How about your stocks or the weather? These seemingly innocent diversions can cumulatively waste hours every day.
If you must check email for work, only allow yourself to check it on a particular timetable — every hour, say, or every 15 minutes, depending on the necessity of timeliness in your line of work. And don’t read the mail that isn’t about work!
Another common way focus is pulled at work is through interacting with others. Sure, this is often required to get the job done, but too often it can get out of control. Employees guffaw over videos and talk about their weekends. No one wants to be the bad guy. What’s the best way to deal with rampant inattention?
With walls and doors.
Many employers who want to save money warehouse employees in cubicles, but this can be a recipe for disaster. Besides the common problems of neighbors yakking away to their friends on the phone, playing music and eating smelly foods loudly, you have to contend with constant interruptions and conversations — and many of these have at least one reluctant participant!
The answer is to enforce a closed-door policy in your office space. The open-door policy of previous years was meant to encourage communication between management and workers, and although interaction is helpful, you can have too much of a good thing. Plan times of day when doors are open and other times when doors are closed to promote focus and concentration.
This can be challenging, depending on the type of office space you have. If you use shared office space, it can sometimes actually help. If employees from different companies are all sitting in the same room, social norms will dictate that everyone stay quiet. It’s when everyone knows each other that the barriers are broken down and productivity drops.
If you are renting temporary office space, or you have a lease for shared office space, you may be able to make some adjustments to how you situate your employees. If you have yet to move into office space, consider the size of your staff now and whether it will grow, and what type of configuration might work best for your company.
Take Advantage of Support Systems
With nine locations throughout the Washington D.C. area (including locations in Maryland and Virginia), Metro Offices has the office space you need. From meeting rooms to temporary and shared office spaces, Metro Offices provides the best in professional options for your company, no matter the size. With 25 years of experience, we offer not only the space you need, but also targeted support in logistics, technology, infrastructure and more at all levels.
For more advice on how to grow your business and how Metro Offices can help you, contact us today.