Running a slow-growth small business

Not everyone wants to create a million-pound business. A significant number of small business owners don't want to grow too big, they want to do what they're good at and earn a decent wage and at the same time, enjoy a balanced and fulfilling work/life balance. The attraction to business ownership for many - especially women juggling children - is more about creative pursuits and career flexibility than monetary gain.

But even if you don't want to grow too big you can't stagnate - a small business still has to move forward so you don't fall behind the competition. You can read the full article on the US Office Online site, but here's a summary of their five tips for keeping a slow-growing business efficient and healthy.

  • Define success in quantitative terms. When your business has become profitable you need to start thinking about the next operating milestone, such as benefits for staff (if you have any) and yourself. You need to pay fair salaries, cover taxes, health-insurance, business liability insurance, etc, and you want to ensure you have enough in your pension fund when you decide to retire or sell.   

  • Reduce dependence on any single customer or partner. Even the best-performing companies are vulnerable to fast failure if their revenues or profits are tied to one customer, one distributor, or one business partnership. With each passing year in business, dependencies should shrink to the point where no single relationship loss can put your company out of business.

  • Improve largest-customer profitability. Ideally, a small company's largest customers should be its most profitable customers. It is surprising how many business owners accept the reverse situation. Entrepreneurs who want to stay small and productive must favour customers who value their work and are willing to pay top rates for it.

  • Identify backup support staff. What do you do if you suddenly get three orders within one hour, when you normally get one a week? It may be useful to identify project consultants or part-time support staff that you can call on when you need to. There are plenty of others out there doing similar, flexible working and would be willing to help, especially if they're in a ‘down' time.

  • Reduce time allocated administrative tasks. How often do you check your emails? Every time one pops up on screen? Once an hour? Ring-fence email time to perhaps twice a day and push all other non-urgent administrative tasks - invoicing, office supply trips, miscellaneous correspondence - to once a week, preferably Friday afternoon.

If your business is growing and you're a little uneasy about where it's taking you, you'll find some useful advice in this article, Keep control over your growing business.

Related posts:  Have you got what it takes to run a small business?      Buying a business? Get advice from Small Business+

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