Aligning Small Business Actions with the Right Timing for Success

Aligning Small Business Actions with the Right Timing for Success

Today’s episode dives deep into the crucial alignment of business activities and their proper timing. It’s a guide for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs who swear by the mantra of not just surviving but thriving in their ventures. Commitment to this journey is akin to marathon training – a progressive adaptation rather than a sprint. 

I was thinking about some lessons that I try to teach my kids, and the one thing that I have been talking to them about for ages is the concept of having a good intention but being in the wrong place at the wrong time and getting into trouble. If you’re a parent, I’m sure you have had the wrong place, wrong time conversation with your kids. 

That’s when I realized that business owners are doing the same thing or similar. They have good intentions, but it is the wrong project or action at the wrong time in their business.

We’re going to discuss the importance of understanding the startup phase, what it really takes, and how to ensure you’re not jumping ahead of yourself, leading to avoidable pitfalls. Plus, I’ll be talking about an exclusive offer that just might be the helping hand your business needs to elevate from grinding gears to cruising altitude.

The Reality of Start-Up: A True Test of Business Endurance

When starting a business, it’s not uncommon to feel like you’re navigating through a dense fog. The startup phase is rife with excitement, but it’s also filled with challenges, particularly around product validation, identifying your target market, and securing proper capitalization. 

During this early stage, many entrepreneurs make the error of allocating resources to branding, elaborate websites, and marketing campaigns. As my friend Michelle Warner emphasizes, and as I echo on this podcast, the primary focus must be sales. It’s about understanding that you shouldn’t waste time grinding on the wrong elements at this tender phase of your business.

Understanding Your Business Timeline

How often have we asked, “How long will it take to…?” We desperately seek time frames, hungry for the comfort of certainty. But, just as I’ve found on my own journey, the timeline for each business’ growth and profitability is unique. As mentioned in this episode, based on the research by Neil Churchill and Virginia Lewis from 1983, recognizing what stage your business is at cannot be overstated.

If you’re elbow-deep in the startup phase, here’s a reality check: significant financial investment is required without an immediate reward. This is your sprint for validation, your grind for traction, and it’s likely you won’t be paying yourself just yet. But remember, it’s about investing smartly, not just heavily. 

Starting Right: A Foundation for Lasting Success

It’s about foreseeing the entrepreneurial journey and preparing yourself for the role you must play at every stage. What works at the startup phase might not translate well into the growth phase. Your skills as a founder must evolve as your company grows.

In the thick of it all, take a step back and assess – are you equipping your business for real growth or just padding the walls of the startup comfort zone? Are you plunging into growth projects without laying the groundwork? Are you, perhaps, considering writing a book as a marketing tool but overlooking the costs and timing?

At the end of the startup phase, you’re going to know, “Is this something I even want to do?” Here’s the exciting thing that I think works for people in start-up. There’s a lot of excitement. This is new. I call it newbie naivete. I sometimes wish that I could go back to those early years in 2014 when I started up this business. I didn’t quite know what I know today because that newbie naivete really carried me far, and it should. You should be excited. This is exciting.

Then, the excitement starts to wear off because you need to get results. You need to be producing something. Something needs to be happening from the efforts that you’re putting in so that you can be rewarded.

You exit that startup phase when you have a clear path to profitability and paying yourself, and where you have made sales, you have tested the offer, service, or even your sales process. It is working. You’re building your network. You have champions who are referring you, who are giving you reviews, who are buying from you again.

Fine-Tuning Your Business Machine For Growth (or Survival) 

This is a really painful, painful place to be in business. It’s frustrating; your home life is probably starting to degrade a little bit. You’re bringing some stress home, and probably a lot of the good habits that you once had around working out and eating well are starting to diminish because you have so much responsibility on your plate.

The mistake that I see business owners make is that they’re trying to buy themselves out of work. They’re trying to buy back their time in this phase, and it’s a little too soon. You’re going to start to lay the groundwork, but you’re still primarily doing a lot of the work.

Even though you have some people working for you, whether maybe they’re part-time, maybe it’s one employee, maybe it’s some contractors, what you’re able to pay them isn’t really going to be what you could pay a real top-notch executive or performer.

We went from a time that was really deeply experimental, as it should be, to like you’re continuing to experiment. At some point, the experiments need to stop because you’re throwing too much spaghetti at the wall, you’re over-complicating things, and you’re funding growth projects that are at the wrong time.

Overinvesting In Marketing Assets Before You’re Frameworks Are Ready

One example that I can think of is service-based businesses, consultants, coaches, maybe accountants, or attorneys. I’ve seen financial planners do this. They want to write a book. Now, make no mistake: writing a book is a marketing tool, even for authors who are picked up by larger publishing houses.

They make their money on speaking, not necessarily on the sale of the book. If you’re going to write a book in your business, this is a marketing tool. At this phase, it’s probably too soon. You’re also going to need a ghostwriter, so there’s a cost to this. Then, you’re going to need to publish it, and you’re likely self-publishing.

This can very quickly run itself up to a $20,000 to $40,000 marketing expense, but you probably haven’t worked with enough clients to write this book, to give enough examples, to really detail your process in a way that’s going to lead to sales.

Scaling Your Systems Too Soon

You might be using something like Flodesk or Mailchimp for email. Then you might decide that you’re going to go with and move—because you’re a big business now—to something like Keap, and take on so much more of an expense.

Or this is where we start to see people thinking that they don’t need to use free tools anymore, that they’re going to pay for all their tools. Those are also ways that businesses in growth start to bleed out. This is a time when you want to be focused on niching down or narrowing your focus, being more discerning in your customers, your clients, and who you take on. You’re going to want to start firing some clients. You want to start saying no.

This is where you need to really be discerning in your decision-making and start focusing on the great and not the good. You’re going to be raising your prices. You’re going to be streamlining your products and services. 

Documentation and organizing all this stuff is important, and it comes later. You’re still in that chaos. You want to be moving fast right now. This is a place where many people get stuck, though. This is where people start to create themselves a job and not necessarily a business. 

If you hang out in this phase too long, this is where you start to be that stereotypical mom-and-pop. This is where if you hang out for too long, you’re going to be in feast-and-famine and survival mode.

Now, you only leave this stage if you’ve mastered your cash flow and if you know your numbers, which is why having something like Profit First is so important. 

I would probably speculate that the main reason why businesses don’t exit this stage is because they do not have this one system nailed down. 

What’s Next and How We Can Help

This year at The Bold Money Revolution, we’re honing in on those transformative shifts that can guide businesses from survival mode to growth and beyond. Are you stuck in that startup phase, struggling to transition? Keep an eye out for our six-week intensive program designed to free up your operational and mental bandwidth.