It continues to surprise me how many new entrepreneurs launch businesses with only the sketchiest
notion of where they’d like the business to go. They know they want to be, say, a men’s clothing retailer, or provide bookkeeping services, or manufacture soaps. But often they haven’t decided how large they would like this business to become, or how willing they are to expand their product or service offerings to meet market demand.
A very fundamental question these people should ask themselves first is how much growth they want for this business. It’s important to have a vision with realistic goals about what you can do. A vision provides focus and directs strategic decisions.
Can you see yourself staying the course in the same small business five years from now, or do you picture yourself expanding geographically or into other products or services? Will you remain a solopreneur or a mom-and-pop business, or would you like to grow as large as the market will bear? (And do you know how big that can potentially be?)
If you know you want to keep it a small one-person or family operation, you’ll make different choices about every aspect of your business, from marketing to operations, than if you want it to grow.
If you dream of your business growing, some key questions to ask yourself are:
* How large would I like my business to be? If your mind doesn’t see limits, read on and ask some more.
* What experience do I have hiring and managing employees? If you’ve managed others in your earlier career, you are far more likely to be successful at growing your businesses beyond what you can handle on your own. Do you consider yourself a successful manager? Read on.
* Am I willing to share control of the business with other capable people? If you can choose
trusted partners with complementary skills, your business has far greater growth potential. Even if you are immensely talented, there are limits to what one person can do.
* Can I accept investors’ restrictions in exchange for their providing funds? Are you breaking
new ground? It will be challenging to sell investors on the way you want to operate. To minimize their risk, they may require limits on your plan. If you can’t live with that, you’ll need to bear the risk yourself and fund your business yourself.
Make sure you know where you want to go. As Alice, in Wonderland, learned from the owl at the fork in the road, if you don’t know where you want to go, it doesn’t matter which direction you choose. Know where you want to go, if you want to get there!