In the beginning, you may be the only person working in your business, which usually means you are the business.

Usually, this means you are working on it by working in it, and this may continue as you employ staff through your initial phase of growth. But as you start to enjoy some success, you need to work more on the business to maintain the same rate of growth.

It is so easy to be drawn into spending more time in the business to keep up and try and cover all the shifts. This happens when we are not confident our current growth will continue, and we tell ourselves it is too risky to make the next hire. Subsequently, there is less time to work on the business, and sure enough, the growth flattens off, meaning your doubt becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

For your business to continue to grow, you must focus on continually maintaining and fuelling your momentum.

While there are plenty of strategies to do that, the bare minimum is to at least maintain your existing or budgeted improvement and sales growth. This needs your consistent and regular attention and not simply when you are exhausted on your one day off. This is part of creating increased capacity. Without it, you cannot grow your business.

By maintaining a clear focus on your available customers and exactly what they want, you can better target your product and services to do a better job, deliver better value and target your marketing to connect with your target customer. Working on the business includes:

– Maintaining the reporting to know your numbers, continuing to maintain the
structures training marketing
– Product improvement that gives your customers what they want.

Ideally, these things are managed by you, not progressively done by you. Strive for and enjoy those moments when you are getting someone in to do the work you dislike the most.
Always engage the best person you can afford, not the cheapest person you can find
because nine times out of ten, it will end up costing you far more.

Periodically it is important to check why your customers use your services as this reason
may change over time. Initially, a family may come to your restaurant to celebrate special occasions with their teenagers. The teenagers leave home, but the parents still come, not to celebrate so much but to enjoy the familiarity they have created with you, the good memories and because it has become an enjoyable habit. It may be very important to them that your staff know them, having spoken at various times, having created a connection.

Working on the business is having time to learn and implement the things that will move you closer to your 3 and 5-year goals. If you are not doing this, you are simply reacting to the business demands of the day and will not be developing your business to better serve you. Important business goals may be to:

– Give you the income and time off that you want
– Develop an exit strategy
– Capacity development
– Enabling you to scale up the number of locations you have to allow your staff a career path.

Working on the business will nearly always be future-focused, so this can be a great test of whether you are doing enough “on the business” work.

Hey, I realise not everyone wants to grow their business and in fact there is a large proportion of small business owners who want to stay small and just make a good income. It is still important to work on your business, even if it is only to keep your business systems up to date, at the very least, it keeps it easier for new staff to get up to speed and fit in. If at some point you get sick or want to retire, someone else will be able to successfully sell the business.

Published in M2 Magazine

Mark Collins
Hospitality Business Coach
thinking@markcollins.co.nz