Around 40% of UK workers have a ‘side hustle’ (including their own business), according to research conducted by the Henley Business School, with uncertainty about work, a desire for a better standard of living, and the desire to face new challenges being three key reasons why. Ensuring your business thrives without your ‘standard job’ suffering – and vice versa – can be a big challenge, but getting the balance right isn’t a matter of intuition or chance. Rather, it involves creating a strict business strategy you follow to the letter, without wavering from what is probably your ultimate goal: being your own boss, 24/7.
What are the Elements of Business Growth?
The key elements of most business growth strategies include leadership (vision, knowledge, risk taking), marketing (connecting with your audience via social media and branding), sales, tech (relying on the right people to solve technical glitches), and support (having a team that attends to clients quickly and efficiently). All these elements are far easier to run smoothly when your business is a full-time occupation. However, when you only have part of the day to dedicate yourself to each department, time management is key.
Building Your Plan
For each key element of your strategy, goals and time limits should be set. For instance, if you are selling your services as a writer, legal professional, or accountant, set reasonable goals for areas like marketing and social media. How many followers do you have on Instagram and Twitter, for instance? How many do your competitors have? What number can you set as a goal and how many weeks or months will you give yourself to achieve it?
Branding is another area that should be broken down into components with time limits for each task. Your brand should connect with your target audience via the right logo, website content, and social media channels. Technical knowledge is another problem. Try to think of what might be standing in the way of a smooth customer experience. Is your website mobile compatible? Does your page take too long to load? You can tackle many problems yourself. However, when you are truly stuck, don’t waste valuable time trying to solve a problem that needs technical knowledge. Rely on trusted professionals when you are stuck in a rut.
Take Calculated Risks
Growing as a business involves stepping outside your comfort zone frequently. As stated by Amy Morin, author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, fear causes you to overestimate risk. However, the difference between an ordinary and extraordinary life, lies precisely in your willingness to embrace change. Calculated risks are not based simply on ‘gut instinct’. T
hey involve researching into possible losses, having a “Plan B”, and seeking advice from valued mentors. Request feedback from trusted entrepreneurs and be especially open when they point out possible flaws or mistakes. When you take risks, check periodically that they are bearing fruit. If something isn’t working, change your strategy to minimize loss.
Validate Your Idea
There are many ways that business ideas can be validated, one of which involves developing an MVP (minimum viable product) and seeing your target audience’s reaction to it. If it’s an app, for instance, test your MVP on investors, mentors, and your target audience. Ask for feedback so as to tweak any existing glitches. Conduct keyword searches with WordStream or Moz Keyword Explorer, to find out the existing supply for the demand your product is meant to fulfill. Ensure your business offers greater value than your competitors, and make a social media schedule, using various media to share awareness about your product.
Products like Hootsuite (which allows you to programme your social media uploads days in advance) exist to help you save time. However, this and other tools only work if you set a schedule for them that you stick to – even on days on which you feel tired after a full day at work.
By defining key tasks, setting goals and time limits, taking risks, and obtaining feedback, you can grow at a steady pace, staying motivated until the day you can dedicate all of your time to your true passion.
By Cassandra McNulty