In 2014, I had both the best and worst year of my life!
I fell in love.
My business fell apart.
It was my third year in business and it started off great. I had a full roster of clients, new ideas for programs launches and scheduled speaking opportunities. I was on track to earn six figures.
However, at the same time, I wanted to make more room for my new relationship. I thought my team was ready.
There’s nothing like the prioritization of newfound love to reveal where your business needs to level up to adequately operate without you.
I soon found out that my team wasn’t able to keep up with existing, or new, client work. Simple things like email newsletters and marketing activities weren’t completed on time. Contracts were never sent and clients were onboarded 72 hours late. Project deadlines were completely missed.
But wait—it got worse.
Billing errors were a new reality; as some of my clients were charged twice.
All of these misses would mean the loss of one of my biggest contracts.
My business (and life) grew faster than I could handle. I needed my business to grow enough to handle my life.
Scaling Love and Business
After returning from a three week whirlwind tour of London and Paris, with my love, I returned home to the fallout: a loss of a client totaling $3,500 per month in revenue, $5,000 in refunds to 3 clients in one month, and a launch that was placed on the back burner – estimated at $10,000 in lost revenue.
There was no mental space or capacity to launch new projects, so I didn’t’ and in addition to losing money, I left money on the table.
I had waited years to finally find love, have the flexibility to travel, and to own a successful business. When it all came crashing down, I felt as though I couldn’t have the best of both worlds: a happy business and a happy life.
Yet, deep down I knew that wasn’t true.
This experience reinforced key lessons—two things I now know to be true:
In business you need an all-star team of starters supporting you, not the bench squad; and
You will know what’s right for your business and you need to trust your instincts when making decisions.
If you’ve ever found yourself in a similar scenario, or worse, here’s how I got back on track (and you can too) in less than 90 days.
Halt new business activities.
I stopped signing new clients. I then sent a notice to existing clients letting them know about the impending delays. This set client expectations appropriately, protecting my brand, as I started immediately fixing the broken areas of my business. When things are off in business, the worst thing you can do is attempt to cover it up. Instead, communicate early and reset expectations.
Complete a systems overhaul.
This dire situation shed light on the bottlenecks in my systems. I had unknowingly created some systems that couldn’t work without me. So, I fixed each breakdown in our teams’ communication process. They no longer needed me to execute on recurring deliverables.
Let go of the weakest links.
Most people start here and clean house. But the truth is, you shouldn’t make rash staffing decisions until you’re clear it’s them and not the system, you created, that sets them up to fail. Once I fixed my systems, it immediately revealed those on the team that were no longer able to contribute to the company’s growth. It was hard to part ways, but I could see that failing to fire fast would result in continuous losses – even in light of the fact that systems were refined.
Resume client acquisition.
Bringing in new revenue is about identifying the money you are leaving on the table, making time to be creative, and getting new ideas out into the world fast – all the while, having a life.
After my overhaul, I had space to take on the right clients; which started to bring in $10,000 per month in revenue. My team was re-trained to work on their own, which allows me free time to travel with my love, at anytime.
Best of all, I’m now spending less time working on client projects and more time developing new content, programs, and building my business.
A year later, I am confident that I can step away and come back to a business that is still intact and capable of growing without me.
The secret to creating success is not that you have more time. It’s that you aren’t doing everything yourself.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Sonaya Williams, creator of The Business Automator, is a speaker and consultant on the topics of having the right tools and team to end day the today chaos in your business. She teaches business owners how to automate, systematize, and grow their business with new revenue to support their lifestyle. Connect with @sonayawilliams on Twitter.
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