How to Grow a Business – Lessons Learned in the Trenches

Grow a Business

Have you been through any birth pangs lately?

No, not THAT kind of birth — it’s been a while since my family has welcomed a baby.

I mean business birth pangs.

You know, the pushing, pulling, and praying that goes along with entrepreneurship.

Here are a few of the things I’ve discovered about how to grow a business.

I hope you’ll share your own realizations too.

How to Grow a Business – Lessons Learned in the Trenches

I’ve been doing a lot of transitioning here at Wiser Sites lately. We’ve been busy solidifying the foundational processes: getting our LLC and bank accounts set up, covering our insurance needs, separating the business from my personal accounts, hiring additional staff, figuring out our bookkeeping cycle, and learning to deal with W2’s and W9’s…  there’s a ton of “business stuff” to figure out.

We’re also determining the financial metrics we want to track, and we’ve been choosing the various tools  and configurations to help us determine things like fixed costs, variable costs, how to project business growth, and how to know for sure whether or not we’re operating profitably.

So, it would seem perfectly normal that I would’ve taken care of all these essential pieces right from the start — correct? I should have covered those bases on Day One of my business launch.

Growing a Business - Lessons Learned in the Trenches. #startupClick To Tweet

Launching a business isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation

Well as I got to going back over my business, from the beginning to now, the idea hit me that not all entrepreneurs start out thinking, “Hey, I’m gonna build a business; I’m gonna build a company, bootstrap it, finance it and make it work.”

Many business owners start out either self-employed or other-employed (“other-employed” means you’re working full-time for one company and part-time at something else).

In my case, I was doing missions work for my main employment and had established a funding pool to cover some of our expenses — but I still needed to raise more money. I needed an additional revenue stream.

So I started building websites and helping Churches with their marketing. At that point, though, I wasn’t building a business. I was a missionary.  I wasn’t a web developer, I didn’t have any desires or dreams to that end. I didn’t think that was what I wanted to be.

When we start out, not all of us really know where we’re headed. Then after a while, one might realize, “Hey I’m starting to generate a substantial income. This is going good. Maybe I could actually quit my other job and focus on this full time.”

So you end up creating a job for yourself. You’re self-employed, but still trading hours for dollars.

It’s not absolutely necessary to worry about all the foundational things in the beginning. Your clients are hiring  you as an independent contractor. For the most part, tracking your business is pretty simple.

But the moment you decide you really want to keep going and build a business — that’s when the moment arrives when you say, “Hey I need to decide on a business form and get things set up better.”

So, like I said… that’s where I’ve been lately.

It’s time to cover ALL the bases.

It's time to cover ALL the bases...Click To Tweet

How about you and your business launch?

So where are you in this cycle? Are you other-employed? Are you self-employed? Are you ready to become a small business owner? Are you ready to build a business and take the leap?

If so, then you’ve got some steps to take. At first, it all seems cumbersome. In the end, though, the effort is well worth it.

Here’s one lesson I want to pass on: Our bookkeeping was so tangled and messy that we had to do a bunch of backtracking and figuring out what went where.

I wish I would of had some of those things set up before.

Wherever you are with your business right now, even if you’ve no intention of making a “real business,” even if you are perfectly content working at an hourly wage for someone else or outsourcing your work — whether you’re a designer or a virtual assistant — I encourage you to clearly define your business and consider at least a couple of the fundamentals: Is it time to set up as an LLC, and S Corporation, or other business form? Is it time to separate your personal and business bank accounts?

Whether you want to keep growing or stay small,  a little bit of organization can go a long way. It can keep you from pulling your hair out at tax time, and it can tell you — in an instant — whether or not you are operating profitably.

Don’t be like the rancher who grinned when the reporter asked how he had become a millionaire by herding cattle. “It was easy,” quipped the cowboy, “I started off as a billionaire!”

Do you have a few birth pangs of your own to share?

I’d love to hear them.

Comments are open. Hop on in!

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Host of "Get on Track, Stay on Track" weekly interview series, helping your small business one expert at a time.And CEO of Wiser Sites, a general contractor and marketing agency - connecting your customers with your products.

2 Comments on “How to Grow a Business – Lessons Learned in the Trenches

  1. Hi Jason,

    I love the new financial reports and statements from Paypal. I learned the hard way when I first started with money in personal and money in business and it all getting tangled like you said.

    After that mess, I began trying to tie all my business accounts that I could through my PayPal business account. This makes things so much easier when tax time comes along and trying to gather up financial statements.

    Thanks for such an important topic to be shared.


    • I am surprised that more Business coaches don’t drive this point home. Separate your business and your personal accounts.
      I hear it all the time what a nightmare it is, 3 years into doing business, to try to separate the two.

      In fact, I have a nightmare going on right now with my Quickbooks. At least I am using “classes” to separate the accounts, but I wish I could pull out my personal altogether. But the problem is how to export 4 years of data, categories, etc… So now, I am pretty much stuck with it.

      The other concern is, When I want to sell my company, now I need to find a way to clean out my personal from the business so I can include the Quickbooks account as part of the company assets. ugh…

      Thanks for the comments Irish.

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