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Growth for growth’s sake

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Wednesday September 30, 2009 )

You want to grow your online business? How much do you want to grow it? What’s your goal?

Everyone gets so stuck on growth these days and in a small online business, it can be a real trap. You don’t *have* to grow forever and a day. Don’t let the multi-nationals be your role models if you have no intention of becoming one.

Never-ending growth is not necessarily an indication of success and the pursuit of that sort of growth can really backfire on a small online business owner.

For the micro-business, perhaps consisting of just a couple of people or even a one person show, focusing on growth can stop you running your business and instead have your business running you.

It’s all well and good to burn the midnight oil for a few years to get things cranking; but you need to ask yourself – at what point can you stop? Without clear goals, you likely never will.

One of the problems of growth is that it can often be expensive; in terms of not just money, but your life.

More orders can mean more hours for you; perhaps hours you don’t have. It can mean more hassles and headaches. This can impact on your health and happiness.

When small business owners are drowning in work, often the strategy is to put someone else on. The problem there is if you’re paying someone Y bucks an hour; their efforts often need to be generating Y x 2 bucks an hour in sales for it to be worth your while as a money making exercise. There’s not a lot of point putting people on and then it eating into the profits you have worked so hard to make unless you’re happy to make that sacrifice.

Having staff also brings other challenges – after all, you’re dealing with humans and not robots. And what happens if you do hit a bumpy period? You not only have your own financial needs to worry about, but those of your staff too.

There’s been many times over the years I’ve found myself wondering if I was running my business or if it was running me to my own detriment. It’s at that point I take stock of things again. If I’m making my targets in terms of income and doing so comfortably, then I wind back a little to avoid a total crash and burn.

Most of us get into business not just to make cash, but to have some control, to enjoy our work – when that stops happening, it’s time to take a deep breath and think where it may be taking you vs. where you actually want to go.


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