If you're like most entrepreneurs, chances are you've mastered the art of balancing multiple roles. Building a business from scratch often requires founders to continually reinvent themselves–as writers, designers, builders, marketers, sales experts, networkers, human resources professionals, social media mavens, accountants, administrative experts or all of the above–so that they can pitch in at a moment's notice and perform whatever jobs need to be done to move a project forward.
But as your business matures, you're likely to outgrow the need to juggle this large spectrum of roles– especially if the tasks you're currently doing are far removed from your skillset and training.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to grow your business so that you have the human resources and financial support to focus on the tasks that you love and excel at.
To grow, you'll need to delegate
The savviest business owners delegate tasks that they don't have the expertise in to others that they know can do the job effectively. In some cases, that may require hiring another employee or contractor. Or, depending on your industry, you may be able to delegate tasks by partnering with other businesses. If you aren't yet ready to hire someone full-time, look for affordable and time-bound opportunities to delegate at least some of your business processes. For example, consider hiring a part-time virtual assistant or working with an agency that sources talent for time-limited projects. As freelancing becomes more popular in a variety of fields, it's become easier than it used to be to hire first-rate professionals on a project-by-project basis. Or, if you're looking for a more meaningful commitment, consider bringing on a long-term business partner who's willing to invest their time and expertise in exchange for equity in your company.
Review your credit and financial standing
If you need more substantial help from full or part-time employees to move your business forward, then it's time to start looking at more robust funding sources. But before you can successfully apply for a loan or commit to a larger hiring budget that's funded solely through business savings or revenue, you'll first need to make sure you can afford it. Now's the time to fully audit your bank statements, business spending and credit standing.
By going through your finances carefully and granularly, you'll not only give yourself a clearer picture of your business's financial standing, but you'll also ensure that you don't apply for funding before you're ready.
To successfully apply for a business loan, for example, you'll need to be able to prove that you and your business are both on solid financial footing and that your business is set up for success. Don't forget to check your personal credit, too–especially if you don't yet have an established business credit established. An established business will have its own personal business credit score. But if your business is still growing, odds are that business lenders will also heavily weigh your personal credit history.
Spruce up your business plan
If you started building your business without drafting a formal business plan–or if you wrote one, but it's now collecting dust in a filing cabinet somewhere–it's not too late to start fresh. You'll need an updated business plan to convince banks and partners to lend you money. However, it's also a good idea to draft a business plan even if you don't plan to borrow funds. Writing down your plans can help you clarify your business’s processes, gain valuable perspective and think seriously about whether you're on the right path. It will also give you an opportunity to reconsider important decisions about your business, such as your current legal structure. Many entrepreneurs start off as sole proprietors, for example, but then decide to incorporate later on. In addition, some funding opportunities, including federal and provincial research and development tax credits, are only available to incorporated businesses. If you plan to apply for grants or seek other types of funding, you can also expect to receive detailed questions about your prospective budget and about the tools and resources that you plan to use to meet your goals. A well-drafted business plan can help prepare you for those questions.
Try the interactive Scotiabank Business Plan Writer to create your custom business plan.
Research grants and provincial business programs
There are a variety of business grants and programs available to help fund entrepreneurs. As a woman-owned business, you are at a particular advantage since a number of funding opportunities are designed specifically for women entrepreneurs. The government of Canada keeps an especially detailed and easy-to-sort list of grant opportunities, including federal and provincial programs. You can also find lists of grant opportunities on websites that are designed for entrepreneurs. In addition, consider joining professional associations in your field or local small business groups. Networking can be a great way to find out about less competitive grants and under-the-radar funding programs.
Leverage technology to set your business up for success
Finally, take advantage of the plethora of low-cost software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools that have popped up in recent years. As technology becomes increasingly accessible, it's become easier and more affordable than ever to use helpful tools, such as easy-to-use business automation, design software, or personal knowledge management tools to help organize your business and maintain it more efficiently.
By using the right resources and supportive tools, you can spend more time on generating ideas and creating long-term value for your business.
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