how to grow a business

How to Grow a Business: 9 of the Smartest Things You Can Do

When I decided to launch my business, I was blissfully unaware of a lot of stuff – about running a business, growing a business, you know … stuff. I was such an entrenched inhabitant of La La Land that I had no idea how hard being a small owner was. It was just, “I want to work from home and set my own hours and be my own boss.”

It’s been all daisies and sunshine and rainbows since then.

Not.

Want to know how to grow a business? Read on – and learn from nine things that have made a huge difference to my business.

1. Attend networking events – even when you don’t want to

I spent two years going to a lot of networking events and talking to a lot of people, most of them complete ass holes. I will never forget this one chamber of commerce event. I somehow found myself cornered by two government contractors who thought it would be entertaining to play the “Guess the Acronym” game with me. How clever.

However, without all that networking, there is literally no way I could have grown my business. Some of the people I met on the meet-and-greet circuit are now super close friends, a lot of them made fabulous introductions to other amazing people, and some of them are invaluable partners who I work with all the time. All the inane chatter and stupid people was worth it.

2. Use LinkedIn

It’s one thing to connect with people on LinkedIn, but it’s another thing to actually use and engage with your network. I have around 700 connections on LinkedIn, and I cannot emphasize enough how ridiculously powerful it has been for my business.

By publishing blog posts on there, I get WAY more exposure than I do on my blog, and I stay top-of-mind. When someone needs a copywriter, they come to me.

3. Add structure to your business

This is actually something I am doing right now. As we’ve gotten busier, Meg, Janine, and I have found ourselves juggling a lot of clients, a lot of projects, and a lot of deadlines. Things were starting to fall through the cracks. I was feeling overwhelmed. The occasional freak outs were starting to happen. Too much wine was being consumed at night.

Hence, some structure was needed. We now have a shared master editorial calendar and processes for client on boarding and project and account management. Yes I know – super sexy – but also super necessary.

4. Hire an amazing accountant

My poor accountant. Robin knows that everything she tells me goes in one ear and right out the other. I literally cannot absorb anything related to finance or accounting or taxes – it’s bizarre! Robin treats me like a wayward child – with love and firmness and a kick in the pants when I need it.

There is no way my business could function without her.

5. Embrace and learn from your stupid mistakes

Making stupid mistakes and learning from them is really good for a person, period. Despite the awfulness and embarrassment of making mistakes, I am a better person, leader, writer, and all around business person for it.

Also, making mistakes shows that you are challenging yourself, and that’s a very good thing for a small business owner. Standing still is the fastest way to kill a business.

6. Say yes a lot

I am a huge believer in the power of “no.” It’s one of my favorite words. However, I have learned that, in one particular business situation, ALWAYS say “yes.”

“Monika, I am submitting an RFP for a big project, and I’d like to include you as a sub on it. Do you have time on your plate?”

“Yes!” Even though I am up to my eyeballs in projects right now, the answer is always “yes.” Why? Because so many projects never come to fruition or get put on hold indefinitelyor are delayed for a couple of weeks. I don’t want to miss out on the ones that do happen – that’s just throwing money out the window. So, I say yes.

7. Ask for help

I am not shy about asking for help. Why try to reinvent the wheel when others have been there, done that? Exactly. Ask for help – you’ll be glad you did.

8. Help others

When I was starting out, I didn’t know any copywriters that I could turn to for advice or help or just to bounce ideas off of. Now, when someone wants to chat about how I got my business off the ground or how I approach certain projects, I am more than happy to jump on the phone. It’s the right thing to do. And it’s good karma.

9. Place a premium on your time

As I recounted in my blog post about the stupid mistakes I’ve made, I have given away my time and expertise for free. No more. Placing a premium on my time and charging for it accordingly have actually earned me more respect and credibility.

It goes back to the idea of teaching people how to treat you. If you let people walk all over you, they’ll quickly lose their faith in, and respect for, you. That’ll doom any business.

Instead, let people know you are happy to do X – and this is how much it’ll cost. DO NOT give anything away. Ever.

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What are some of the smartest things you’ve done as a small business owner?

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