Do you have a business that is a bit too large? How is that possible? Well, is there … flab attached to your business?
You know your business – your baby – needs to lose a bit of excess to be more healthy, but fear the effects of shedding that extra padding? Growth is best, right?
I love my successful business, but at times it had become overly complicated and time-consuming. Trying to manage the needs of so many other people and brands as a businesswoman, in addition to my own needs and those of my family, was an increasingly difficult task. Especially when I’m also a full-time carer to my special needs daughter, whose health is not improving. Something had to give. I had done as much as I could by employing time management strategies, new online project management tools and even scheduling more sleep to improve my productivity when awake. Nothing was working to provide that desperately-needed relief.
After 18 months of procrastination, worry and generally being s**t scared to make the change, I downsized my business. I reduced the size of my business in several ways:
- From 120 to currently 40 brands.
- Decreasing the square meterage of the business footprint.
- From 40 stress filled hours a week to more 25 focussed and productive hours.
If you have reached a similar place in your business journey, then making the decision to downsize can be scary. Especially if you have the staff to support and you are stuck in the rut of just reacting to every crisis, instead of guiding the business future. That’s where I was – reacting to the needs of other business owners, instead of building my own empire. It lost its fun and I had lost my passion. And we know that is unhelpful for any female business owner. We need the passion, the excitement, and the achievement.
These 3 strategies helped me make the decision to downsize.
Strategy 1: Run your numbers. How much does each product or service add to your bottom line? Those with the least, consider removing. You’ll be surprised at how many there may be. Take a moment to assess the opportunities that may open up if you aren’t for example, spending your capital on underperforming investments.
Strategy 2: Identify those brands, jobs or clients who take up most of your time, and not for the better. Do you need them? Do they cause you more grief & stress, and take more of your time away from those who really support your endeavours? They may be some of your biggest income earners, true, and this is perhaps a reason for the hesitation in downsizing. However, what value is in your own time and wellbeing to your business?
Consider gradually saying goodbye. There were some brands I had stocked for years and I had become well acquainted with their owners, seeing their own business grow beside my own. It was a hard decision, but I phased out many products, concentrating on the high selling items. This allowed me to see how it would be to not stock them and concentrate on those brands I did want to promote. Sure, I said goodbye to some popular brands, in a move that left many wondering about my sanity. However, I learnt what I could achieve gradually, and even saw one business fight harder to keep in our store, so that now we have a stronger relationship and partnership than before.
Strategy 3: Let your mind dream about where to next. Can you build the brands, services or clients who bring you the most joy and/or income? I started to sell more of the brands I loved and kept as they were not overshadowed by the other brands I had been stocking but discounting heavily in reaction to competitors. The reduction in ‘clutter’ let my customers know what I wanted them to see.
This last tip is what moved me through the scared s**tless phase. I’m concentrating on building those brands that love what I do; that have a vested interest in seeing my business grow, so that their business grows. Those who work with me to not increase my stress, but maximise my effectiveness.
What is the result?
It’s been 12 months since I started this process in full force and the business is still sustainable. We continue to employ 3 mothers and support our community. For me, I’m able to clearly think about where I want the business to go and to build the relationship with my current brand owners that is of mutual benefit to both businesses. It’s also meant more time free to care for my daughter and be mum to her and my 3 boys.
Making any dramatic change in a small business is scary and risky. If you are finding you have lost your excitement about your business, then maybe its time to downsize to find yourself and your passion again?
Bio: Tennille is the Cloth Nappy Doctor which encompasses blogging, product development, retail and the distribution of Bummis, Breastvest and Funky Fluff in Australia. A tenacious mum to 3 boys and a beautiful daughter who has severe disabilities. She is always looking for the next adventure.