I was so excited I already imagined spending money on necessary company assets to further grow the business. I got really excited at the opportunity to employ people, already had great people in mind, their packages and even imagined how they would love me for being the most amazing boss in the world.
Figured I would have a nice office with a picture of my beautiful wife on the desk. Yup, this is what happens in the first year of a new business. I really thought this is what my first year would be like and it sure sucks to be wrong.
I started the business knowing I would do things differently compared to my unknown competitors within my industry. I knew I had what it takes to make my company a success. What I did not know was that growth takes time, no matter who you are or what your idea or business is.
Unless you are a 17-year-old kid who developed some kind of an application that help toddlers tie their shoe-laces to prevent them from falling, and moms are like – jumping over joy at this app then you instantly need huge offices with developers, designers and an expensive coffee machine.
Growth takes time. With anything in life. Growth takes time! I most certainly never thought that I would lose three clients within my first year of operating. Three clients! That is like losing a million rand if you are a small business owner.
Let me just explain that me losing those clients was purely because my clients had no budget left to continue with my services. I did not anticipate this too. So yes, after just one year of being in business I not only believed I did not grow but that I shrunk too. I own a digital marketing agency and we assist startups and small business owners with digital marketing strategies, helping accelerate their growth. This allows the business owner to focus on sales and operations, basically everything else while we focus on their marketing.
My job is to help small businesses increase their brand visibility and help the company attract more customers via communication platforms that promote this. Many small business owners in South Africa, not all, have amazing businesses but lack the help and time it takes to grow the business, and marketing is definitely one of the cornerstones to any business. It helps keep the roof up if done right, heck, if done at all.
This is amazing, right? That is what I thought! I still think this. I love my business. It is a passion! I am good at it! The thing is, I am not the only person or company doing it. So, does this mean I should let go of this passion? Does it mean I can no longer continue with my business because there are many other key players I must contend with? Does it mean, I now have to pursue another venture or seek employment again? Absolutely not! I have invested 378 days of my life to my business and most of those days to our clients.
I have made sacrifices, mistakes that I care not to ever remember again nor to let you know about in this article either due to its embarrassing nature. I have learnt what to do and what not to do in my business and industry and this is not taught at a tertiary level. This is practical learning, ‘On the job learning’ as it is better known. I have held my breath in anticipation of a phone call from a potential client.
I have sent thousands of emails and made hundreds of phone calls to secure client meetings and new business deals. I have raised my standards of what I will accept in my business and what will not accept. I have turned potential clients down, not due to arrogance but in an attempt to not do business with other businesses that aren’t in line with what we do or offer and to protect my name and that of my business.
I have decided that my business will deal ethically always, no matter the cost! I have made difficult decisions for the sake of my brand’s reputation and personal sanity. I have celebrated signing new clients and have triumphed over losing clients as I previously alluded to in this article.
After having invested just one year of my life, which I am sure you can agree with me that this is a long time to do all that is necessary and learn all that I have learnt, for me to just turn my back on it, growth or no visible growth!
You see, growth in a business does not always mean that your turnover and profits will be in a positive and that this is the only way to measure the growth in a company. This is obviously a sure sign of growth but to a small business owner who still has to realise this, it is not and can’t be the only measurement for growth.
Being successful in all your daily activities, all your set weekly and monthly goals leading up to your first year in business is a sure sign that your business is growing. Deciding to plant a seed in the ground comes with the expectation of growth. One plants a seed in fertile soil, having already made sure that the soil is good for planting. You are sure of the fact that this seed will get enough water and sunlight throughout its lifespan and that it will grow to be tall and strong.
It was not planted as a fully-grown tree, it grew to become a fully-grown tree and the same is true with your business. You as a small business owner can’t see the end from the beginning and with the right amount of perseverance, determination, courage and most of all FAITH, your business will grow. It might not seem like it, the same way the seed in the ground does not seem to be growing after having planted it, but time and patience will reveal the truth. That after having done all things necessary to make sure that the plant survives; keeping your business doors open and in operation, you realise that growth was subtly taking place. That in fact it was inevitable, your business was or is growing without you even knowing it. Ruben Chavez said it so “Remember, growth is a process. You may not be exactly where you want to be but you’re closer than you were yesterday and that’s what counts”
Article by Shannon Rosenberg, director and owner of Eighty6 Marketing (Pty) Ltd