TL: DR: It’s ok to run a small business, with just you working “in” it or “on” it, whatever you please. You don’t have to scale your business up. You don’t have to grow “big”. There’s no need to stress yourself more than you need to.
When I was young, I’d think of a “company or a business” as an entity that produces products or services with a full crew of members working to make it all happen.
That’s how I was raised to think businesses would be. I also learnt that it’s only when you hire people and grow in size that you’d call yourself a business. Otherwise, you’d only call yourself self-employed.
I am usually not the types who likes to “scale” and “grow big”.
I like “small”. I love to just depend on myself to make things happen. I have trust issues. Plus, even when I genuinely tried, I found it extremely hard to find the right people to create a team.
All this, I was also bootstrapping my agency leaving me no breathing room with respect to cash flow although we bill every month and the agency is profitable.
So, I just let it be and I work all by myself, seeking out help from experienced freelancers only when I need to.
But then, not everyone is like me and there are many entrepreneurs who’d like to scale up and grow. They’d like to run a business with a great team, and aim for something bigger.
Maybe you are like that. Perhaps you dreamt about it and chances are that you might be doing your best too.
If you run a type of service business that depends on “you”, chances are that you’ll find it incredibly hard to scale your business.
It’s no wonder that Venture Capitalists normally don’t invest in service-based businesses or small businesses that completely depend on a single individual.
But there are options, and which path you’ll go depends on “you”. Let’s see how to scale up your services business (or find alternatives):
Don’t Bother Scaling Up
Yes, there are legitimate ways that you can drop your service business model and turn to informational products like launching an online course, creating a productized service, or something else altogether.
Do it if you want to. That’s ok.
The trouble with a lot of people out there in the world is that they all think that everyone else is like them too. You’ll often read about “The Need to Grow and Scale Up your Business” or “The Blueprint to scale up your business” and God only knows what else.
Maybe you won’t enjoy having to hire, train, and manage employees (Is working with a remote team a better alternative?)
It takes time, effort, and limitless energy to make it all work — teams, processes, systems, and customers. Maybe running all this by yourself isn’t such a bad thing after all?
You don’t have to listen to anyone. You can do what you like.
Business Isn’t About Big Mouths, Big Numbers, and Big Ass Attitudes
Business Profits = Revenue – Expenses.
I don’t care how you made your logo or how much you spent on it. I don’t care what website platform your website runs on. I care less about your seed funding ambitions.
All that I see (and really anyone sees, and you should too) is the cash flow. Then, aim for sustainable profitability.
In all my years of working for myself, I’ve seen my share of entrepreneurs who love to talk big. They drop big names, and even bigger numbers. They’ll tell you about their trillion-dollar ideas and they matching plans to achieve just that.
The reality, however, at least among the idiot wantrepreneurs I’ve had the pleasure of meeting not one of those big mouths ever made it to a single $ in revenue. Not even a single dollar.
Meanwhile, I’ve come to admire all those self-employed professionals, one-person business owners, and other humbler businesses that actually make money every single month.
One person. A Single Resource. Making money all the time. Every single hour of the day.
You tell me: Who is better? The big mouthed wantrepreneur who talks but doesn’t make money or the humble one-person business that actually makes money?
Running a boring, One-person business Is Fine
I don’t know what this madness is about “innovating”, “company culture”, and “growth” but it’s perfectly alright to run an out-and-out boring company with nothing much to show for it except yourself running and managing your own business.
I run a terribly boring business, trust me on that.
Paul Jarvis does very well for himself, and he writes:
“I like having a boring business. There’s nowhere set in stone that business has to be frantic, fast-paced, and stressful all the time. Give me boring forever and I’ll be happy.”
I know countless business that started with fancy offices, huge teams, endless capital backup, relentless infusion of cash. Most of them failed. Those that exist are currently bleeding to death.
Don’t go by this startup cult of wanting to scale up, grow, and grow some more. It’s bulllshit.
The point is this: Do what best fits your personality. Reduce stress levels. Have fun while you run your business.
What do you say?