Hey, look what we did

Note: If you normally stop by here looking for posts on ministry, don’t ignore this one just because it’s about business. Just replace the word business with ministry every time you see it. I think it will work well for you. 

As I posted about a few entries ago, The Business Journal is back on. That whole situation has caused me to take a look at the business and decide where I want to be a year from now. I hope to be looking back at this post, saying “Hey, look what we did.” So what’s the plan to get there?

It’s time to make some big decisions.
What do I want this business to be? So far it has provided a nice living for my family and allowed me to work on some interesting projects while “being my own boss.” Am I content with that or do I desire to take it to the next level and create a thriving and growing company? I think I do. Believe it or not, those are two entirely different things. The business that just has to provide for us only requires hard work. I’ve got some great clients. If I get up and work hard for them, we will make some money. However, growing a company into something that can do more than just provide for us requires much more. It requires setting aside time to work on the future. Time to plan and dream and work on things that will bring in new business tomorrow. That mindset is just as focused on what is going to happen a month from now as it is on the deadlines it has to face today.

Become even more goal oriented
For too long, my goals have been surviving the looming deadlines that are always nipping at my heels. That needs to change completely. Meeting deadlines is just a part of a much larger goal of providing phenomenal customer service. If my goal is to increase our photography work, I need to set goals to get us there and monitor those goals. If I want to make x number of dollars on design work, I need to lay out my goals to reach that point. I also need to be willing to adjust those goals on the fly.

Marketing, marketing, marketing 
Deep down in my heart, I’m a marketer. Every segment of my business is really about marketing. Ironically enough, I don’t do any traditional advertising. My website, and this blog are as close as I get to advertising. That may need to change. Word of mouth if great for making a living. However, successful companies advertise. I consult with companies every day and tell them the need for advertising. Maybe I’ll have to start listening to myself.

Re-evaluate all clients
I think people from the old-school of business find this concept a little odd, but sometimes you have to fire clients. I can look back at every client I’ve ever had and tell you if they were healthy or unhealthy for my business. There are clients that you do great work for and are paid accordingly. These are healthy clients. Then there are clients that you can kill yourself for and still don’t get paid what the work is worth. These are unhealthy clients. Unhealthy clients can even pay a lot of money. However, you also have to evaluate it versus the time you are putting into it. Could you spend that time on different clients and make more? It’s never easy to fire clients, even unhealthy ones, but it is almost always better for the health of the business long-term.

This business needs less of me
I’m not sure if that’s the best way to put it, but everything in our business revolves around me. That has to change too. There are only so many hours in the day and if I spend every hour the way I am now, we’ll never grow much more. I need to intentionally look for ways to disentangle myself from some of the day-to-day stuff I take care of that just doesn’t require me. If I could be creative for eight hours a day, we’d probably make a lot more money than if I spend half the day being creative and half the day doing administration stuff. To help with this Becca and I are talking about her handling more of the business side so I can focus on growing it. If I never had to send out another invoice myself, I’d be the happiest person around. Organizations can only grow so large when they are centered on one person. I’m going to nip that in the bud right now.

A shinier car
So why do all this? To make more money so I can afford a nicer car? No. If I wanted that all I’d have to do is continue running a business that was focused on providing us with a living. I believe I could do that for many, many years to come and make a very nice living. However, I increasingly feel like God is calling me to something bigger. Providing us a nice living is a great goal, but it only helps us. I blame my parents for this, but I want to help others as much as possible. A healthy company that looks beyond our life will be able to eventually employ others and help others. I want to provide something for my children if they want to take up the reigns. I want to provide for them an example of helping others like my parents have done (and continue to do) for me. It was God’s will that I start this business and I don’t think it was just to provide for us.

I know it’s a long post, but I want to end it with a quick thank you to those around me. You’ve always been there with advice, prayers and encouragement. As we enter what I believe to be a new phase for the business I’m sure I’ll be calling for more advice.

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