Last Saturday, as the girls and I began our day of insane shopping, Eliana noticed a sign inside the mall corridor that said: Grow Your Business With Us. She turned to me and said, “Mommy, isn’t that what YOU do?”
The notice was an ad to encourage leasing mall space, so I explained to her the difference between their kind of growing business and mine. It’s a hard thing for a kid to understand. She nodded absently and pointed to a store. “Ooohh! Let’s go there.”
I’ve thought about it since then because this is the quintessential question anyone in any business, for-profit or nonprofit, asks, almost on a daily basis. How do I grow my business?
Surely, leasing mall space isn’t the answer for everyone and in fact, not for most. So how do yo do it?
I am in the business of public relations and communications. I help people tell their stories in the right way, articulate their mission clearly and focused, and build the relationships that will build their business – with customers, with referral partners, with colleagues, with staff.
What I do doesn’t translate to a direct dollar-for-dollar result. Sorry. It’s deeper than that.
The other day a friend asked me if I might help her promote her book. I asked her if her goal was to sell more books; thankfully, she replied no, her goal is to get a publisher for her second book.
Ok, I can work with that. She’ll sell more books, yes, but not enough to pay for the PR. What the PR will do for her is build her persona, her brand, her audience, so that she is a coveted and respected author that people clamor after.
There’s a great deal of nuance when it comes to building business, and there is no easy way to get from here to there. Ultimately, it comes down to doing the work right in front of us so that more work will come; the proof is in the pudding, to be cliche.
Next week, I am moderating a panel at Entrepreneur-YOU, a day-long conference for women entrepreneurs at Walsh College. My panel is about professional services – how to find those that will help you, how to work with people like me, how to know what you need and when.
The thing is, when you’re working in your business, you really can’t focus on working ON your business. And if you’re busy in the business, it’s probably not smart to take on your own marketing, or public relations, or legal work. You get the picture.
There is a supreme strength in hiring out those tasks that you don’t have the expertise to do yourself. People are signing up for my 21 Day Blogging Challenge because they know they need the support and guidance to start a blogging habit, and write regularly, in a focused manner, articulating their vision, mission, goals.
Same goes with my 2015 Summer Writing Retreat on Mackinac Island. You have to get away from the office to gain clarity on where you want to go, what you want to achieve.
When I was freelance, I gave myself the gift of a conference, retreat, seminar or trip every year (at least one!) where I could gain some perspective, build relationships, gain mentors and ultimately grow my business. It was the best investment I’ve ever made.
I still do it – but year to year, what I need changes. Perhaps it’s a yoga retreat, to recharge and energize. Maybe it’s a trip by myself to gain that space and quiet to be clear and focused. Sometimes, I just need a half-day seminar or a quick morning talk by a seasoned professional to take me out of my blinders-on mindset to know what my business needs.
We all need to grow our businesses in innovative and clever ways. And we need to be smart enough to realize we can’t do it all ourselves.