Create a sustainable business from day one

When you’re starting out as a small-business owner, gaining or losing even one client can mean big changes for you. However, as you grow losing a client shouldn’t put you in dire straits. In fact, our rule here at ActionCOACH is to not let more than 15% of our income be dependent on one client. Following this rule keeps our business sustainable by managing our overhead and increasing our marketing efforts as needed.

Here’s how to set up your sustainable business from day one:

1. Let your overhead grow on pace with your income.

Don’t spend money that you don’t have — if you don’t need to.

On the other hand, if your business requires a high overhead to get started, consider applying for a grant, a business loan, or acquiring one to three investors. Trying to create sustainability without making necessary upfront investments is a recipe for disaster. Success can take time to build, and it will build even slower if you put a stranglehold on your overhead.

Make sure you have the funds to buy what your business needs. As your income increases, you can pay off your creditors or investors and deliberately increase your overhead.

2. Automate as many tasks as you can.

From running ads to running financial reports, take advantage of the built-in automations that many programs have. For example, QuickBooks Online features a recurring invoice tool. If you can, use it.

Bonus: Accepting credit card payments and wire transfers will help you get paid faster. It’s also an easier paying experience for your customers.

3. Outsource as much as possible.

If someone else can do the work, you shouldn’t be doing it. While you might seem busy and productive, you’re likely still wasting time doing what someone else could do just as well, if not better.

A few tasks you may want to outsource include employee management, payroll, human resources, marketing, accounting, design, and customer service.

Susan Thomson is a partner and licensed business and executive coach for ActionCOACH of Madison.

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