When you're just starting your company, it's important to find a viable business model that makes money. Once you find a system that consistently brings in revenue for you, it makes sense to repeat it.
If you keep repeating the same activities, even when it is working, there is a ceiling on both what you're able to accomplish and earn. That is unless you work to scale your business. For some entrepreneurs, that means adding more resources such as people, ads, or servers to support growth.
But adding more resources often only leads to incremental growth, which can still limit your reach over the long-term.
To grow your business exponentially, take a step back to devise a different strategy to make a bigger impact more quickly.
A smart approach to do that, no matter the size of your business, is to embrace your role as a media company, by focusing on building your brand.
Why many entrepreneurs struggle to elevate their brands in a meaningful way
Being the brand that is seen as the go-to solution for the problem you solve for your customers is an ideal scenario for many businesses. But the process of using media as a means to become that recognized expert is one many entrepreneurs shy away from.
In her new book Entrepreneurial You, marketing consultant Dorie Clark explains why this happens:
The truth is, working to become a recognized expert and build a successful business takes time, and for a while, it is a zero-sum game. The time you invest in long-term growth is time taken away from short-term, revenue-generating activities.
Many business leaders are reluctant to trade this time. But focusing all your energy on meeting your financial goals today, comes at a cost. Here's what Dorie told me entrepreneurs are giving up by not playing the long game:
Some people are never able to break into the next level because they are not willing to give up the easy gratification of instant money. So if you stay in the mode of just doing sales forever,...you can never grow your business exponentially, because growing it exponentially requires scale.
And to achieve scale you're not gonna get it from asking someone for a referral to their colleague. You're going to get it because you start blogging, and lots of people read your blog, and then someone reads your blog and says 'this is great, you should come speak at this conference,' and then a thousand people hear you speak at that conference. That's how you get to scale.
Clark is speaking from experience on the need to make a decision about making this tradeoff. She noted that her income dipped by more than $120,000 for about a year while she focused on platform-building activities. Now she makes far more money than she did in the days before she started working to elevate her brand.
The delayed gratification worked for her. It worked for the dozens of business owners she profiled in her book. And it can work for you too. But only if you abandon the attitude Clark says many people take when it comes to managing their business:
Many people wouldn't be willing to trade the guaranteed short-term payday, even if they're stuck in an ultimately unfulfilling business model, for the possibility of long-term gain.
How to secure your business's future, while meeting the financial needs of today
It doesn't have to be one or the other. You can meet your short-term goals without mortgaging away your future. It all comes down to planning your time.
In the early days as you're working to get your business off the ground and profitable, it makes total sense to focus all your efforts on sales activities that bring money in the door. But as you start to get more revenue, start shifting your focus to the marketing activities that build your brand for the long-term.
Clark recommends building your brand through media, such as publishing your ideas on a blog, podcast, or even video series. Whatever medium you choose, the consistency of sharing your knowledge is what will enable you to build a large enough audience that is eager to hear from you, buy your products and services.
Block your calendar to ensure you carve out the time needed to create content. When you're just starting out, commit to giving yourself at least two hours a week to this activity. Steadily increase it over time as you start to gain traction with your efforts.
You can build a business that grows exponentially. But you've got to be willing to delay gratification for a little while to do it. You can do it in a way that is sustainable for you and your business.