Mike Callahan, the owner of Callahan's Lawn Care (one of the biggest lawn care companies in NY-state), produced an awesome video explaining the 5 stages your business will grow through and the hurdles of each stage.
These stages aren't unique to lawn care or cleaning, they're the stages every small business works through.
Stage #1: Part-Time or Self-Employed
Mike splits this stage into 2 parts:
These are the side-hustlers. People working a full or part-time job outside of their business. They work for and on their business during their off-hours. They feel the strain of working 100+ hours per week.
At some point, they have to make the leap from the security of outside work to recognizing that it hinders their future growth.
The Hurdle for Part-Timers: Make the Time
There are a lot of demands on your time as a part-time business owner. If you want to grow beyond 100+ hour weeks, you have to trust yourself and your business to keep you afloat.
You will have to take a risk to make this happen.
... the only way your business can jump this hurdle is if you're willing to make the time by dropping other responsibilities.
You've taken the plunge. You quit your job for "the man" and you're flying solo. Instead of 100+ hour work-week, you're pulling 80 hours and it feels like a vacation.
Here's the thing: you're now so busy with the initial growth of your business that you're going to hit a new plateau.
The Hurdle for the Self-Employed: Create Leads
You perform every job, make every sale, fight to stay afloat at every turn. Eventually, this means you won't actually have time to create leads. You rely on Facebook advertising and send out EDDM (every door, direct mail).
You need to know who your ideal client is. You can accomplish this with a "Client Persona."
You need to start requesting referrals from your existing clients.
Ultimately, you have to put up guard rails (business processes) that keep potential clients from falling through the cracks.
Stage #2: New Employer (Team of 2-3)
Alright, you're no longer a solopreneur. You have a team now. Hopefully, it's a field assistant and an office manager.
The Hurdle: Full-Time Sales Position
You don't have the kind of time you need to dedicate here. Selling is a full-time position.
You have 2 options:
- Hire a full-time sales rep
- Reduce the position through Automation and processes
Stage #3: Steady Operation
You've got a few teams in the field and you're not on one of them. You're trying to focus on building your business. But if you're not in the field, how do you make sure teams hold themselves to your standards?
You're also managing higher-level marketing campaigns now. How do manage follow-up and follow-through as campaigns go from 100s of potential clients to 1000s?
The Hurdle: Marketing Systems and Quality Control at Scale
You have to institute processes in your business around marketing and quality control. Mike elaborates on this in the video.
Business processes are guard rails that keep you from losing control of your business as things move more quickly. When small mistakes costs $5000 instead of $100 you want to put firmer barriers in place.
Stage #4: The 7-Figure Business
You made it to the Million Dollar Threshold. What's next?
Your biggest problem at this stage is not competency or systems. You've got both of those in place. It's trusting those systems.
The Hurdle: Let Go of Control
You can't control every aspect of your business. You have to trust the people you've hired and the systems you've built to grow your business.
Stage #5: The Truly Large Business
You've let go and let your team do their jobs. Everyone still reports to you though. With 3-4 divisions inside your company plus sales and marketing teams, it's becoming an endless blur of meetings and to-do's. You're running into the next hurdle:
The Hurdle: True Leadership and Culture Maintenance
Leaders need time to lead. You can't spend your whole day in meetings. You need to empower your team to make their own decisions. Every decision can't pass through your desk. You simply don't have time.
This is the point where the culture you've developed strongly impacts future performance. Your team knows you and the business you've built. They've bought in. Trust them to build in your image, even when you're not directly involved.