Why My 6th Year of Business Will Be the Hardest Yet
Posted on January 8, 2015
I’ve been the CEO of Intern Queen Inc. for over five years – I can’t believe it. For five years, I’ve been building, scheming, planning, and creating. In the five years that I’ve run this company – planning for the New Year has never been as tough as it was this year. Maybe it’s because we are playing with larger amounts of money than in years past. Perhaps it’s because it’s no longer just me, it’s a staff of three full-time employees plus several freelancers. Whatever the reason – going into year six of business is hard, overwhelming, and has really put my brain and body to the ultimate test. In fact, I’m normally a night owl but I’ve fallen asleep just after 7PM the past few nights because I’m just mentally exhausted from the conversations, numbers, and planning. Never-the-less, these aren’t BAD problems – they are actually GOOD problems to have – but difficult to solve. I’ll share….
When you first start a business the goal is simple – to make money so you can keep the lights on. If you are like me and have no outside investors – you have to keep your eye on the ball – and the ball is THE MONEY. If you don’t make money, you go out of business or have to go get a part-time job at Starbucks or as an Uber driver. It doesn’t matter where the money comes from – it just needs to come in.
Once the money starts to come in at a steady rate, you decide that you need someone else to help you. You don’t have super specific job responsibilities for them – you just know that you need help and you can’t do it all – so you hire one additional person – a huge accomplishment.
Well, now I’m going into my sixth year of business and it’s a little bit more complicated. I’m not as concerned as I once was about “keeping the lights on” as we’ve accomplished that (claps) but we are concerned with where the money is coming from. We are constantly evaluating the different streams of revenue for the business and watching what amount of money is coming from which place. We’re also trying to push for the revenue to come from the places that provide the highest profit margins. When we plan for 2015, we’re not just looking at the highest dollar amount but we’re looking at the highest profit amount and then building our goals for the New Year around the revenue streams that generate the highest profit margin – ahhh! It’s a tongue twister just to type out! We’re also looking at our team and how we’d like to shift their responsibilities around to cater to the highest profit portions of the business. We’re also looking at the profit we have left over from 2014 and thinking, who can we hire? What is the best way to invest this money back into the business? We also have to make sure that every employee is happy, incentivized, and understands who their roles can increase or decrease our bottom line. I promise, I won’t add in another “we also….” but you get the idea. Lots of questions. And I have to come up with the answers.
Year six is exciting but it’s tough. I know I’m heading into the biggest business year of my life. Here are the biggest challenges I face going into 2015:
- Working With Big Numbers. When you are dealing with small numbers ($75, $100) you don’t have much to lose. Once you start adding zeros to the end of those numbers things become a bit more overwhelming. Sometimes it’s nearly impossible to imagine….
- Watching The Numbers – Constantly. I need to watch the business numbers like a hawk. Over the past two years, I’ve been pretty good at analyzing the business numbers at the end of each month and monitoring which parts of the business are booming and which need help. In 2015, I need to do this more than ever before. I need to make sure myself and my staff are really aware of what we are bringing in and how those numbers line up with our goals.
- Keeping the Energy Up. I need to make sure my team constantly feels motivated and enthused to come to work. I need to constantly energize them – even when it’s the middle of a stressful week. How am I going to do that? I’ll write some thoughts out in a separate post.
- Spending My Time Appropriately. I need to watch how I spend my time. As the CEO of the company it’s always a bit tricky determining the best ways to spend your time. For me, it’s making sure my team is on-track and has the support they need. It’s making sure our client’s requests are handled. And this year – it needs to be making sure I have enough time to continue to add value and expertise to the platform and both the InternQueen.com and LaurenBergerInc.com brands.
- Hiring and Providing Support. We are bringing on at least two new team members this year. It’s going to be crucial for me to make sure that our entire ship is running smoothly at all times and to make sure my team feels supported properly at all times.
What obstacles does your business face in 2015? Please do share!