Growing Painlessly

A long time ago you decided to follow your heart and add writing as a part of your business. Remember how carefully you thought out the whole thing? Just the right name, the neat logo, the eye-catching, traffic-driving website?


Well as your business grows you need to take the same loving care to make sure it grows manageably. Death by success has happened to a lot of companies that turned out to be unprepared for the amount of business they suddenly were called upon to do.


It sounds like an enviable problem, but don’t let yourself think like that. Any problem that will kill your business is a problem you need to take seriously.


The warning signs. The first sign of a problem is not knowing you have one, despite how tough things have gotten. For instance – are you working day and night? If you are, rethink the two main culprits – time management and rates. If you can’t manage your time and/or set high enough rates, that candle you’re burning at both ends will soon burn you out.


What about your office supplies? If you keep running out, you’re not factoring your budget correctly. This is one of the most overlooked problems out there. You never think about how many pens or packs of printer paper you have until you need some and can’t find any. And the inability to budget for office supplies is a symptom of poor money management, which could fester into other areas of your business – like your rates…


Confused? Writers are solitary types, prone to ego issues that keep them from asking questions. Sure, you know enough to follow up when you’re interviewing someone who blurts out that they one fled Paraguay when an election went sour, but you never think to ask for help. Here’s an easy way around that – ask! Don’t let your desire to seem right all the time in the eyes of a client stop you from asking him or her to clear up something for you, to spell out some guidelines, or explain what he meant by all those technical terms you pretended to be an expert about. People can forgive a question. They’re less forgiving of botched jobs.


Spending sprees are SO 1985. A big mistake small businesses of all kinds make is thinking that a fancy new office or a dazzling new website (or other shiny bauble) will somehow make them look more professional. Clients catch onto flash without substance quickly, though. Really think through why you want to expand – do you need to hire people to help you? That’s a good reason. Are you out of filing cabinet space, or no longer willing to bring clients to your basement office where the dog is sleeping? These are good too. But expanding because you’re doing OK is not enough. Really think about where your money will go before you spend it.


Last but not least. Guard your reputation with everything you’ve got. If you take on more than you can handle it will start detracting from your work. If your work starts to suffer, your reputation will follow. You never want to be the writer who used to be good. Always evaluate quality with quantity – it will always be your name on (or missing from) the byline.

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