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How Big Does My Garden Grow?

November 25, 2012

originally published in

How Big Does My Garden Grow

Last week I read an interesting statistic about small businesses.  According to The Week’s November 23, 2012 issue, ‘Less than a quarter of America’s 27 million small businesses have employees.’  Of that figure, I’d guess that 75% of Wool2Dye4’s customers have no employees.  This is hard to estimate, of course, and I have formed this opinion through eMail correspondence over the past 8 years.Many of our customers are work-at-home small business owners.  Many have left a salaried job to work at home, and for many different reasons.  Pregnancy and child care seem to be the most popular reason, then caring for an ill family member.  These customers want to add to the family financial picture, and have chosen to use their artistic talent to create their handdye business.  That’s where we come into the picture, as their supplier of raw materials, the yarns in different blends and presentations, enough for choice, enough to specialize, enough from which to pick and choose which fibers in which blends, twists, plies will become the palette for their handdye art.

We also have customers who want to be their own boss, including retirees who want to create a viable business.  We find that these customers talk about planning and forecasting consistently.  They study their potential market in depth and then choose which yarns will fit their market, rather than which yarns they want to dye.  These are the customers who understand pricing, profit, placement.

This same article cited research from the University of Chicago that 75% of small busienss owners are not aiming for growth at all.  They are looking for a steady job as their own boss.

When I read that, something joggled in the logical side of my brain, something about the word ‘growth.’  Growth is not measured only in the number of employees one has, but by the bottom line.  Profit is the best measurement of growth.

Entrepreneurship is about understanding every single aspect of one’s business, including where you want it to go.  Just working madly, trying to make a profit, hitting a trend here and there — this approach is not the path to a growing bottom line.  Planning is the best way to improve profit, and that includes understanding where we want our businesses to grow, and one aspect of this understanding is how many employees our business would have at optimal performance level.

Imagine the day when your business is profitable, it has improved the quality of your life in every aspect.  How many employees do you see by your side?  This is important to understand because it tells you something about how you like to work, how you get distracted, what distracts you, what effects the efficiency of the workflow in your business, what keeps you close to the goals.

Part of growth is having goals.  Sure, they change as circumstances change, and are a moving target, but the keyword here is ‘target.’  Our picture of what our business is capable of achieving is the entrepreneur’s fuel.  Understand every aspect of your business, and your business will improve, your attitude will be strong, your business will improve the quality of your life.

This is that time of year when we head towards the closing of financial reports, the reckoning of profit and margin, and a good time to look at the life of our business and assess it’s health, it’s value, it’s progress.

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