If you’re like pretty much every founder, your business is your baby. But what kind of parent are you? Are you the kind that sets your child up for success in every way possible so you can eventually step back and watch them thrive, even when you’re not present at all times? Or are you the helicopter type, insistent on controlling every detail to the point that you impede ideas and growth beyond yourself?
If it’s the latter, it’s time to trade the helicopter blades for a business model that will create more freedom and save you from an inevitable crash and burnout.
Here’s what you need to know to build a business model that makes bank.
YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL—FOREVER
There, I said it. It’s an undeniable truth that many female founders struggle to accept. Have you ever met someone who’s got the strategic vision of a CEO, the logistical mindset of a COO, the financial acumen of a CFO, the legal savvy of a CLO, the marketing prowess of a CMO, AND the technical expertise of a CIO or CTO? No, you haven’t, because that person doesn’t exist.
Sure, many of us wear multiple hats at some point. And maybe we do an okay job at juggling everything—for a while. But hear this: taking on everything is not only unsustainable for you, it’s also detrimental to your business.
The marker of a truly successful business is the ability to step back from it without it collapsing. That reality may seem counterintuitive at first. But it’s about creating stability and scalability. To do that, you need to build a business model that supports your exit plan. And every decision you make now should support your plan to step back from your role or the company at some point (and still make money), whether that be five, ten, or twenty years from now.
BUILD A YES-YES-YES BUSINESS MODEL
You’ll know that you’ve developed a solid business model when you can answer yes to all three of these interconnected questions:
- Is it manageable? If your model hinges on you being the one person who does everything or even the only person who knows certain critical things, it’s not manageable for the long term. You’ll burn out and spend less time working with clients—and bring in less revenue because you’re not spending your time where it’s most valuable.
- Is it scalable? Getting from surviving to thriving directly correlates to your ability to scale up your business, which (again) requires you to become replaceable. For example, you could move from a model where only you work 1:1 with clients, to one where you—and those you train and trust—deliver programmed content to groups of clients. The point is that there are only so many hours in a day, so to scale requires finding ways to distribute the workload and leverage your time.
- Is it bankable? Strong business growth is largely powered by access to working capital from loans, crowds, angels, or VCs. To appeal to outside investment, your business model must be manageable and scalable. (Seeing a recurring theme?)
Girl, Look at These Figures: Trends That Shout ‘Your Time is Now!’
High Success Rate
Women-owned businesses survive for five years or more compared to the national average of about 50% of all businesses.
Growth in WoBs
According to data from Guidant Financial, women-owned businesses grew 94% from 2019-2023. That’s right; through a pandemic!
NEXT STEPS (IF YOU HAVEN’T TAKEN THEM ALREADY)
Here are some steps you should take immediately to start putting your business on track to succeed—with and without you.
- Delegate, don’t abdicate. Fill critical roles with and/or assign responsibilities to people who compliment your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses. Your weaknesses will be more prevalent when that balance is absent, and that can put your business at risk. On the flipside, your strengths will be amplified when you surround yourself with experts in their areas.
- Stop working to do things that others consider play. Why spend your time doing something you dread (and maybe aren’t so good at) when you can delegate it to someone who’s good at it—and actually loves doing it? This is especially true if it’s something that’s keeping you from spending time on revenue-generating activities.
- Outsource your books. You need someone who can give you a reality check when you’re considering expanding. An expert can tell you if the juice is worth the squeeze, given your current financial status. Meet with your finance person once a month or at least once a quarter. If you can’t hire someone full-time yet, bring them on as a fractional consultant.
- Look for ways to simplify and streamline. Hire a virtual assistant, automate processes, templatize what you can. You’ll be surprised by how many little things end up consuming your day and by what a relief it is to drop them from your list of to-dos.
Here’s the bottom line about your bottom line: business models become more profitable as they shift from being driven by specific people or one person to being driven by replicable systems that can be executed by anyone with the appropriate skill set and a document of procedures.
Unsure of how to take your specific business and make it manageable, scalable, and bankable?