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Growing pains: pivots, people, and P&Ls

Establishing a small business takes good ideas and hard work, but once you’ve successfully launched, you get a new set of challenges: how do you scale?

When you’re scaling your business, there are many factors to consider: where are you getting the capital? How quickly do you want to grow? Do you have the right employees and partners in place? Each business’s journey is unique. Scaling can be like gardening: You can decide to grow just a couple of tomato plants or a whole farm.

Em um webinar recente patrocinado por Inc., Empresa Rápida, e a Dell Women’s Entrepreneurs Network (DWEN), moderador Melinda Emerson, the “Small Biz Lady” and author of Fix Your Business, falei com Ellen Bennett, Latinx founder and CEO of apron and kitchen gear brand Hedley & Bennett e autor de Sonhe primeiro, detalhes depois; and Nicole Cardoza, award-winning serial entrepreneur, public speaker, investor, and founder and CEO of Reclamation Ventures, a venture studio for health and racial equity.

Aqui estão as principais conclusões dessa conversa:

1. You can grow at your own pace

“I started with $300 out of my house, and my first order funded my business,” Bennett says. Her first customer ordered 40 aprons, and she used the deposit money to pay for the raw materials and staff. Her goal was to never spend more than she made and reinvest every penny back into the business.

“It helped maintain a pace that I could sustain and grow profitably,” she says. She acknowledges that some businesses grow faster, but she set the pace that was right for her as a young, 24-year-old entrepreneur. “I think everyone who is on their journey just has to remember to do what is right for them,” she adds.

2. Get creative with funding. 

Both Bennett and Cardoza have primarily been bootstrappers. Bennett used her personal credit to get started, leaning on credit cards with cash back to get money to reinvest. She would “max out a credit card and then pay it off, sometimes several times within a month. 

3. Listen to your customers. 

Cardoza started the Anti-Racism Daily newsletter without expecting it to be a sustainable business; she just thought it was a good way to mobilize people for a few months. But as she realized it was catching fire, she hit an inflection point and decided to hire a staff and invest in marketing and branding. 

“I think what’s important is to listen to your gut,” she says, “I do a lot of listening with my customers during that [inflection] time, too, really asking them actively through surveys, ‘What are you looking for?’ and getting on the phone with people, doing discovery to really determine that right next step—and then holding that little space for luck and joy and possibility, too.”

4. Act like a big business. 

One of the worst things a small business can do is to act like a small business, Bennett says—meaning missing deadlines or not coming through entirely professionally and expecting people to understand.

“Act like a professional business and you will become one. From day one I took the responsibility of a business the size of Dell. I was like, ‘I might be a one-man band, but I’m going to make sure that those aprons get delivered with the same professionalism as any other large company.”

5. Grow at the speed of trust. 

Trust is the most important thing to build with your customers, Cardoza says, but it also extends to yourself: Do you trust that you have the capacity to grow or take on added investments? 

“. . . then [grow] your team at the speed of trust, finding people that you can really work [with], because they’re going to help you take this organization from a one-person band on to something much larger and hopefully ease your day-to-day stress and anxiety as a founder.”

Scaling is an exciting endeavor, and you don’t have to figure it out alone. Learn more about DWEN and join the discussion with other women entrepreneurs aqui.

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