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Steering your business into successful waters: 5 pro tips on planning as your business grows

Being an entrepreneur can be like steering a ship through storms on open seas. There are ups and downs and challenges to navigating a vessel — your business.
Manning Elliott Partner, Abbe Chivers, CPA, CA 

Being an entrepreneur can be like steering a ship through storms on open seas. There are ups and downs and challenges to navigating a vessel — your business.

As an entrepreneur, you already have the qualities that match this adventure, like being driven and determined. Problem is, these same qualities can also bring you down. So, as your business grows and picks up speed, it becomes increasingly critical to chart a clear path and secure the right kind of crew.

Vancouver Chartered Professional Accountant Abbe Chivers has worked with countless entrepreneurs over more than 20 years at Manning Elliott LLP and knows their plights too well. She’s also witnessed enough success stories to give the following advice to businesses experiencing growth. 

1. Focus your time on what you do best, redistribute the rest.

“Entrepreneurs think that they can do it all,” says Chivers. “When you’re starting out, that’s fine, but you reach a point when you need to be focusing on making the business work well and building it in an efficient way.” That means handing off what you can. If the cost of bringing on help seems prohibitive, ask yourself: "Isn’t your time worth something too?"

Delegation is key and for that to happen, trust is required. So hire accordingly; the first hires in the growth phase are crucial.

2. Hire invested help.

Contract work might fit your business, but engaging employees might not be the big scary step it sounds like. And, it could serve you in the long run.

“I think people are sometimes afraid to go the employee route because they’re not hiring full-time. Even if they are working thirty hours a week, it probably still makes sense and hopefully you’ve got a loyal employee.”

As an employer, you pay for CPP and EI, but you benefit from having a dedicated employee who you can count on. 

3. Surround yourself with experience and expertise.

Fostering network connections can go a long way and building relationships can make the work of running a business that much more exciting.

“You may not need a partner,” says Chivers, “but maybe you need a group of people that you can bounce ideas off that are going to give good feedback. Getting the right advice is so important.”

A casual network connection might tip you off to resources you're unaware of, like funding opportunities. A more formal connection might help you answer a pivotal question, like whether or not to expand. It always makes more sense to invest in bits of consultation as you’re ready before moving ahead with something that is not easily reversed. 

4. Have a good relationship with your banker.

Just because you’ve always dealt with a particular bank does not mean it’s the right fit for your business. You likely need to shop around.

Chivers tells a story of a client who was expanding and needed help with cash flow. They talked to a financial professional who led them to the right source of funds and the organization that was able to provide funding invested in them right away, before even signing documents. “I was shocked,” she says. “I’d never seen anything like that but they said, you know what, you’ve got a fantastic business, you’re going to be successful, you’ve done all these things, and we believe in you.”

5. Corner market knowledge.

It sounds obvious but it is imperative that you really know and understand your market. Others can help — there are certain people who really enjoy being in the know and plugged in. Buy them a coffee and pick their brain. In exchange, share what expert knowledge you have.

Bonus tip: Keep on top of accounts receivables and payables. Chivers warns that letting either of these slide indicates that something bigger could be going on.  

With these refreshers — knowing your niche, the market it fits into, having a support network, and a solid business plan, you can stay focused and sail your entrepreneurial vessel right off into the sunset. Or, at least through calmer waters. 

Ready for more accounting advice and support? Abbe Chivers and her colleagues at Manning Elliott are waiting to help you and your business excel.

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