Getting past $1 million in revenues is a goal that most entrepreneurs would love to achieve, and one that frequently remains as elusive as it is attractive. More than 75% of all U.S. firms with employees haven’t topped $1 million in sales, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. But if your business can make it to $1 million and reach a level of sustainability, it will have a much higher chance of survival. Better still, you can grow your business to reach the $10 million revenue mark.
“Getting over the $10 million hump in our business has taken some time and has not been an overnight process, as some might think,” says Nicole Smartt, vice president and co-owner of Star Staffing, which has been in business since 1998. “We worked tirelessly on repositioning ourselves in the market and becoming known as an industry leader. In two short years (during the recession), we broke our companies’ sales and profit record. We had finally exceeded the $10-million hump that seemed so hard to get past years before and have continued to increase our profit each year since.”
Smartt received the Forty Under 40 award, recognizing business leaders under the age of 40. In addition, here she offers five tips to help steer business owners in the right direction and, with time, over the $10-million hump:
Hire Talented, Driven People. It may seem like a no-brainer, but the quality of your staff reflects your company. Aim for people who are more talented at what they do than you are at what you do, and you’ll be on the right track. Spend time hiring candidates who add to both your business and your company culture. Focus on hiring people with a can-do attitude over flawless experience. Candidates who are engaged and willing and able to tackle any challenge can be more teachable and bring valuable energy.
Find Your Uniqueness. Think about what will set you apart from your competition. For us, it was personalization. “I spent a lot of time closing every deal that I had the opportunity to, and for each deal I put together a unique proposal for that client. I researched each business inside and out to truly understand their needs. I focused on providing a personalized approach to everything we did; it really set us apart from other agencies,” explains Smartt. There is no ‘one size fits all’ for clients.
Remember Marketing and Networking Go Hand-in-Hand. The best way to build your brand is still through word-of-mouth. “My goal has always been to be like Starbucks: on every corner. While we can’t have an office in every location, we can use mobile signs, flyers, and so on,” notes Smartt. Spend at least one hour a day on social media, growing your network and strategically connecting with leaders. Your target audience should dictate where you spend your time, and there’s ample research out there to help you determine which social media tools to focus on.
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