You made it through your 20s! You’ve found your feet, started to make a bit of noise in your chosen industry and you’re on track with your career. What lies ahead in your 30s?
Many seasoned entrepreneurs look back on their 30s as a decade when they moved from the initial struggle of getting up and running to an era of credibility, when people started taking them seriously.
You’ve been around the block a couple of times — and no doubt made some mistakes along the way — but you’re starting to build a network and kick some goals.
The great thing about your 30s is that you’re still young and have the energy to press on and take your career to the next level.
If you’re one of growing number of young people who set out on their own and started their own business in their 20s, you’re probably starting to feel old, but you’re certainly not!
All businesses go through a lifecycle comprising the following cycles:
If you started your business in your 20s, your 30s is a great time to focus on growth.
You’ve gone through a couple of tax cycles so you understand profit doesn’t equal cash.
Have you proven that you have a viable business model, created customers and sold a product or service?
You’ve more than likely hired a small number of team members, but, if you’re like many startups your business is still heavily dependent on you.
If you want to build a sustainable business you can sell at some stage, you need to break the dependency on you at the same time as focusing on business growth.
Strategies to consider at this stage of your career and your business’ life cycle are:
It’s time to gain an understanding of the drivers of revenue, profit and cash for your business.
Do you know how many active customers you have? How many times a year do they buy from you? What is the average transaction value? Where do leads for new customers come from? What are your sales conversion rates?
Before you press the ‘grow’ button, it’s critically important to understand these drivers so you can allocate resources to those drivers that have the greatest impact.
If you’re a local business focused on a specific set of customers or a niche industry, does your growth sit in finding more of the same, or expanding into new industries?
Does it lie with finding new customer segments, or new geographical areas?
If you’re suburban, can you reach into a nearby metropolitan area? If you’re already there, how about interstate?
Or if you have something that could be sold into international markets, do you have the stomach to invest in a grander growth plan?
Are there other players you could acquire to fast track your growth?
The likelihood is that if you go down this track, you’ll need to borrow.
You’d be wise to reach out to your accountant to help you with cash flow forecasts and budgets and assess risk to ensure you are not overcommitting.
What tasks, currently done by you, could and should be done by someone else?
When is the right time to hire a General Manager or a VP of Sales? And where should you be focusing your time to maximize the benefit to the business?
The 30s are also a popular time for settling down personally and perhaps starting a family.
Owning your own business during those years gives you great flexibility to balance your personal life with your business life.
Last time I looked, business owners don’t have two heads (a business head and a personal head) so you have a real opportunity to achieve balance that works for you.
Finally, when you started your business, you no doubt scrimped and saved and invested every penny very wisely.
As you start to see success in your business, look for growth opportunities — but there is a common trait that you can learn from exhibited by many businesses that go the distance: they are fanatical about conserving cash.
If there is money in the bank, rather than ripping it out and spending it, think about how you can best invest it in the business to build future value.