It’s easy to start a small business online.
By that I mean very small. Just you at home, building your business one step at a time.
Maybe you have one or two partners, also working out of their own homes, keeping in touch through email and messaging.
Your site developers could be a thousand miles away. If you choose to outsource any marketing, that can be done at a distance too.
Truth be told, there are plenty of online businesses that thrive at this level.
But most of these — I think — depend to a large degree on the continued input of the founder or founders. Take away these one or two people and there’s very little left of the ‘business.’
And when a small business depends on the continuous input of one or two individuals, there is usually a ceiling to the size you can achieve.
But what if you want to get bigger?
What if you want to build a business that could be worth tens of millions in a couple of years?
Well, that’s easy.
Get some extra funding. Rent some office space. Employ some smart people. And hope that your business idea is a good one.
Piece of cake.
You’d think so. But it’s often not easy at all. And the really high barriers to growth often aren’t the practical ones. They’re the personal, emotional barriers.
Leaving home can be hard to do.
It’s true. Growing your ‘home’ business into something much larger can be quite a personal and emotional challenge.
Up until a few months ago I spent a lot of time coaching and training at an entrepreneurial training center in Vancouver, British Columbia. I watched hundreds of small and aspiring business people go through the programs there.
The founder of the training program, Craig Young, developed a system that moved the students forward on two levels.
The first level involved teaching them the basic, practical skills of creating and managing a business.
The second level, which was taught concurrently, focused on making each individual more ‘entrepreneurial’ on a personal level.
This was a tough journey for a lot of students. They were usually fast to learn the practical side of things. But many students more or less froze when it came to overcoming some personal barriers to moving forward.
I remember one individual in particular whose business plan grew from half an inch thick to one inch to two inches and so on.
He had a good idea. He had a plan that was great at the half-inch stage. But he never achieved the ‘entrepreneurial maturity’ to move forward with his business. He just kept on planning.
This kind of ‘freezing’ can happen at any stage in the growth of a small company.
Some people freeze at the thought of moving their business out of their home.
Others freeze at the time they need to hire their first employees.
Others can’t get past the idea of relinquishing total control by attracting outside talent with offers of equity.
What’s the answer when you reach one of these points and have trouble moving forward?
Well, perhaps you’ve reached a stage past which you just don’t want to go. That’s fine.
But if that’s not the case — and you get the sense that it’s ‘you’ who’s holding you back — you’ll need some help. And the best help can often come from someone who’s already walked the same path.
This may be a business ‘mentor.’ It may involve finding a partner. Or creating an Advisory Board. Or you may just need a good friend to give you a swift boot up the backside.
From what I’ve seen with others, you’ll likely experience a big surge in growth immediately following the time that you cross the barrier.
Go for it.