Does the idea of “going corporate” make you cringe? “Being corporate,” “going corporate,” and “working for corporate” have been slurs for small business owners and independently-minded workers for at least 30 years.
Maybe you’ve felt exploited by corporate greed. Maybe you’ve felt the man condescending to you.
Or maybe you just started your business to do something different a different way.
It’s time to reclaim corporate.
What does “corporate” really mean? Well, the root of the word (corporare) means to form into a body. It’s been used to describe communities coming together to govern themselves and it’s been used to describe people of faith coming together to worship.
When it comes to business, going corporate means to create a body of systems: policies, models, frameworks, procedures. Going corporate means being organized, knowing how things work, and intentionally choosing to operate in a way that gets results.
Too many micro and small business owners choose to make it up as they go.
They’re fighting the need to set their marketing, product development, outsourcing, client intake, or sales into systems because they fear those systems create rigidity. But systems and frameworks don’t create rigidity, they give you a clear space to play and create in.
Going corporate gives you the ability to be more creative and take more risks.
The other reason people fear going corporate is that corporations have a reputation for hurting people. They create systems for the purpose of profit instead of for the purpose of taking care of people.
It’s like that old adage: Systems don’t hurt people, people hurt people.
There are plenty of corporations run by people who care who create systems that are efficient, effective, profitable, and people-driven. If you care about people, your systems can too.
And, just like systems and frameworks allow for more creativity, systems and frameworks also allow you to take better care of people. When people know what you expect of them, they feel more comfortable and better able to do what they need and want to do.
If you’ve been resisting going corporate with your business, it’s time to rethink your fears. There’s a whole new world waiting for you, your business, and your customers when you make the decision to strategically and intentionally run your business.
Don’t get me wrong, saying “no” is an important skill. But that doesn’t mean that it’s ever fun.
Often, when your business starts rocking and rolling, it’s the direct result of saying “yes” to many things. Then you find yourself in with the choice between either curling up in the fetal position and sobbing or needing to say “no” more often.
Many of us opt for the fetal position.
But don’t let that be you.
In fact, my chief motive in avoiding “no” is that my reflex is still to say “yes” and I’d rather not tempt myself.
The good news is that you can actually put systems in place in your business to avoid saying that nasty two-letter word. These systems can even help you project a clear value statement, communicate a better understanding of your ideal client, and bring in more revenue.
And that means you can get more of the “yes” you really want.
1) Have a clear scope of work.
When you get to the point of needing to say “no,” you have a pretty good idea of the work you like to do and the work you were willing to tolerate on your growth path. You probably have a web presence (whether it’s a shop, a Work With Me page, or a Bio) that’s less-than-clear about the work you do.
Likely, you’re also getting a lot of work from referrals and that means that any “yes” you give to work you merely tolerate has an exponential effect of people wanting more of that work.
To avoid saying “no” to work outside of what you love, narrow the scope of your work. Get super clear about the kind of work that turns you or your team on and leave out mentions of the stuff you’ve tolerated in the past.
2) State your price.
Let’s face it, the need for “no” increases when people start haggling with you. And people will haggle when they don’t know what your starting price is to begin with.
You may have avoided putting a price on your work publicly in the past because you weren’t entirely sure what that price was (ahem, more haggling) but you know now. Or you should.
So set that price, or a price range, and clearly communicate it throughout your web presence.
3) Communicate your time frame.
You’re busy. You don’t have time to squeeze in a project, do you? But… maybe just this once. Or twice. Or three times.
The thing about “yes” is that it swells up into a tsunami of yes. Then, there you are, standing on the beach, watching the killer wave come toward you.
Of course, it would be better to be on higher ground from the get go. Be realistic about your time frames. You know how long the average project takes. You know how many projects you can handle at once. And you know how much of a buffer between now and a new project you prefer.
You can state all three of those things explicitly as a way to set clear expectations for prospects. “The average project takes approximately 6 weeks. We take 3 projects at a time. And new projects are schedule approximately 3 weeks out.”
Now, you’ve drastically reduced the likelihood that someone is even going to ask you to fit something in.
4) Know your policies and communicate them to your team.
When all else fails, let someone else say “no.” It isn’t a cop out, it’s team building!
In all seriousness, if you have a problem saying “no,” choose team members who don’t, tell them what works best for your business (your policies), and let them deliver the bad news. Likely, they’re less emotionally invested in the “no” than you are and can deliver it with respect, graciousness, and resolution.
Keep in mind that you often don’t know what your policies are until you’re faced with needing to say “no.” So keep a working document where you record what your always-going-to-be-no’s are and share that document with your team. While it might not keep you away from the initial “no,” it’ll be easier to avoid in the future.
Learning to say “no” is part of the growth of any business (or human, for that matter) but making changes in your marketing, policies, or team to avoid having to say “no” is worth the effort.
You’ll find that these changes often bring about a lot more “yes” from all the right people and projects. Click to tweet!
There are three kinds of work you do a regular basis.
First, there’s work that gets immediate results. It might be actually delivering the service you provide or creating the product you sell. It could be writing on your blog or updating product descriptions. It could be ordering supplies or promoting your work.
Second, there’s work that should be done by someone else. This varies depending on your business and your strengths within that business. It could be fiddling with your website, sending out emails, or scheduling clients. It could be writing copy or creating advertisements. It could be shipping packages or bookkeeping.
Third, there’s the work that contributes to long-term growth. Often this is work that requires your expertise but that isn’t the hands-on work that you sell. It’s systems work. It’s process work. It’s relationship building. It’s working on the vision (and the byproducts of it).
You probably do a lot of the first and second kind of work. You are constantly after immediate results (they feel good, right?) because immediate results are better than no results. And you do a lot of work that you really have no business doing because you have chosen not to invest the time or money in having someone else do it.
That means that the work that contributes to long-term growth gets the short shrift. When you don’t work towards the future, you leave yourself in the hamster wheel of constant hustling. Sound familiar?
…while you’re doing it, doing it, doing it, there’s something much more important that isn’t getting done. And it’s the work you’re not doing, the strategic work, the entrepreneurial work, that will lead your business forward, that will give you the life you’ve not yet known.
— Michael E Gerber, The E-Myth Revisited
If you’re beginning to lose faith in the dream of having a business that takes care of you (instead of you taking care of it), then it’s probably because you find yourself doing so much of the first two categories of work. When that type of work is disproportionate to the results you see, frustration is the natural byproduct.
When you exercise your responsibility to long-term growth work, even if you’re not seeing immediate results, you can better weather the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. If a particular idea doesn’t work out, you have the systems or relationships in place to get you through. Or you have the comfort of knowing your next idea or opportunity is already in the works.
If you’re ready to do more long-term growth work and less of the rest, you need to schedule it. Put it on the calendar. Honor it like it was a client appointment or a project deadline. This is the work that will keep your business in business – respect it.
Once you’ve got that kind of work on the calendar, make sure that you’re creating systems that reduce the amount of other work you’re doing. Use your scheduled time to create a training or on-boarding process for an assistant or business manager. Also use that time to plan for new products or services that require less effort or active time from you. Plan to shift your business model to one that leverages your time & talents.
Bottom line: how would you spend your time if doing work that contributed to long-term business growth was your primary responsibility?
‘Cause it is.
— PS —
Kick Start Labs designed a brand-new Lab to help you get out of this rut and into strategic product development. It’s call Product Development 101. It’s available for a limited time on its own or as part of a Kick Start Labs membership. Click here for more info.