As many of you know, my business has grown in the last four years—almost entirely due to creating a clear vision, setting solid goals and bringing in people to help. And, I’ve had my fair share of virtual assistants and subcontractors who didn’t help as I would have liked them to. A few created more work for me than they actually helped. Just like you, I’ve also had clients that always expected more than they were willing to pay—you could say that they were demanding and high-maintenance. I run through the exercise below to help me determine how to continue moving forward. I hope that it helps you, as well.
Circle of Support – What people does it take to run a profitable business?
Whether we run a large company with dozens of employees or our own solo business, we rely on a support team of vendors, customers, employees, contractors, and other associates to help us carry out our business goals. Here’s a fun exercise to discover the strengths and weaknesses of your business support team and how you can increase and strengthen the support you have. This exercise takes some time and shouldn’t be rushed. It’s a phenomenal tool when you are truly thinking about how to grow your business.
Take out a large blank sheet of paper and draw a small circle in the middle. Write your name in the circle. This represents you.
Draw a little larger circle next to your circle. Write your employees’ names and major functions in this circle. Draw a similar circle for contractors’ names and functions. If you have partners and/or affiliates, include them in a big circle.
Draw a small circle for your five largest clients, and write their names in the circles. Draw another small circle for your five largest vendors, and write their names in the circles.
Draw one more circle for your business mentors and coaches, and write their names inside the circle. If you have any more major groups related to your business, draw them now.
These circles represent your business and all of the people you rely on to get your job done.
Now, think about what groups you belong to that relate indirectly to your business. It could be a professional association, a licensing agency, or a networking group. Make large circles for each of the groups you feel connected to, and write some of the key names you know that are part of each of the groups.
Add a few more circles in the same way if you have more business associates to list or other groups that you didn’t add above. If you want to, you can also include your personal support team: the nanny, cook, gardener, esthetician, wardrobe consultant, makeup artist, nail artist, hair stylist, nutritionist, personal workout trainer, butler, chauffeur, masseuse, travel agent, and water boy. Okay, maybe listing the water boy is getting a little carried away.
The sheet should now represent all of the important people in your business that support you in one way or another. It’s a lot, isn’t it?
Now is where the aha’s come in:
- Take a look at your to do list and see if there are holes in your team that you need to fill. Are there job openings or are you ready to bring in more support? Back to your piece of paper, note the openings or potential openings with a yellow highlighter.
- With a green highlighter, mark the people who are most positive and supportive to you. You may want to let them know how much you appreciate them if it’s been a while.
- With a red highlighter, mark anyone who is costing you more than supporting you. It may be time for a change in team members.
- With a purple highlighter, list the five people you most look up to and can count on for great advice. These people should either be the ones who offer you expert advice or are ahead of you in business.
We’ll stop here, but you can continue selecting colors to evaluate the relationship of the people in your circles.
When you take a look at your relationship circles, what do you notice?
- Where are you and your business fully supported?
- Where could you use more help?
- Where do you need to make some replacements—people who create more work for you?
- What else do you notice about your business network?
Make a list of action items you can do to strengthen your business support network.
This is a great exercise to allow you to consciously evaluate and improve the ever-important support system in your business. When you have a great team, you can accomplish so much. If you need help with your strategic planning, budgeting and the creation of simple accounting systems, please call us.