SCORE Small Business Blog

Growth: What’s Holding Your Business Back?

The Secret to Growing Past $1 Million

Are you trying to grow your business past the $1 million mark, but not getting results? You’re not the only one. Nell Merlino (pictured), founder of the Make Mine a Million program, recently talked with Bloomberg Businessweek about the difficulties women-owned businesses have surpassing this magic number.

Make Mine a Million, which Merlino launched in 2005, aimed to help 1 million women-owned businesses reach $1 million in sales by 2010. Merlino didn’t reach that goal, although she did accomplish a lot: “We’ve raised $10 million and helped women generate $100 million in revenue and create 6,000 jobs,” she told Businessweek’s Karen E. Klein.

While women-owned business grew at almost double the rate of the average U.S. business between 1997 and 2006, that growth has since slowed. Merlino says one factor is the recession, but there are other issues holding women-owned companies back. The big one? Independence.

Let me explain. A 2009 contest Merlino ran garnered 1,500 entries; only 54 women business owners who participated successfully reached the $1 million goal.

What helped those 54 businesses reach $1 million ? One factor, Merlino says, is that they were willing to get help.

They followed all of Make Mine a Million’s recommendations, including attending the organization’s webinars, participating in its 15-minute telephone speed-coaching sessions, and retaining business coaches on their own to push them toward their goals.

They were also willing to get help another way: by hiring. In a survey Merlino’s organization performed of women-owned companies with revenues of $150,000 to $700,000, 87 percent wanted to grow—but 54 percent contended they could grow their companies without hiring.

Merlino notes women tend to avoid hiring because they are worried about being responsible for employees, making payroll and losing control of the business. They often believe that doing everything themselves makes their businesses more manageable. As you’ll probably acknowledge if you’re honest about it, doing everything yourself is a recipe for losing control—which only serves to severely limit your growth.

If you’re looking to grow your business, take Merlino’s advice. Get ready to delegate and free up your own time for big-picture thinking, brainstorming new products and coming up with new ideas. Only then will you enjoy the kind of growth you’re envisioning.

If you’re ready to grow your biz to $1 million, get help from a SCORE mentor. Ask SCORE for help online or Find SCORE near you for in-person assistance.

Rieva LesonskyCEO, GrowBiz Media
Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. | @rieva | More from Rieva

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