How to Create More Time and Money to Grow Your Small Business There are three clear and focused choices every entrepreneur must make.

By Carissa Reiniger

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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To grow a small business, you have to figure out how to protect the time and money you have and make sure that you only spend it on the activities and resources that will get you closer to your goal. We are sure you have found yourself asking questions like:

  • Should I do this marketing campaign?
  • Should I buy this advertising spot?
  • Should I go to that networking event?

It often feels like a stab in the dark when you are choosing which opportunities are worth it and which are actually going to be a waste of your resources. To make informed decisions, you need to make three clear and focused choices, and then use them as a filter every single time you are considering spending a minute of your time or a dollar of your money.

Related: 18 Ways You Can Make Money Right Now

1. What do you do?

Most business owners think that when the going gets tough, they have to change their products or services. It's a common knee-jerk reaction to waning sales that actually slows growth even more. When you change your products and services, what your company does becomes less clear to customers, which makes it more complicated for them to buy. This means lost opportunities and fewer sales.

By being laser-focused, you get really good at what you do and also build a name for yourself based on the credibility and momentum that many years in business brings. When you constantly change what you do because you think it will meet the needs of the market or your customers, you are actually decreasing your chances of growth. Businesses that have a very clear "what" and stick to it for the long term grow faster than others who make changes to this core element of their business.

2. Who do you do it for?

Small-business owners often believe that to grow, they have to market their products and services to everyone and anyone. However, the businesses that choose to go after a particular type of customer are the ones they grow the fastest. No small business has enough time or money to be in front of everyone, but when you use your time and money and go deep, you can grow!

Every business needs an Ideal Client, i.e. a profile of the type of client who is worth investing your time to go find. Think about the customers you serve who value your work, who you enjoy working with, who pay you willingly and who are ambassadors for your work. Those are your Ideal Clients, and you want to use all of your time and money trying to find them and not waste a second or a cent on anyone else.

3. On what scale?

Your scale is how far and wide your customers will come from. Getting clear on the scale with which you want to grow will help you make so many decisions about how to find and serve your customers.

Imagine you have designed and developed a beautiful set of furniture. For example, if you decided you wanted to build your business on a local scale, you would create an entirely different business model than if you tried to grow your business on a global scale. For a local business, you might set up a beautiful showroom and host events in your store, do local consignments and work on building a local vibe to your brand. However, if you wanted to build it on a global scale, you might decide to work on distribution deals with other major retailers, build a factory to be able to take your designs and mass produce them.

Related: 7 Steps You Can Take to Stop Trading Time for Money

When you are not clear on which scale you are growing your business, this may result in making a lot of wasteful choices. However, if you know what your desired end result is, you can make strategic decisions about both your business model and your marketing activities right from the start. In this way, you will be able to use your two most valuable assets — time and money — so much better.

When you know what you do, who you do it for and what scale you want to do it on, you can make fast decisions about where to strategically spend your time and money. We all know that the failure rate for small-business owners is high, but after the last 11 years of working with small businesses, we know for a fact that when you know where you are going and make day-to-day decisions to keep yourself focused and on track, you can succeed.

Carissa Reiniger

Founder & CEO, Small Biz Silver Lining

Carissa Reiniger is an advocate for small-business and economic justice. She created the SLAP program, based in behavior-change science, that helps small-business owners set and hit their goals. She writes on the mindset that is required for business owners to succeed.

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