How does a one-woman business handle big growth, fast?

Hello, this is Laura Lee Rose – author of TimePeace: Making peace with time – and I am a business and efficiency coach that specializes in time management, project management and work-life balance strategies. I help busy professionals and entrepreneurs create effective systems so that they can comfortably delegate to others, be more profitable and have time to enjoy life even if they don’t have time to learn new technology or train their staff.  I have a knack for taking big ideas and converting them into smart, sound, and actionable ideas.

At the end of the day, I transform the way you run your business into a business you love to run.

Today’s comment came from a busy professional and an entrepreneur:

How does a one-woman business handle big growth, fast?

I started my own interior design business where I work with clientele from my husband’s real estate office. I initially created a business plan and tried to forecast my numbers, but I didn’t account for how popular my services would be. I am happy for the business opportunities, but I’m feeling overwhelmed by the growth rate. It is tricky to outsource my kind of work because I need to bring on talent that has a real eye for design. How do I handle this? Thank you!

First let’s make sure you are spending your time on the right things. Even though you might be feeling overwhelmed by the great, new business – how much time are you actually spending on interior design (in your area of genius). There are so many other duties and tasks involved in a business. You may be feeling overwhelmed because you are wearing multiple hats in your business and not because you have “too many clients”.

Don’t automatically go for CLONING

Your first move should not automatically go to “hiring someone that does your unique service or talent”. In this instance, don’t assume that you need to outsource your kind of work to someone else. That might be a solution down the line – but it should not be your first solution. Interior design is your passion and your genius. You should be the only one that does it like you do.
The issue with trying to find someone that does the same thing as you – is that you will be creating a competitor on your own staff. Even when you hire a young intern to mentor, that person will eventually take your training and go somewhere else. Now you are less unique.
Before doing this – consider creating a Certification Program or Licensing product that allows you to sell your unique brand of interior design training. More on this later in this article.

Hand-off Administration Duties

One suggestion is to hand-off and delegate tasks that are not directly associated with your unique talent and service. Keep “what you love to do” for yourself and outsource the other critical items that keep the business going.
Hiring an executive’s assistant will give you more time to do the things that only you can do. This allows you to hand-off some of the correspondence, marketing, client follow-up, initial questionnaire/surveys, errands pickup/deliveries and everything else that is keeping you from your actual designing. Your executive assistant should be documenting all your procedures so that they can automate and optimize your current administration tasks that are taking time. As your executive assistant get things more organized and under control, you and she will have more time to do attack larger projects.

Optimize and automate

Have your executive assistance invest time in optimizing and automating most of your administrative, marketing and sales procedures. Incorporating tools and repeatable processes will reduce error and rework. As we mentioned before, the more streamline your procedures are – the more time you can spend on the next business level. This will also give you additional time to do your interior design.

Sales Drives the Business Bus

Since your husband’s business is your main source of leads, you may not need a salesman for your company. If you are not getting enough leads, considering interviewing talent in the sales and marketing. You are in business to make money. And sales drives the business bus. Without business leads, your pipeline of potential clients will dry up.


Hiring another person that you are willing to mentor/train on the interior design side can certainly be a solution down the line. Be sure you have a contract that includes a “noncompeting clause” for a certain length of time (i.e. 1 year). This will protect you from spending time training someone and then that person immediately leaving and working for someone else.
At first, this person will shadowing you on your service visits. You will not be doubling your business at first. There will be a learning curve. This person will be responsible for documenting and recording the way you conduct your services as they shadow you and learn. Eventually, these documents will become your training materials for other new-hires. If your services are unique enough and in much demand, consider creating a Certification Program in which people will pay to learn your unique techniques and concepts. They will be certified as being trained under you and you can even license their use of your patterns, templates and strategies.
It’s not an overnight activity. But as you mentor your new-hire, think down the line. How can you productize your training and mentoring of this new-hire?


With every step in your business, don’t just think of the immediate step.   Think of how this current step can evolve your business into the next level.

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