How’s business these days? You’re probably asked that question a lot. Most small-business owners are, and most have some variation of the following canned response: “Good, good, yeah, business is good.”
But it’s not good, is it? It’s just OK. And there are moments you consider giving up and re-entering the work force, because you’re working far too hard and way too long for far too little money – and all that free time to spend with your family and on your hobbies? Not happening, is it?
You might wonder if you’re simply not cut out for business or if you’re just prone to a life of hard labor no matter which fork in the road you travel.
Nonsense! You’re making business mistakes, sure, but chances are those mistakes can be remedied. Not easily, because the mistakes that are holding you back are ingrained in your behavior – they’re who you are. What’s most interesting is that they’re the same “flaws” that prompted you to go into business for yourself in the first place. The irony is thick, but it can be sliced with a sharp-enough knife – or, at least, the realization of what business mistakes you’re making and how to fix them.
The following presents five things holding you back from business success and how to fix them.
Of course, you want to sell a perfect product or perform a service perfectly. You want the perfect company. And the perfect life. The reality is that no one – and nothing – is perfect. The problem is when you are so bent on perfectionism you end up being inefficient – and miss opportunities to increase your business. Sometimes, you just have to put it out there and see if it sticks.
One of my colleagues has spent more than 18 months choosing a brand name for his business. All the while, he has ignored the need to launch his business and attract customers, thus drastically reducing his working capital … on nothing. He is a perfectionist and can’t settle on the perfect name, but what he needs to do is just pick one and go with it. Even Phil Knight wasn’t thrilled with the famous Nike logo, but due to time constraints conceded that it would grow on him. By now, I’m sure it has.
You know everything about your business, right? That’s a good thing, because you don’t need help. You’re the man (or woman) with the plan, and that’s how you like it. It’s one of the reasons you started your business, after all.
The fact is, you do need help. I highly recommend recruiting a small board of advisers to help you make business decisions. Find three to five people who have different, yet successful, backgrounds in business and woo them to your side. Make it easy for them to meet, and also offer incentives. You don’t have to pay them, but you could buy dinner. Meet monthly, at least, to review the state of your business and to run ideas by them. Without fail, you’ll glean insights and valuable advice that will help you grow your business – and you’ll make the kind of business networking connections that can lead to huge sales.
And if you don’t like what your board has to say? You don’t have to listen. You’re in charge, after all.
Fear of failure is a huge weight to bear, and it’s often related to perfectionism. You’re not afraid of taking risks, or you wouldn’t have started your business; but once you have a big idea, or a unique idea for a marketing campaign, you tend to pocket it in favor of more traditional or conservative campaigns. Your big ideas will never see the light of day – and you’ll never realize the maximum potential of your business – if you’re constantly afraid of failure.
Accept that you will fail. Determine to learn from your failures. Realize this is part of the process of building a successful business.
4. Refusal to delegate
At your business, you wear all the hats, right? This is a huge mistake. You should instead delegate and outsource anything you can: bookkeeping, accounting, billing, marketing, sales, production, and printing. Some business owners have to do everything, but that path leads to nothing. Determine what your role in the business is – where you are most valuable – and stick to it. Hire others to handle the rest.
5. Lack of systems
Wherever possible, develop systems for your business. Systems help you keep your business in order and in check as well as make it possible to track your business process. From regularly scheduled business meetings and evaluations to marketing systems to production cycles, the more you can develop systems for your business the smoother it will run. And an efficiently run business will allow you the time and resources to help it grow.