When I talk to business owners, I always ask about their successes first. Then we turn to the challenges. I have heard a number of struggles, excuses, obstacles, and doubts. Here are my top 10 ways to struggle as a business owner.
1. Winging It
Think about what happens when you don’t have dinner plans or food prepped and the family is hungry. You end up spending a lot of money and calories on fast food. Are you running your business the same way? You need to have a solid plan and then you need to follow it. Think about which products or services you will add this year and who is responsible for the rollout. Do you need more staff? How will you change your marketing? Without a plan, you will spend a lot of money without getting results.
2. Ignoring Your Finances
There are basic financial statements that you need to have prepared, and read every month: Balance Sheet, Profit & Loss, and Cash Flow. Managing by bank account balance is a recipe for disaster. As an example, the owner may see money in the bank account and place an order for raw materials without realizing that there is a scheduled payment for a loan that will be coming out of that money. The result could be penalties and fees that could have been avoided. A successful business owner understands where the money comes from and controls where it goes.
3. Spending Money on Marketing without Tracking Results
Marketing has many aspects, and it is easy to spend a lot of money on it. Marketing should be an investment. You run a campaign that results in more sales, thus paying for the marketing with additional profits. If your marketing is not targeted or effective, marketing becomes an expense. It is tempting to turn marketing decisions over to an outside firm. It is up to you to direct how and how much money is spent, then measure the effectiveness. If you don’t see results, try something else.
4. Ignoring Complaints or Reviews
We live in an online world and reviews matter. A 5-Star review is golden and deserves a reply from the owner. Likewise, that negative review must have a response. Acknowledge what was said, offer to correct it and then ask that the review be removed or edited. When there is no response to a review the message is that the business does not care about the customer. Is it fair that someone can impact your image that much? No, but it is very real, so address all reviews, good or bad.
5. Wasting Time
A common refrain in today’s busy world is “I just don’t have enough time.” We all get the same amount of time – 24 hours a day. How you manage your activities is what matters. Focus on what is important and will move you towards your goals. Pay attention to how you spend your time, and how you waste your time. What is more important, rearranging a display or calling a prospect? Another version of this is “I have to do everything if I want it done right.” More on this below.
6. Failing to Train your Team
It is tempting to fall into this trap – “It’s going to take 30 minutes to explain this. It will only take me 10 minutes to do it myself.” That is true for the one-time, one-in-a-thousand task. For everything else that ever needs to be repeated, that 30-minute investment will free up hours of your time going forward. You are paying your staff and support vendors – use them.
7. Putting your Business Ahead of your Family
Look around at the parents at soccer or baseball practice. What are they doing? Emailing, texting, making phone calls, or maybe paying attention to their child. If you have to add family time to your schedule, you are doing it wrong. The people you love deserve the best that you have to give, not the leftovers. An amazing thing happens when you shut down your work and spend time enjoying friends and family. When you do go to work you will feel refreshed and recharged.
8. Letting Fear Hold You Back
No one likes to fail, yet we all do it. What is fear? False Expectations Appearing Real. We create our fears in our mind. Try reframing your thoughts from “what if I fail?” to “what if I succeed?” The only true failure is to never try.
9. Keeping a Poor Performer
No matter how nice the person is, when you accept poor performance, you degrade the performance of the entire organization. Take the time to create job descriptions and performance standards. When the standards are not met, find out why. Offer support and training, then check-in to track progress. If there are still issues, it is time to end the relationship. If you must do someone’s job for them, why are you paying for their wages, benefits, WC insurance, subscriptions, PTO, technology, etc.? Find someone who is capable and will do the job well. The rest of the team will thank you.
10. Seeing Self-Care as a Luxury
Anyone who has ever flown knows the safety instruction to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. You cannot take care of your family, your business, your team, or your customers if you are not at your best. Rest, nutrition, exercise, and relaxation are necessary for us to function optimally. Adding cream and sugar to your fourth cup of coffee may keep you going, but it is not going to give you great results. Neglecting your health is selfish and impacts everyone around you. Take care of yourself. Pay attention to how you start your day. Mental preparation (prayer, meditation, gratitude), exercise, and a healthy breakfast take a short amount of time with huge results.
If you are ready to stop struggling, we are here to help. Click here to get started on having a Successful Business.
Author: Sandy Merritt, Business Coach in Louisville, KY