I was having lunch with a good friend at the weekend and we were discussing the virtues and pitfalls of running our own businesses. My friend, a successful, self-made woman, was sharing how some business owners in her industry (creative design) are falling out of love with their job due to an overwhelming and ever-increasing workload of operational matters that people have neither the time nor a clue, how to deal with.
I could see where she was coming from. I regularly speak with small and start-up businesses, in fact, I was at an event on Monday where the same problems and hurdles were being voiced by some of those in attendance. Delivering a product or service that is exceptional is one thing, dealing with the management of day-to-day business and staff is something else. With limited time and budget, it is easy to see why some businesses struggle to grow, employ new people or simply keep afloat. It’s such a shame when great people with so much to offer don’t seize the opportunity to flourish due to a lack of training or commitment to the important commercial aspects of running a business.
I often hear people say things like;
‘I don’t have time for marketing’
‘I’m not sure how to get the best out of my staff’
‘We can’t seem to win enough work’.
The list goes on and on. It is OK to feel this way and it is perhaps more common than some people think. We see lots of shining examples of successful and brilliant businesses every day in magazines articles, online, LinkedIn, etc, but we rarely see what is really going on behind closed doors. I would suggest that some of the exemplars we admire aren’t all as organised and well-oiled as we might expect. A large turnover doesn’t necessarily mean large profit, and a long-established trading history is also no guarantee of success. Business leaders need to adapt the way they run or manage their empires when things aren't working as much as they do in response to changes in their industry. Things DO change. To resist change is to standstill and potentially to fail.
Being in the grip of frustration and a feeling of lack of progress can impact your work and personal life. I know, I’ve been there! Seeking some help and putting a little time and extra resource into fixing the problem could be the catalyst to getting things back running the way they should or could be. Would the cost of getting some help offset money lost through continued under performance? Test the theory – how much easier would things be if you devised and implemented an ongoing, straight-forward marketing campaign? Would you get more time to do other tasks if you could rely on a colleague or staff member who is currently not pulling their weight or who is underutilised/ poorly trained to share some of the burden? Would your cash-flow and prospects improve if you approached your sales pitches in a different way, perhaps with more vigour and a well-rehearsed, revamped pitch you were comfortable delivering? If the answer is ‘yes’ – get to it! Implement change and get back to doing what you love.
You may not need a wholesale restructuring of the business, it might just be a few areas that require a little tinkering. Whatever the remedy, it isn’t going to happen by itself. Help is out there. There are some excellent business mentors and programmes available that cater to a wide audience. Some of the most successful people in business have and continue to have mentors who they go to for guidance and support when they need it (www.virgin.com/entrepreneur/five-business-leaders-who-have-mentor-t...).
Attending local networking sessions or ‘hubs’ is also a great way of gaining peer-to-peer support from fellow business owners and individuals who have or are experiencing the same problems as you and who might have the key to helping you resolve some.
Get back to loving what you do and remember why you started your business in the first place. It can be done. There are lots of ways businesses fall into a spiral of decline, but thankfully there are lots of ways to get back on top.
The first action is to take action…
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