When I ask business owners what is their No. 1 business priority these days, the answers are fairly similar — a combination of team issues, competitive sales and the ever-shrinking bottom line.
Surprisingly, these responses aren’t much different than in previous years.
When you think back, you went into business because you wanted more — more freedom, added security and a better income. Maybe you had an entrepreneurial spirit, a burning passion and strong motivation to be successful.
So are you where you thought you’d be? Or, do you find yourself wearing too many hats, trying to manage everyone at all levels because, “If I don’t, it won’t get done.”
You’re working too many hours for too little reward. You have little work/life balance and it’s affecting your family.
When you started your business, while you were consumed by all the details surrounding the product or service you’d sell, did you take time to design a business that one day could run without you? This was probably farthest from your mind.
Consequently, over the years you’ve become so consumed with working “in” your business that you’ve never scheduled time to work “on” your business. The result is you’re stuck managing business operations because the place can’t function without you. And finding time to learn and implement necessary change never happens.
My experience is that most owners have some basic business knowledge. Many have learned on the job, from a close mentor, friend or family member.
Often I hear, “I’ve been in this business for 10 (possibly 15, 20) years and know what works and what doesn’t.” This reaction only maintains the status quo.
Very few business owners have had formal management training, let alone training in all of the functions necessary to successfully run a business. Best practises in the areas of management, marketing, sales, finance, human resources, customer service, information technology, systems and procedures are equally important.
In a previous column I stated that the primary difference between your income now and your income in five years will be the knowledge you gain and the choices you make along the way to apply it all.
Even though you may not be happy with the current situation, fear of something new or different pushes our comfort level. Taking action takes time and effort, and it’s easy to make excuses.
But consider that taking the time to learn something new and different may be your next best opportunity. Take a look at the following positive outcomes.
• Knowledge is empowering. Self-improvement boosts confidence. Whether it’s becoming more proficient with technology, or learning good problem-solving and decision-making skills, adding to your skill-level tool kit will bring added value to your business.
• Rewriting a compelling vision and planning a meaningful, clear direction for the future will renew your business focus. Statistics indicate that developing and following through with your goals (specific, measurable, achievable, results-oriented, time-based) are proven to be the keys to personal and business success.
• Becoming a positive role model earns your team’s respect. A fully engaged (and happy) team is more mindful and take better care of business — and your customers. You’ll get better and longer-lasting results. The potential for growth is more predictable.
• Personality analysis helps you to understand behaviour — yours and others. It assists you to place the right person in your business, working in an environment that suits them whether independently or in a group. Understanding human nature and interaction helps you to communicate more effectively both personally and professionally.
• Finally, the worth of a business is more than the business owner. Certainly a sound reputation attracts clients and is integral to ongoing success. But the true value of any company includes a top-notch team and the streamlined processes and systems that operate your business. It’s time to learn how to make your plan to get out of your business.
ActionCoach is written by John MacKenzie of ActionCoach, which helps small- to medium-sized businesses and other organizations. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 403-340-0880.