As a business owner it sometimes feels like you are a player manager – telling everyone everything is OK, even if your man has turned his ankle and might be out for the season. This is natural, fake it till you make it, and the power of positive thinking – it’s a good thing – as long as you don’t bury your head in the sand about the extent of your business problems.
If the reality means you need to be honest and say it’s not working, do it;
If the reality means you have to take some risks, spend some money and call in those who can help, do it; and
If the reality means you have to make some cuts that will mean you can survive, it sucks, but you have to do it.
The first step is acknowledging the problem – do you have a list of all the things that are on your mind. If not, pull out a piece of paper and write them all down – allow 47 minutes to do this, set your timer. Be as specific as you can, but don’t think too hard about the details, you are simply wanting to get a picture of the current position. If you know the solution note that down, if not, star it as a job to work out who can help you find the solution. Once you have the ‘challenge’ list ponder it for a day.
Next, set yourself another 47 minutes and prioritise your list, then apply Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog
Principle 3 – apply the 80/20 rule – rationalise your list, be honest and ruthless, only 20% of the things on the list will deliver greater results than 80% of jobs on the list, so only do them!?!
Next step is to invoke Principle 12 Take it One Oil Barrel at a Time – sometimes when things are bad, we need to compartmentalise the problems, deal with them one at a time. Once you’ve knocked off one ‘Oil Barrel’ things should get a little easier, firstly there is one less problem, secondly the knock on effect is that your mind is a little freer to consider the next most important problem and consider what your options for solving that. Also you are one ‘barrel’ closer to your end goal.
Also, to be your best player manager, you should take this opportunity to make some changes to ensure you don’t fall back into bad habits. A good habit is to follow Principle 17 Do the Most Difficult Task First – set aside time, first thing every morning, to Eat that Frog. Get the ugliest job of the day done first, you will feel better, your mind will be a clearer, and your shoulders will have less of a weight on them.
As an entrepreneur we find ways to save money and often the upside is that we get to learn how things work along the way. For example I recently learnt how to build a website, I was pretty determined that I wasn’t going to pay someone 3 grand to create something that I felt didn’t need to be too fancy, it just needed to say what we did. The upside was that I learnt how it works, I also learnt that I didn’t want to do that again! Our new site is so much better, and I got help – you can tell, right?
Well, there are things that I can’t learn, there are things that I really, as much as I’d like to cut corners and save money, I know it ultimately won’t save me money. We see a lot of business owners do this, for all the right reasons, but what we really need to focus on is why?
As a business owner there are just some things that, once we’ve given it a crack, we need to be honest and say, I don’t know about that, but often we forget to face that fact that this should mean: “so I think I should find someone who does”. I think I should cut myself some slack and accept that I don’t need to know that – I just need to know someone who knows how to do that. We see a lot of business owners trying to do it all – why should you be good at everything??
Why do people specialise? Why do businesses that are a niche inside a niche succeed? Quite simply because they know what they are good at, and they focus on that, and it’s what the digital age has enabled, we can find a dietitian that specialises in allergies to foods with night shades – image the size of the Yellow Pages© if we listed these things today….
As business owners this provides great opportunity to help us lighten the load, however business owners are their toughest critics and often really expect too much of themselves. Let’s take an example of preparing your business strategy: there are a million free templates for this, and some of them really are great, where things come unstuck are with industry terms that as marketers or strategists we ‘get’ them, but as with your industry terms, they don’t make a lot of sense to other humans. Exhibit A: a SWOT analysis, this is our way of saying: what are you great at (Strengths); what are your competitors better at (Weakness); what have you yet to maximise within your business (Opportunities); and, where are you at risk from your competitors or industry changes (Threat)…. Simple? Even as I write this and read it back, I’m not sure it’s that easy to explain without talking specifically about your business, working through both pairings together. So the point is, if you took the time to understand the theory behind this principle, how would it impact your business; are you better off finding an expert and working it through together – if it’s of interest to you to learn, then give it a shot, but consider if it is the best use of your time?
Sit down today for 27 minutes (set a timer) and think about what you are good at? Write it down. Note down what you like doing within your business and what you don’t enjoy. Write out what you don’t have a clue about, that you think you should. Then, review your list, think about the other people in your team, what are they good at? What can you hand over to them? What do you want to learn about and find a course/event/coach who can help you learn more. Be clear about what you really need to outsource – who can help? Who are the specialists? And what return would you expect if you spent money on these people, products or solutions?
Come back to this list tomorrow and discuss it with your team – make it happen!
Being an entrepreneur is an exciting title and one that all who hold it, quite rightly do so with a sense of pride. And for many years that feeling carries us through the days when we only have ten dollars in the bank; it makes the toughest days ok; it helps us laugh when we really should be in the corner on the floor. For most business owners this is why we get up every day and see what adventure the day has in stall for us, and we love it!!
So, when did the feeling of being an entrepreneur fade? When did you become a business owner and no longer an entrepreneur? Well, it seems to us that this switch occurs when owners feel they are no longer building something; when it has turned into a job; and when owners spend more time working in their business than working on it.
The realisation of this situation can be extremely enlightening. Unfortunately, a lot of business owners take years to reach the point where they realise they’ve fallen a little out of love with what they created and it’s time to take a moment to sit back and review what they’ve achieved; consider where they are now; and decide what the future will look like.
If you are a business owner, have you reached this point?
If you have been through it, congratulations, I hope you are again reinvigorated for your creation and are looking to the future with renewed passion based on the path you have chosen for your business – growth, exit, or sale.
If you are currently standing at the edge of this consciousness – get ready to enjoy the ride! This can be a very exciting time for you. Of course it’s no picnic – there are some really difficult questions you will need to answer and some major challenges you will need to face. You must be ready for change and open to seeking input from people who don’t love your business like you do, but their input is necessary to give you a fresh perspective; to help you see the future clearly; and for you to be in a place to embrace change.