Have you ever found yourself asking “What am I doing?” It’s a great question. A lot of times as a small business owner, we keep doing a list of things, and we keep trying to stay busy for busy sake. Does it ever feel like you’re banging your head against the wall and getting nowhere fast? I know, I have days like that and we all will; but how do you avoid it on a regular basis?
I met with a guy last week that looks like this on a daily. He is staying busy and working seven days a week. He’s working to please customers with no clear understanding or process, and making hardly any money. Many of us have all been here. The problem is, if you don’t open your eyes, and see the futility of it, you will continue to do the same things, and continue to get the same results.
How do you break out of it? If you are in this place right now, I want to give you a few things that will hopefully get you out of the rut, and back on track.
First, you need to know where you are going at all times. You need to set a ONE year plan, and commit to it for the entire year. Small business owners need to have a bigger vision for what they are doing and where they are going, but spending too much time on a fancy business plan can be a HUGE waste of time. I don’t know about you, but my strategic plan has a tendency to shift from year to year, especially in the first 5 years. You must have a clear idea about where you want to go over the next 12 months, how you get there will certainly change along the way.
Second, your plan must be based and grounded in reality. Do you really think you can grow at a 300% rate, month over month for six months? If you have only been adding one new customer a week for the last 2 months, what makes you think that all of a sudden you will be able to add 5 per week? Be realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure which leads to frustration and burn out. Look at past history; figure out how you achieved those numbers. Do less of what did not work. Do more of what produced good results. Follow the 80/20 rule.
Third, meet with a group of like minded business owners that can give you feedback and accountability. The best thing about being a business owner is that we don’t have a boss. The worst thing about being a small business owner is that no one is telling us what we need to do. It’s a double edge sword. If you meet with a peer group you will be able to stay on track and get good feedback on the steps you are planning on taking. If you are interested in creating your own group, see the chapter called Building a Board of Advisors.
Fourth (and this is very important), you must be receptive to the advice of others. Most successful people realize their limitations and that they may not have all the answers. We all have room for improvement. I have a friend that is more organized than just about anyone. He has a place for everything, and nothing is EVER out of place. The great thing is that he always tells me, “I have to get more organized I can do better.” If we all had this understanding, and acted on it, we would all continually improve and make our business better.
My friend and I were talking the other day, he’s going on a cruise in 3 weeks, at the time we spoke, I was leaving for a vacation the next day. He had already packed for his vacation, and I had not packed. He is far more intentional about the things he does, and it doesn’t matter if we are talking about business or personal. I need to be more like him and be more organized.
If you become involved with a peer group: be open. Listen to the advice of others and don’t think you know it all. You may just need the perspective of an impartial person to help you see the pitfall you are about to drop into, or the gold rush that awaits you right around the corner.
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