You can’t deny it any longer. Things just aren’t looking good for your small business this quarter. And it has you seeing red. You’ve racked your brain trying to find out why. Suddenly it hits you – what if I’m the problem? As hard as it might be to admit, it’s the one problem you have total control to fix. Take a look at these warning signs so you can avoid causing your business to fail.
Remember all that work you put into your plan when you started your business? It helped you get your start-up financing and set you out on a path. But where is it now? If it’s gathering dust on the shelf, you’re doing your business a disservice. Chances are you’ve veered off course. Get your business plan back out and evaluate where you’re investing your time and money. Consider abandoning the things that don’t support the goals in your plan.
Sure you’re good at some things. But that doesn’t mean you have super powers to do everything by yourself. Even Superman had his kryptonite. So stick with the tasks that will make the biggest difference in your business’ success. Seek help on all the other stuff. That means you’ll have to develop a level of trust that others could do the job just as well (maybe even better) than you. The payoff is that it frees you up to focus on the things that will bring in more customers and revenue – two good things if you want to get your business back on track.
Running a business is a little like operating an apple orchard. You plant the seedling trees, feed them, and prune the branches along the way. It may be years before you pick your first fruit. Harvest too soon and you may stunt the prospects of future growth. The same is true of your business. Are you reinvesting profits back into your business? It’s tempting to draw more income if you have a good month. But keep a long-term focus. You might be better off hiring an additional employee that will increase your sales for the next month instead.
Not every decision you make turns out to be the right one. That’s okay because success is often the result of several failures before you land on the right one. The problem comes when you stick with a wrong decision for too long. Business professionals call that “escalation of commitment.” It happens when people rationalize their decisions even though the results grow progressively worse. You can avoid that by establishing checkpoints along the way. Use them to measure your progress and change course if you need to.
Your staff is likely your best revenue generators. When they perform at their peak, they provide stellar service to customers. And satisfied customers mean more sales. But poor performing employees not only fail to live up to that expectation, they can bring others down too. Are you enabling their poor performance? Take a look at how you monitor performance. You may need to provide additional training in order to bring a poor performer up to speed. Or you may need to dismiss the employee and look for a replacement. Either way, it’s on you to take action.
Recognizing you have a problem is an important first step. Consider whether any of these symptoms might describe you. Then take action to put your business back on track.