Every day I am surrounded by small business owners, which is my life’s joy, as my mission is to reduce that dreaded small business failure statistic. I am a firm believer that the lifeblood of our communities and economies stems from the success of our small businesses. Therefore the more successful we can make our small businesses the better it is for all of us.
Oops, off my soapbox now. LOL.
In my encounters with small business owners, one of the most common things I hear is: “I’m drowning; I know things need to change, but I have no idea where to start.” If you have felt this way, you are definitely NOT alone.
Often as entrepreneurs and business owners, we feel alone on our journey and that everyone else is doing better than us because we always try to put our best face forward and not admit that we’re struggling…Fake it Till You Make It; right?
Well, though that saying has some value, it is also the reason why so many of us feel like no one can imagine what we are going through. This, however, isn’t the case.
Though other entrepreneurs and owners might not have been through your exact situation, I can tell you, we’ve all be through something that was incredibly challenging, devastating, demoralizing and made us feel like there was no way out. If you haven’t felt that yet, you’re just getting started, so buckle in!
One of the most common feelings I find in business owners is the feeling of being overwhelmed and trapped.
Generally, when we start our business ventures, we are bootstrapping it and often doing EVERYTHING ourselves. This then becomes a habit and as we grow and become more successful, there is just more work that needs to be done and yet we stay stuck in the start-up mindset and get so buried in our to-dos that we can’t see anything but this. If we stop to take a breath things might collapse around us…or so we think.
We become exhausted and stressed and know we can’t continue in this manner for very long and keep our health and sanity, but with 50 balls in the air at the same time, how do you decide what to focus on without letting everything else drop?
Now, what I am going to propose will scare some of you, because YES you must carve out a little (just a very little) time to work on this.
Are you thinking: “But I don’t have 1 free minute in my day?”
That’s ok if you are; the biggest reason businesses come to me for help is because they have NO time and want to do something about it. So again, you are not alone in this thought and fear.
Here is the question I want you to ask yourself:
If I do not take action and continue to operate as I currently am, is it sustainable and will it allow me to reach my goals and dreams without killing me and devastating my loved ones in the process?
Be honest! Don’t you want to not dread your day; be home for your kids’ soccer game or to tuck them into bed at night; not stress about finances; not fight with your spouse about your work hours; not worry how you are going to get it all done?
If so, read on!
Take an honest, real look at all the areas of your business and evaluate how they are performing.
Look at: sales, marketing, lead management, client intake, production, fulfillment, accounting, customer service, staff management, software/technology, product/service creation & development, etc.
Figure out which areas frustrate you the most. Does it consume most of your time…but you don’t want it to? Are you not getting the results you want?
Then examine what is and isn’t working and the challenges and barriers you are encountering. Yes, I said what IS working. So often when we are fed up and want/need change, we focus on the bad and how to change that. Yet it is rare to find an area where nothing is working properly. Normally there are pieces that are good and we need to preserve and build on those.
Next, we need to evaluate what other areas are being affected or are affecting our results in the area(s) in question. The different aspects and areas of your business do not live in a bubble and you shouldn’t treat them like they do. What happens in one area can have direct or indirect effects in a different area. Sometimes is obviously and other times is more subtle or convoluted, yet these need to be taken into account so that we understand better how changes will affect the company as a whole.
This is a step I’ve always done for myself and my clients, yet I have to credit the brilliant authors of The One Thing (great read if you haven’t yet!) for actually calling attention to the power of this step and making me realize I naturally was doing this already….see the power of looking at what IS working; it makes you feel good and know you are on a good track and not a total disaster.
We start this step by asking ourselves one simple, yet incredibly powerful question:
What ONE change will make the biggest impact toward reaching your goal?
Re-read that and let it sink in for a few seconds.
Now, yes that is a simple question, yet it is KEY to start moving forward instead of just running on high speed, trapped on a treadmill.
There is no right or wrong answer to this question and there are various ways of looking at the biggest impact.
You are looking at it in terms of what change will be the quickest and easiest to accomplish to give you that awesome early win that will help keep you going and excited to tackle the next change.
Or it could be an impact that has the biggest financial reward; or biggest impact on freeing up your time.
Whatever it is that you feel will best help you on your journey to reaching your goal.
Oh, and if you are not 100% rock solid clear on your goal (not just your goal to survive today or this month, but your big dream goal) check out my article here on quick and easy steps to gain the clarity you need to successfully complete the steps outlined in this article: JennaWaites.com/where-is-your-business-going
Almost done! We now know where we are going (see article linked above if not), the current state of affairs and where to start.
Now, HOW do we actually make this happen?
You need to ask yourself a series of questions:
- What result(s) do you want to achieve? Don’t be flowery here, lay out concrete, measurable results.
- What shouldn’t happen? Yes, you need to figure out how to avoid or prepare for possible pitfalls before you break an ankle.
- What steps do you need to take to accomplish your change?
- What resources do you need? This is KEY to ensuring a successful implementation, whether the resources you need are tools, software, finances, people, guidance, education, etc.
These steps are not a one and done. This is something you need to schedule into your day/week/month so that you are continually evaluating your progress and determining you new One change and the steps you need to get there.
Once you get the flow down, it will become quicker and easier and the reward will be achieving the company and life of your dreams!
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As the founder of 3 companies, a recovering engineer and 2-time Peace Corps volunteer, Jenna has learned how to combine her analytical, systems-based engineering background with an innovative and creative approach to develop custom business solutions for seemingly insurmountable issues. For the past 6 years as CEO of Waites Ventures, she has utilized her knowledge and experience to assist small business owners create streamlined processes that allow them to spend more time doing what they love while increasing profits.
Learn more about Jenna: https://jennawaites.com/jennas-story/