Most business owners start their businesses with a good amount of confidence. They think they have something special to offer the world, and believe people should pay top dollar for it.
And then reality hits. They’re not seeing the profit they had hoped for, the staff isn’t productive as they should be, and new business is trickling in – not pouring in the way they once envisioned it.
The confidence is gone … and this is when things can go haywire. For example, a business owner, looking for a quick fix, decides to offer discounted fees as a way to bring in new business quickly. Success. He gets the new business and things are really moving. And when he has a free moment (because he’s working his tail off), he checks the books and realizes the business is even less profitable now. Insult to injury, he goes to raise the fees for clients who received the promotional rate, and those clients say, “See ya!”
Then he tries to go out and network … but he doesn’t follow up with the prospects that showed an interest in his business. Why? He doesn’t know. But, he knows he’s too busy. And, so much of what he is doing isn’t why he started the business and, it’s not what he wants to be doing. HR. Bookkeeping. IT. All need attention and take time. And, these aren’t things he’s necessarily good at, so this further drains his confidence.
How does a business owner go from thinking his company is the best to thinking that maybe his company doesn’t have anything to offer people? Very easily. In fact, it happens a lot. Business owners have a lot on their shoulders, making it easy to get discouraged at times. But when it goes a step further and the confidence they started the business with is gone … there’s trouble ahead.
There are four areas that you can focus on that will increase the confidence you have in your business, even when things don’t go exactly the way you envision. They are:
- Knowing what business you’re in. When you stay true to the business you’re in, you won’t get distracted by other things. Knowing “who you are” will give you vision and enable you to say yes to the right things and no to the wrong things. Outsource areas that are not core to your business. Not a numbers person? Hire a bookkeeper. Don’t like details? Find an administrative assistant or virtual assistant. There are cost-effective ways to hire someone to do anything. The price – in terms of your time, effectiveness and confidence – is much higher than the actual dollar figure of paying someone (who is good at it and will give you confidence to move on to other things) to do it.
- Establishing goals and making a plan to reach them. When you determine key quarterly and yearly business initiatives to accomplish, and set and follow a plan to achieve them, nothing will get in your way. For instance, “more business development” isn’t a goal. “Close four new clients each quarter” is a goal, and the action steps you take to reach your goal is a plan. Be realistic when you set your goals. And, don’t try to tackle your whole list each quarter – determine what is key each quarter, knock it out and move on to the next thing.
- Hiring well and then managing those people well. Your business can’t grow if every decision in your business has to flow through you. By establishing clear job descriptions and conducting regular performance reviews, you will feel confident in your staff’s ability, which as any business owner knows, is crucial to your business’ success. If you have the confidence that your staff members know what their jobs are, know what is expected, and follow through – you will have the confidence to sell more and focus on what you the business owner should do. Find some people who can bring in some good ideas, then do what they tell you to do!
- Keeping a pulse on the business with key indicators. In the beginning, you grew and managed the business by instinct. And, your instinct is still good, but, sometimes you wonder. When you quantify and set up regular reports on these numbers, such as sales, pipeline, expenses, capacity, etc., your won’t have to worry about what is happening behind the scenes. You will have the data you need to be confident about the health and direction of your company, and know that you’ll be able to intervene when warranted, and possibly divert a potential crisis.
In our country today, there is a lot of uncertainty, and uncertainty also causes us to lose our confidence. Just like it might be hard for you to make major decisions, it is hard for your clients to make major decisions. This is a time to look inside the business and get back to the proven basics so that you know you and your business are standing on a firm foundation.
Now, let’s say you focus on those four areas and your confidence is back. You would never discount because you would know you offer a great value for the fees you charge. You wouldn’t tolerate less than the best from your staff because you would feel that you and your clients deserve the best. You would have fewer financial crises because you would be able to nip it in the bud as soon as you saw your indicators go down. Confidence. You get the idea.
Photo credit: Frederick Homes for Sale