For those of us who have chosen to have our own businesses, the reasons for doing so are probably varied. The decision could have been initiated by the desire to call your own shots, have control over your own destiny or simply have time to do the things that a conventional job would not allow. Regardless of the reason, it was clear that owning your own business was preferable to working for someone else.
Today, more than any time in recent history, thousands of people are starting their own businesses. It’s no coincidence that corporate American is laying off or eliminating positions in record numbers as well. So the need (desired or by necessity) to venture out and do your own thing is on an upswing right now. What’s also on an upswing is the number of existing small business owners that would trade their businesses for a job that pays better.
A recent study released by Discover Small Business Watch (as published in the Orange County Register- June 29, 2009) sites a disturbing trend. Some 36% of small business owners would close their companies if they could find a better paying job working for someone else. This percentage is up from 30% last year. Clearly, the challenge of growing a business today is taking its toll on the minds and bank accounts of small business owners everywhere. How could an entrepreneur, filled with a passion for making it on his/her own terms and a vision of doing something meaningful, come to the point of scrapping their dream in favor of a regular job?
The answer may lie in the mindset of the owner and their feeling of not being able to achieve what they thought was possible so many years ago. The economic environment is making it tough on all small businesses to grow or even just stay afloat. Still, there are businesses in every category that are doing well. Why do some small business owners do well in turbulent times while others seem to falter or close all together? The economy is not responsible for any single business succeeding or failing. It simply writes the rules for how we all must operate to achieve a successful outcome.
Having a successful business mindset requires being very clear about your vision. What exactly are you in business for. ‘Making money’ is too general to enable you to stay focused on the particular path you took. Why did you decide on (this) business and what do you expect from it once success is achieved. From there, understanding what makes you unique and why your customers decided to do business with you is the next area of examination. Without a completely clear understanding of these areas, any marketing strategy will produce random results at best. And if you think repeating last year’s program will suffice, forget it! The market has changed way too much for that.
The biggest single threat to a successful business mindset is ‘not knowing’ what to do or how to implement it. Thoughts of uncertainty about your plan or your ability to execute will only increase feelings of frustration, overwhelm and eventually the desire to give up. The best way to combat this cycle of self-limiting thought is to get help. Whether you decide to elicit the input of a trusted small business advisor or a professional small business coach, having an objective viewpoint to keep you on the right track will do wonders for your focus and your commitment to building the business you want. Deciding to get help is a personal choice and should be considered carefully.
The type of business you have as well as the severity of your situation will determine what type of help you need. Here are a few things to consider before hiring a small business coach or advisor:
1. What is their area of expertise? Are they geared towards organizational, financial, marketing or HR improvements? It makes no sense having someone who specializes in employee training if the problem is revenue and customer growth.
2. Do they provide a tested system that will introduce new learning and tactics to resolve the problems you face? Are you getting help that will translate in to a predictable outcome or are you testing someone else’s theory.
3. Do they have resources beyond their own experience that can add addition support to your efforts? Knowing that your coach or adviser has resources that he/she can draw on (and you as well) when needed, allows you to have access to many experts as opposed to just one individual.
4. Is their involvement (coaching or advising) designed to get maximum results for you and your particular business? Can their approach be customized or scheduled in such a fashion that works for you or are you stepping into a ‘machine’ that only works one way regardless of who it’s working on?
5. Are you comfortable with the relationship you’re about to step into? Regardless of the expertise or industry discipline, it all comes down to the relationship. Trust and integrity must exist before you put your business’s future in the hands of someone in this role.
Running a business is not for the faint of heart and takes real commitment to reach short and long term success. If your dream business was good enough for you to put your money, time and emotional energy into, it should be good enough to save when the water gets rough. Before you decide to ‘bag it’ for a paycheck with someone else, invest in yourself- get help to learn what you don’t know and implement what you’ve not done. You might be surprised at how fast the results come and the vision returns.