Business owners often struggle with budget issues. In most of North America, businesses have the added challenge of dealing with seasonal changes that affect customer activity. Half of the year they are overburdened with work orders and no time to ‘run’ the business, while the other half of the year they sit quietly at their desk twirling a pencil, no customers and cashless, wondering how they could ever grow their business out of this conundrum.
A local contractor came to my home the other day for a small plumbing job, like many other experiences I’ve had with contractors, he was late for the appointment, and, in fact, was filling in for someone else who was suddenly put on a different job.
“We’re swamped!” he said. “Sorry, we didn’t get back to you, but I haven’t had a day off in three weeks.”
“Sounds like you have a pretty successful business, are you that busy all year?” I asked.
“Heck no! I’ll be lucky to get five customers from October to March. I should probably advertise, but I just don’t have the money.”
So there it is, the most common complaints by small business people; no time to give attention to the back office, no money to grow the business. The truth is, many small business owners are too busy driving their company into the ground rather than learning, testing, and investing in what works. Complaining about their current familiar predicament is much more comfortable than initiating a change. The good news is there are solutions. Here are just a few things you can do to keep yourself from wrecking your business.
Loosen Your Grip
Sooner or later you’re going to have to trust someone else to run your business. You might not want to admit it, but other people are capable of doing much of your job. Believe it or not, there are probably a few good people around you who are worthy of your trust. Mentor them, give them responsibility. You might be surprised at what respected employees can accomplish, and it will only help your business thrive.
Give Up the No-brainers
Why on Earth do you still have a land line? Why are you paying for premium print cartridges? In fact, if you’re not writing a sales letter, put your printer in draft mode and save even more on expensive printer ink. Why stop there? Millions of companies have given up paper and hard copy altogether. Start emailing invoices to your clients and save the paper and postage costs. Set up PayPal or some other mechanism to let customers pay their bills. Become your own efficiency expert. Remove the barriers to sales!
You hate it; I get it. Now it’s just one more thing you need to get over. You can’t run a competitive business today without technology. Get a smartphone. Start checking your emails, respond to them at least twice a day. Find out what Twitter is, and LinkedIn. Learn how to text. There’s a whole world of commerce going on all around you and if you don’t have a clue, well then, you just don’t.
If all of this seems daunting, consider getting help learning about new technologies that will give you more time. Remember this is your business and its 2017, not 1985. If you just can’t bring yourself to making the smallest changes in your attitude about technology, then get rid of it all together. Get rid of your email address. There’s no sense in giving potential customers the false hope that you’re interested in their business. The same goes for that 10-year-old website. If you can’t take it seriously, take it down. You just look silly.
You can analyze things to death, but while you’re doing that, your business is losing more market share, your company is losing competitive advantage. You continue to waste money on things that don’t work, and you’re losing the confidence of your employees. If this sounds depressing, maybe it’s time to turn things around. PTFT. Pull The Friggin Trigger and act!