4 Things That Lead to Business Failure

As small business owners we are always wearing more than one hat in our business. Doing everything ourselves is possible but not optimal, especially if you are trying to grow a business. What I want to focus on today are four things, including doing everything yourself, that will lead to business failure if you don’t have a strategy to integrate them into your business growth plan.

1. You Are the Olympian

If we look at a person that has made it to the Olympics it is important to understand how they have become so successful. They spend an average of 8 hours a day, seven days a week focused on their physical being, including their diet, exercise and their practice. It takes focus just to manage their caloric intake to ensure they stay healthy while they push their bodies to the extreme edge of endurance and performance. They are not booking their sponsorships, they are not calling to get PR, they are not scheduling their meets and competitions, they are not doing it all. To be the best you need to focus on your core skills and your passion and let others do what you don’t do best.

If you are trying to grow your business, be the best at what you do and continue to do everything yourself you will ultimately fail at the business growth. If you are saying things like:

  • I feel like I’m always standing on the edge of something great but it never seems to happen
  • I want to do that but I have to wait until I can afford to hire more people
  • I have not been able to find someone that does what I do

then, you will be sitting on that edge for a long time. You cannot move forward without first having a plan for offloading the work that is not you Ultimate Role.

To be the Olympian in your business you must first identify what that Ultimate Role is for you. You may not be able to let go of many of the other hats you wear right away, but knowing what hat you plan on keeping when you finally get to that level of success will help you strategize so you can persevere through the times that will drain and overwhelm you.

2. Trade Dollars-for-Hours into Leverage

time is money

When we are the ones doing all the work in our business than our business is billing only for our time. If you are not billing for any other employees or contractors then you are trading your time for dollars, as you did as an employee. When you run out of time to do the work for your clients then you run out of room to growth. You must create a leverage plan to allow your business to make money from other peoples’ work.

When you think, ‘No one does it as good as I do’ you are stopping your business from taking on another person to relieve you from doing all the work and growing your business. No one will do it the same way, but I bet there is someone that can do it as well as or even better than you, but it may take some time to get them up to speed.

For example; in my first business Clear Comm Information Design, I would not hire technical writers because they knew how to write, I would hire engineers that knew the science of what we had to learn and had a drive to write and a passion to learn. I could teach them any software, the standards of technical writing, or anything else I have learned over the years, and what I found was I kept getting people that were better and more devoted to writing then I was. The quality of my businesses service went up and I did less of the actual work.

Invest in your business and hire someone to do what you do, charge what you normally charge your clients and pay your employees/contractors less. When you realize that you are making tens or hundreds of dollars per hour more and you are not doing any of the work, it will free you to let go of more in your work so you can get to your Ultimate Role.

3. No Growth Focus = Decline

You may have heard the saying “Do what you’ve always done and you will get what you have always had”. I don’t believe this is true any longer. With the accelerated change of almost everything we know in our world it is insane to think that we can continue to do the same thing over and over and continue to get the same outcome. Changes in technology, ideology, the economy, sociolgoy, borders, acceptable behavior, knowledge level, climate, global interaction, community, etc. affect your business. A business that operates like it did 10 years ago is missing some key connections and opportunities which will eventually cause the business to fail.

For example, there is a wonderful Toronto clothing designer that makes incredible women’s professional clothing line. For years they have been able to sell just by inviting people to a home to see the line. I would tell my friend she had a new line and they would book time to come. Now, we cherish our personal time so dearly that we don’t do things without first knowing if it will be worth our while. Because this designer does not have a website, does not post any of their past or current designs, does not have any online presence (at all – they don’t exist online), I cannot get anyone to make time, even those people that have been before and know the quality.

You don’t have to be an expert a Twitter, but you do have to know if your clients are on Twitter and that takes an intentional desire to look for opportunities for change. If you are not growing your business you are in decline, because you cannot do what you have always done and expect the same level of success.

4. Think Bigger

The challenge with growth is that we often only plan to get to the next step. Instead you need to think BIG, I mean really BIG. This is difficult for some because we have been taught “be careful what you wish for because you might get it.” If thinking bigger than you have ever wanted to grow a business scares you then you are on the right path. Just because you know what it takes to make it really big does not mean you have to build it. Understanding what it takes to get to one level above you ultimate business size will allow you to grow to that size without fear of loosing a client.

I you have ever heard someone say, “I can’t take any more clients, I’m so busy” that means they are now at capacity and they have no systems in place to handle any more clients. If you want to stay at a certain size, you cannot get to the closes level and stop taking clients for fear of going past the limit, you must know what it takes to grow beyond it to simple manage the fluctuation of intake at that level.

Plan a business about 5 to 10 times bigger than you expect to grow and know what it takes to run that larger business. How many people will you need, how many clients can you handle, what kind of costs will be involved, what resources and investment will be required, what infrastructure will be needed, etc. If you can answer this for the bigger business, you can easily do it for your ultimate business level.

Be brave, think BIG!

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