I’ve worked with enough business owners and executives throughout the years to know if their employees weren’t pulling their weight, they would hear about it – right then and there. Realizing that, why don’t we hold ourselves accountable to that same standard?
Lately, I’ve heard far too many doom and gloom stories from all walks of life – including business owners – they seem to have lost their passion and spirit. Instead, they cling to the hope of riding out the economic downturn. I’m here to tell you to take a bit of your own medicine and move on.
I empathize with you, given the economic downturn. It’s real and painful. I don’t empathize with the now common response – there’s nothing we can do! Allow me to share several myths and realities. Hearing those, you will hopefully regain your spirit, passion and commitment. Running a business has its moments, but we need to remember why we started and the joy we experienced as entrepreneurs when first launching our businesses.
My business is at the mercy of everyone else but me!
There is enough information and data to confirm that the country is in a recession, and many other forces are coming together to make this one of the toughest times for businesses in quite a while. What isn’t true is that your business is at the mercy of everyone else – bankers, customers, suppliers and the government. Make a list of the issues you are facing. Think about what actions you can take today and tomorrow to influence their impact on your business. There are more than you can imagine.
I’m stuck. I couldn’t prepare for this or fix it today!
Of all the myths, this one surprises me the most. We have all had our businesses long enough, or worked for others who have, to see that the economy has its ups and downs. Times were really good for an unusually long period of time. Did you think that times would stay robust forever? Stocks were overvalued. They adjusted. We have an ever valuable commodity called oil. Prices have now hit that magic price where people have changed their buying behavior. While we didn’t know when, what did you do to prepare and plan for the downturn? Did you set up a plan on how the company would tighten its belt? How did your management team decide to hold on to your best customers? What are you doing today to turn those discussions into decisions?
Bigger businesses have all the marketplace advantages!
Another surprising comment often heard is that we think the big companies get all the breaks. Scale and resources do make for great buying power, which translates into lower prices offered to customers. The other side of the coin is that these same companies have legacy and history that prevents them from adapting quickly to marketplace needs.
You are entrepreneurs who are able to make rapid and well thought out decisions. Your companies are much more nimble and responsive to the market changes. You have fewer people to convince of the change and much less capital investment holding you back. What really is holding you back from making the changes and decisions needed?
Things don’t get done if I’m not on call 24/7!
Too often, businesses formed with the current owner have a tough time breaking the mold of success. That mold looks something like this. Enterprising person has an idea and starts a company. Given relationships and their ideas, the business grows steadily, and adds both customers and employees. As a result, the enterprising person feels like the energy, blood, sweat and tears that they formed the company with, is what is needed to continue the growth.
Wrong. What will matter are the values and business relationships that have and will continue to drive the business forward. Everything else will change – economy, technology, business processes and people. So, hire really smart people, let them improve what you’ve started, trust them, and plan for your eventual exit from the business. Everyone will be better off, especially your customers.
When business goes south, everything is on my shoulders!
Pride is an unbelievable force in the life of an entrepreneur. It helps us to make deadlines, take calculated risks, trust others, and negotiate difficult decisions. Yet, like everything else, too much of a good thing is not always the best for any of us.
Take a good look at these myths. Even better, take time out of your routine to reflect on your business. Don’t get too busy that you never have time to step back to separate myth from reality.