By Rhonda Campbell
Owning and managing a business is not a task for the faint at heart. There are cash flow and sales cycles to contend with. Stay in business for any length of time and you’ll probably also find yourself having to chase customers down to collect money on their overdue bills.
Oh, the joys of owning and managing a small business. . . .
What Owning a Successful Small Business Requires
There’s a television show that reminds me of some of the challenges inherit in owning a business. The name of the show? Restaurant Impossible.
It can get painful watching Robert Irvine, the host of Restaurant Impossible, ask owners of failing restaurants why they went into the restaurant business. More times than one might imagine the befuddled restaurant owners say they thought it was a good way to turn a profit. A few had never owned or managed a restaurant before they plopped down $100,000 or more on their business.
But that’s not all. Too many of the restaurant owners also defend their food, some even defend their service, when challenged, this in the face of the fact that their customer sales have slipped to abysmal levels.
As I watch the restaurant owners defend their food and service I’m reminded of how tough it is to own and operate a successful business (heck – it’s tough to operate a failing business). . . doesn’t matter which industry the business is in. A key reason for the difficulty is the fact that owning a successful business requires personal honesty, continuous measuring of return on investment (ROI) and ongoing customer gut checks.
Owning a successful business also requires openness to change (to the point where you celebrate change and newness), resilience and intelligent persistence (no sense in being persistent about something you should have stopped doing a year ago).
When Owning a Small Business Feels Too Hard
But what happens when owning a small business feels too hard, much harder than it felt when you worked for someone else? It’s during these times that you have to remind yourself why you started your business to begin with. Perhaps you started your business to build a company you could pass down to your adult offspring. Perhaps you started your business to have the freedom to stay at home with your growing children. Then again, you might have started your small business because you received inner guidance or inner promptings to do so.
If the reason you started your business is compelling enough to you consider staying the course. The tide might, unexpectedly, turn in your favor. If your business is reporting consistent losses month after month, consider working with someone who is winning at what you’re trying to do, someone who will work closely with you to help you spot weaknesses in your business operations, management style, etc. Be willing to listen to guidance and advice you receive.
Also survey your customers and find out what they like and don’t like about your business. Although it’s often stated, we business owners may forget that we are in business to give consumers what they want. We’re not in business to try to convince customers why they should absolutely love whatever we put in front of them.
In business the customer is always in the driver’s seat.
When owning a business feels too hard also consider talking with family and friends (folks you trust). Share your concerns with them and solicit their feedback. They just might see a solution to your problem that you missed.
Above all, check in with the inner you. Ask yourself for guidance. Be prepared to receive hunches and insights through dreams, conversations you engage in, things you see or overhear as you go about your day, etc. Pay attention to what jumps out at you as these might be clues, little bits of guidance telling you what to do next.
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