Without a doubt, small business owners are some of the strongest, most resilient, and most resourceful individuals I know. Who else do you know that has a dream, sets out to make that dream a reality, and works at it day in and day out without fail. And sometimes without seeing the rewards of their efforts. They battle the ups and downs of owning their own business, endure the daily stresses of generating new clients, keeping the clients they have, managing employees, putting out fires, and operating all the details of their business. I’m exhausted just writing all that. But they do it again and again, day after day. Did I mention they were hard working?
Do you hear me?!? I’m talking to you! You are strong. You are resilient. You are resourceful. Yes, owning your own business can be difficult. There are certainly going to be challenges. And right now, there is a lot of information indicating that 2017 is going to be a year of struggle for so many business owners. But instead of accepting those challenges as simply part of “doing business”, let’s take a look at the things you can do to eliminate or at the very least minimize those challenges and the impacts to your business.
As you read this I want you to remember two important things:
- You were not meant to struggle in business.
- Your business is designed to support your life, not consume it.
Business owners are expected to encounter some serious challenges in 2017 including time, profitability, fatigue, owner dependence and loss of existing customers. And here is the sad thing, these challenges are not unique to 2017. In fact, for so many business owners 2017 will be no different than 2016, which was no different than 2015, which was no different than 2014. You get my point.
The struggle is absolutely real. You feel it every single day in your business.
- There never seems to be enough time to get it all done. You work too many hours and when you are not working you are thinking (i.e. worrying) about your business. This often leads to dissatisfaction in other areas of your life as the stress and anxiety spills over.
- You experience fatigue from the constant levels of energy you need to expend just to make your business function the way you want it to. You are wearing too many hats and juggling too many balls. The physical fatigue affects your health, your stamina, and your attitude. The mental fatigue drains you and has you feeling hopeless, helpless, and wondering if the constant working and worrying is what owning your own business is all about.
- There is such a focus on generating new customers that somehow your existing customers are innocently pushed to the side. Wait, wasn’t it Bob’s responsibility follow up with existing clients?
- Lack of returning clients often leads to stress and anxiety and results in more time, energy, and effort to produce more new clients.
- All of this leads to profits that are unpredictable. As you can imagine, this can cause stress, overwhelm, working more/harder to “make things happen” and perpetuates the vicious cycle.
- And the icing on the cake … Your business doesn’t work unless you are there making it work. Even if you have employees, you still are the one pushing to ensure the survival of your business. What about time for you? For your family? Vacation? A sick day, for crying out loud?!?
I say all this to you not from someone looking in but from someone who was there for many, many years. I won’t bore you with all the details of my story because the truth is that in all likelihood it is your story.
My husband and I started a business with the dream of serving our community, fulfilling a passion, and in doing that, creating a certain level of freedom for ourselves.
What we quickly found was a business that owned us.
A business that only worked when we were there working it every single day. A business that was unpredictable on so many levels including clients generated, clients sustained, profits, employee turnover, you name it.
There never seemed to be enough time to get it all done.
We were stressed, overwhelmed, and overworked.
Many of times we asked ourselves if this was it. Was this seriously what owning our own business was like.
And worse, was this the legacy we were going to leave our son.
Business wasn’t supposed to be this unpredictable, was it?
There had to be more.
And luckily, there was for us and there is for you too.
Enough about the challenges. You don’t need me to tell you there are challenges. You know them. You feel them. You live them every single day to one degree or another.
Let’s talk about the solution.
The good news is that the challenges projected for 2017 are all a by product of some very common mistakes made in business, and thus, completely fixable.
Take a minute and let that really sink in. 2017 does not have to be a year of struggle for you. You can choose a different outcome.
There are three main reasons for the struggle:
- Your business is unpredictable.
- Your business is not reproducible.
- Your business is dependent on you (or one or two key employees).
But what would your life and your business look like if:
- Your business could function without your constant involvement. Would that alleviate some stress, fatigue.
- You didn’t have to work as hard and still experienced growth in your business.
- Your business survival didn’t depend on you working yourself to the bone to make that happen.
- You had employees who had clear and consistent expectations and could complete tasks without your constant involvement.
- You and your employees performed tasks the same way each time, regardless of stress, time, experience, or direction of the wind.
- Customers received the same experience no matter where they were in your business or who they interacted with.
- Generating new clients was a seamless activity in your business and as natural as answering the telephone.
- Keeping existing clients was just as seamless and natural.
- Your business was predictable in the results it produced.
I’m excited for you just thinking of the possibilities!
I bet you’re wondering what could help you create all this.
I’m hesitant to tell you because it is so simple that you are likely to dismiss it. It is not a magic pill, potion, or “the next best social media tool”. It is simply this:
- Create a business that is predictable.
- Create a business that is reproducible
- Create a business that can function with or without you.
My prediction for 2017: It’s going to be your best year yet! Do something different. Be predictable. 🙂