Starting a business is hard. Sustaining a business is even harder. And growing a business is hardest of all.
There are so many ways that even the best-conceived businesses can go astray once they open the doors. What seemed like a well-organized business plan in theory can wash away in a flood of day-to-day details. How can you avoid drowning?
It's Your Responsibility
When businesses fail, it's usually because key people lose sight of what's important. This insidious affliction starts when those at the top try to do too many things themselves.
Many small-business owners think they have no choice but to wear every hat. Those same owners also complain they have no time to devote to business development because the day-to-day stuff is all-consuming.
Guess what? If you find yourself in that situation, your problem isn't a lack of time — it's an inability to prioritize. Step back and be honest with yourself. Yes, you're busy, possibly to the point where you're approaching burnout. Feeling busy, however, doesn't mean you're being effective. Having a long to-do list might make you feel important, but many of the things on that list probably aren't the best things to be spending your time on.
Remember What Really Matters
As the leader of your company, your job is to increase awareness of your brand and build your business. Nobody else can do that as well as you can. That's why you stepped up and started the business in the first place.
Since you alone had the vision, you should delegate everything involving the basic functioning of the business to other people. That will free up your time to make that original vision a reality. And if you don't have enough employees to which to delegate those responsibilities, then find a way to outsource those responsibilities.
It's vital that you learn to hand off not just lower-level tasks but also lower-level decision-making. If you get in the trap of feeling important because you're the bottleneck for all decisions, you're building inefficiencies into your strategy that will hamper every single aspect of the company. That's completely counterproductive.
The more day-to-day stuff you outsource, the freer you'll be to concentrate on the kind of big-picture planning needed for genuine success, not just survival. You'll be amazed at the positive impact that results when you empower others to solve problems for you.
Words to Live By
"Organizing your mind is the single most important thing you can do." That's one of the key takeaways from my book, Think Like a Mind Reader: Improve your business, strengthen your relationships and solve your problems.
The first step in organizing your mind is to ask yourself a simple question: "What's important to me?"
The trick is to key in on what genuinely is important to you, not just what people have convinced you should be important to you. That's where a lot of business owners get off track. They train themselves to become proficient in many aspects of the business that they have little aptitude for, and even less interest in. (It's a long list that can include everything from IT troubleshooting to building maintenance to bookkeeping.) And they become jacks of all these trades — or at least try to —simply because they've been led to believe it's the responsible thing to do.
That's nonsense. With that in mind, let me leave you with some words of wisdom that my dad once shared with me: "Be careful what you get good at — because that's what you'll wind up doing."Jonathan Pritchard is a mentalist, comedian, author and keynote speaker. He spoke at the recent Business Fundamentals Bootcamp hosted by Supporting Strategies | Chicago Far West Suburbs.