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The Team at NOW bring you topics of interest to owners of small businesses. Please feel free to leave a comment or let us know if there are particular topics you'd like us to cover.

Lies Small Business Owners Tell Themselves

The Team - Wednesday, May 05, 2010

They're not really lies, they are the stories we all tell ourselves from time to time which stop us breaking old habits and developing a truly successful independent business:

1.  "Once I've got over this busy period I'm going to have a serious look at where my business is going."

The mountain of work rarely goes away and so much of a small business owner's week is spent fighting unanticipated fires.

Can you really remember a time recently when you paused to sit and seriously think about:

a) where your business is going; and

b) whether things could be arranged more efficiently?

Success follows business owners who have realised that effective planning and designing great systems gives them the opportunity to work on the business rather than in the business.

 

2. "I can't get good staff."
For many businesses finding, retaining and managing quality staff is one of the most significant potential restrictions on growth and success.

Firstly, you need to pay for quality. Assess the nature of the job you are offering, is it boring and repetitive, or is there scope for an employee with skill and brains to show initiative? If you want initiative and brains, you are going to have to compete sensibly with other businesses that are offering more money.

Have you got more to offer than high wages? Access to transport, free parking, a friendly work environment, proper tools for the job, a career path - all these things may persuade a prospective employee that money's not everything.

Secondly, train them, train them again and never stop training them. Make sure they understand your business, how you want them to treat fellow employees and customers, and how the job is to be carried out. A written job duty description is a minimum.

Thirdly, never stop communicating. Make sure they understand your business values and culture.  Give your employees regular feedback and listen to their complaints and suggestions.

Finally, finding experienced staff can be an expensive nightmare and sometimes you need to re-assess your requirements and find a keen talented junior that you can train, coach and mentor.

 

3. "I'd be able to do a lot more work if I didn't keep getting interrupted by the phone ringing every couple of minutes!"
We hear this one quite often and we wonder how business owners would feel if the phone stopped ringing.

Hopefully those calls are from customers wanting to place orders, invariably they are customer complaints and queries!

If you are getting repetitive complaints or requests for information that "only you" can handle then you need to look at your business systems and processes - and your ability to delegate.

It's a great idea to keep a log of incoming calls over a couple of days and analyse the complaints and queries. You may find that you can make changes to your systems and eliminate the causes for many of these calls and free up time for yourself to work on your business.

If you have a high number of calls from customers asking repetitive questions, why not have a look at your product documentation or your website? The FAQ (frequently asked questions) page on your website, if properly set up, can sit there and answer customer queries all day every day - and after hours.

"Lies" are the repetitive behaviours that stop us having a great small business. Sometimes we need to give these sacred cows a prod and see whether there really is any truth in them or whether they just serve to keep us in our comfort zones.

 

4. All this talk about vision, mission, values and planning - that's just for big business.

In fact, it is so much more important for the operators of small business to get this right.  When you went into your business you had a vision.  It may have been forgotten or become blurred over time.  However, unless you really have a vision; a truly meaningful aspiration for what you want out of the business then it ceases to be your business – it becomes a job, albeit one with longer hours and less money than the equivalent role in big business!



Keeping an eye on the main game and planning accordingly is what distinguished successful small business owners from the also-rans. 

Having a clear vision and a proper plan feed your motivation and lack of motivation is one of the major reasons small businesses fail to prosper.

Think about how energetic, creative and productive you can be when you're motivated. Re-kindling the inspirational spark that you had when you first went into business could transform you and your business.

So when are you going to make a start?



Comments
Rhys Nagas commented on 07-Jul-2010 01:07 PM
All to true From Good staff to "Interruptions" Yeh turn the phone off if younhave to mute it Forward calls to message bank with a informative message advertising or marketing your need for quality staff use your answering machine to market your business and get a bit of work one at the same time Provide an email adress to leave their details and you'll get back to them........... I love your suggestions their excellent

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Planning for more fun, cash, time and success

The Team - Monday, April 05, 2010
As the owner of a small to medium business, you may have heard it before – construct a Business Plan.

But you know where you’re going – right?  You know what you have to do – right?  Sitting down and writing out what’s in your head is boring – right?

A Business Plan is the most important tool you will ever develop for your business.  It’s not boring because it is the way for you to have more fun, more cash, more time and more success.

Let me deal with three myths around Business Plans:

1.   I already know my path to the future
Your human mind has a habit of agreeing with you.  When you don’t write down and share your plan, when you don’t do what you ‘thought’ you were going to do, your brain tells you that’s OK because you weren’t really going to do that yet.  

The result is often procrastination and non-achievement.

2.   I want to be able to follow opportunities
Think of a Business Plan as the route for a journey given what we know before we start.

Let’s take our own boat to Bali (not as hard as running your own business).  You know where you want to go, you know where you are now and you will think about the route for the journey.  You will include issues such as how far from a coastline will you travel, what are the hazards, where will you refuel, what permits are required.

Then, along the way, you decide that a couple of days in Broome would be great.  That’s OK – just check the change against the plan.  Will I accept a shorter stay in Bali?  Can I change my refuelling plan?  Are my permits still OK?  If everything checks out then go ahead – have more fun, cash, time and success.

3.   Business Plans just gather dust
Yes – many do.

At NOW Business Mastery, the difference is that we add N-Gauge that prompts you periodically (choose weekly / monthly / quarterly) for feedback against your plan.  Using N-Gauge, your Business Plan becomes your process of managing your business.

As an essential management tool, the Business Plan becomes a living, working pathway.  No dust, just more fun, cash, time and success.


So get out your pad of paper (or clear your computer screen) and start by:
- Capturing your Aspiration;
- Determining where you are now; and
- Constructing (in writing) the planned route for your business journey.

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