The dilemma some people find themselves in when they find they have a job I explored in the previous blog. If you don’t recognise this, it can lead to despair. And if you do recognise it, but don’t do something about it, you will be trapped, and in all likelihood, fail, with all its consequences.
One of the dangers of starting a business because you are good at doing something, is that you spend most of your time “doing”, as opposed to “managing”, as I discussed.
Some years ago I had a client who ran an IT company. He was the best tech in the business, and that was the problem; he felt he was the one who had to handle all the problems other techs were having difficulty with, instead of working “on the business”. He even wore tech clothing to work, to handle the jobs when he was called out.
It took two years to convince him to come dressed as a manager, not a tech. The success of the business was dramatic, and it was due to the change of attitude, nothing else. As a manager, he worked on the business.
The first imperative – know what business are you in. Get this question and you will head off in the wrong direction. You won’t be able to define your ideal customer, the one who is going to provide 80% of your sale, and your profits. And you won’t be able to craft the right message for them. You’ll continue to chase “everybody”, who’ll never make you happy.
You won’t have a business, and you won’t have a business working for you, if you don’t have a clear idea of where you’re going, if you don’t know what you want the business to achieve for you.
It’s no surprise that lack of direction has been recognised as a problem for a long time, two thousand years in fact. The following quote has been attributed to Seneca, a 1st Century Spanish-born Roman Statesman and philosopher 'If a man does not know what port he is steering for, no wind is favourable to him.'
Even Alice in Wonderland had something to say:
Lost in Wonderland, Alice asked the Cheshire Cat: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
"I don’t much care where,” said Alice.
Said the Cat: “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go."
Or as marketing guru Dan Kennedy says “You can eventually get south by going due north, but life is a lot easier and less stressful, and business more profitable,it you actually get headed in the direction that leads to your destination of choice”.
So, start with the end in mind. In an ideal world what do you want from your business now, and what do you want from your business in say 5 years’ time? Until you can clearly state that you’ll just have a job, working for your business.
What has your business got to be like to give you that result? Can you describe it? Picture all the elements, not just the bits you enjoy doing, but all the others.
Now, what has to change in your business to achieve that state? A lot no doubt!
If you are just in a job, you’re not in business. You are working for the business and the business is not working for you.
Think of your business as a series of connected processes:
You have to find customers. Without customers you haven’t got a business. Who is better placed than you for that role. As business owner or manager more than anyone else in the business you have to know and understand your customers. You must have a repeatable process to win a continuous stream of customers.
Then the usiness has to do what it does to meet their needs, whether you are in retail, in services, repairs and maintenance, manufacturing or whatever. If you are working for the business this is what you do, as a provider or doer. Is what the business does solely dependent on you? If so, you are really working for the business.
You have to deliver the customer’s requirement to them. In retail this is just over the counter, but for others it may require on-site installation or delivery over a long distance. And on-going support may be required.
These are all what we call “business processes” – finding customers => doing/providing => delivering.
That may have kept the customer happy, but there are a number of other support processes that have to go on that enable you to deliver those ‘business processes’ efficiently and effectively.
Processes or functions such as:
• Finance and accounting
• Hiring, firing, HR, work safety
• General administration
If you are in business, and the business is working for you, then you will have systems and procedures that ensure both your business and support process work well.
If you are working for the business, you won’t have an end in mind, and the chances are you will have few systems and procedures in your business - I mean documented systems and procedures that minimise mistakes and errors. If not, life will seem like a never ending treadmill, off which you cannot get.
You will be in a job, not in business. And only one person can change that.
But we can help.
If you have some of those dark recesses in your business, if you are floundering in a lack of light and seek illumination the end of the year has come and gone and 2016 is upon us. I have only three spaces left for a business assessment this month. If you would like to avail yourself of one, and there is no cost – this is my gift to you, book a Strategy Consult here.
© Copyright 2016 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective
Some profit losses are pretty obvious - so you fix them.
BUT, what if you don't know profits are leaking, cash out the door?
Possible leaks could be anywhere.
Are there some clues or symptoms that are tell-tales?