I watch a lot of people struggle with their business, as I did before I discovered the power of planning.
They struggle with keeping their heads above water, with knowing what step to take next and how to gain more success for their business.
The truth is they feel so overwhelmed that quite often they give up at the next biggest hurdle, rather than really dealing with an underlying issue and moving forward.
Worse than that, some choose the ‘band aid’ option which never, ever works long term.
Now of course some businesses will naturally fail, because they don’t have a product that people need and they haven’t tested the sustainability of the finances behind those products and their business model.
There are however a whole host of businesses that fail because of mind-set and lack of planning.
I see countless talent go to waste this way and businesses closed that should have been phenomenal.
This is why I started My Indie Life Blog and launched my SMASH Your Goals course, to help give you focus and renewed energy to push your business forward using the right mind-set.
So what are these particular failing businesses doing so wrong?
It is my honest opinion that business owners in this situation can often be found running their business like an employee.
They concentrate only on their daily task list and never take a step back to look at the bigger picture and plan for it.
This is where they get overwhelmed and problems happen, like; financial mistakes, missed marketing opportunities and huge task lists that never get done.
The band aid solution
If they don’t get so frustrated that they give up, then some businesses try ‘band aid’ solutions.
Band aid solutions are what we perceive as a quick fire solution to a problem. These types of solutions only really deal with surface issues, rather than the problem at large.
For example; someone wanting more sales, decides after reading a blog post titled, ‘I increased my sales by 500% in 10 days using Facebook’ that they are going to quickly scan the blog post, start a Facebook account for their business and implement this amazing process.
‘After all if it worked so well for someone else it’ll work for me, right?’
They pour their energy into Facebook for the next few weeks implementing the process as they understand it, only to realise that it simply isn’t converting into the extra sales, as they had hoped.
They chalk it up to bad advice and move on to a new blog post they read about Pinterest.
Aside from the fact that they may have missed why it worked for the author of the blog post and the author’s unique situation, what they haven’t done is ask themselves the biggest question of their business, ‘Why am I not getting more sales?’
This question is fully loaded with possible answers and requires some serious thought. There is no band aid solution that will fit the specific problem here!
They really need to break that big question down into smaller questions;
- Is my website clear on what I sell?
- Is my website optimised for selling on mobile devices, as well as desktop?
- Is the user experience simple and clear?
- Do I have up-to-date terms?
- Am I using a safe way to process their payments?
- Do I have a newsletter? Is that newsletter converting? If not, why not?
- Are my prices competitive?
- Is my product quality good enough?
- What is my customer service like?
- Have I been marketing my products online successfully?
- Am I using my social media to search for potential customers? Am I engaging with my followers? Am I showing them that I have products that answer their problem?
- Have I asked my current customers what they are buying now? And what they think of my product?
I could go on.
The point is that the initial problem ‘Why I am I not getting more sales’ is not a simple question to answer and therefore can’t be answered with a simple solution (or a band-aid). So to really fix the issue they need to take some time to research their problems and specific answers using their own business data.
So these businesses that are band-aiding their problems are really saying that their head is stuck beneath the parapet and they know that they have an issue to deal with, but haven’t found the urgency in the problem to step back and look at it closely.
This requires a change in mind-set if they want to turn their business fortunes around.
The defeatist attitude
This is unfortunately a very real problem for some entrepreneurs; they suffer with a defeatist attitude.
Take our example of someone wanting more sales. Let’s spin a defeatist attitude on the issue… what they might say in this situation is, ‘I’m just not selling.’
What happens next is that this negative mind-set crawls in and takes root somewhere deep.
They don’t look at the bigger picture.
Instead these talented creatives feel the fear that they are not selling, because they simply aren’t good enough at what they do.
It totally overruns their mind and they slowly, subconsciously switch off.
You can see it in their eyes, or written in their social updates.
As their business fails, they feel that they were right all along to consider closing their business.
What they might have noticed if they had taken a step back and looked at the bigger picture is that they might not be selling because;
- Their pricing is not competitive
- They are missing a new industry trend
- Their website isn’t easy to find, or to use
- They lacking a good marketing message
And so on.
Now while a defeatist mind might tell me here that these are all just more problems to add to the list, what they are missing is that these problems are all much more specific and therefore easier to address and plan answers for.
No-one gets everything right, no business is problem free. You will find that all businesses are works-in-progress and those who have what you perceive as more success, have planned for it. They always have the bigger picture in mind!
So where does this employee mid-set come from?
For most of us, the reality is that we came from jobs where we were employed by someone else.
That someone else did all of the planning and ‘bigger picture’ thinking to drive the business forward. They created forward action by delegating tasks to their employees on a daily, or weekly basis in a logical way.
We were not required to think bigger than the tasks set (although initiative was most probably welcomed). So quite naturally we did only what was asked of us; to concentrate on the daily tasks.
We accepted the employee mind-set.
Adopting this mind-set is perfectly natural when working for someone else, but not transferable when we start our own business. Yet for some reason we continue in this fashion, I guess out of familiarity.
The truth is though, that our business success demands we start with a very different mind-set. The mind-set of the Boss and those who have found success in what they do, will have consciously slipped into this new pattern of thinking early on.
The Boss Mind-set
To be the boss of your new business you need to start thinking like you own the business. It really isn’t any harder than that.
You need to;
- Look at the bigger picture on a regular basis
- Plan goals to move the business forward
- Schedule projects and tasks in a logical way
- Plan finances
- Plan marketing
- Plan production
- Review and adapt plans, projects and tasks
I could go on… but do you see a pattern?
At every stage I have mentioned, or inferred to planning.
The boss of the business doesn’t get their hands dirty on every task, instead they manage it. Part of managing well is planning well.
Why planning works.
Planning gives you an element of control, quite simply.
By having a controlling hand on your business you are more likely to spot mistakes before they happen, foresee times when workloads will be harder and create the right actions for success at the right time.
Planning does take time, but trust me when I tell you that it is time well spent and that it is long-term time saved.
Remember that band-aid happy business that launched into Facebook business pages? By wasting two weeks on this quick fire solution they probably didn’t get more sales. Instead they created more work and more of a mess to clear up.
If they had employed a plan to generate more sales based on answering the important questions of their business (like those I outlined), then they wouldn’t have wasted two weeks of hard work and created another social channel to up-keep. Instead they would have logically worked away on all of the aspects of their business and product that they felt they needed to adapt. This would have put them in a much better position to get more sales and saved two weeks of wrong placed effort.
So start thinking like the Boss of your business and plan!
It’s not to say that you won’t ever need to wear your employee’s hat again, particularly if you have no employees.
You will always need to wear that old hat. It is the hat that gets everything done on the day-to-day.
But what really helps you get things done in a way that is not overwhelming and dare I say it motivational, is knowing that you came to this task from a Boss’ perspective and so you know that you are doing the right task, on the right day to move your business forward.