When we have a great idea or something we are good at, it is easy to start a business but then what. So many business owners have a great service or a product, or are an expert at something. Running a business and being a business owner is a different skill set. That does not mean they cannot run a business though doing so takes self-awareness. What are my strengths, weaknesses, what don’t I know and what support do I need to make my good idea a successful business?
Over the years, I have seen many businesses succeed, and many businesses fail. I have learned from both. I am most impressed by those who fail unnecessarily.
Rosa owned a restaurant in Detroit. She is a great cook, a smart women and good to her staff, but she was not making money. Rosa did not know how to run a business. She never determined the cost of meals she served so was unsure if she was charging enough. Marketing was a mystery, so she relied on word of mouth and returning customers. She wanted families from the town to frequent her business. In reality, it was the construction workers and laborers that came daily. Speaking with Rosa, she said she was going to figure it out herself. In the end, she could not and closed her business in 2014.
Sara owns a promotional products company. Sara realized she did not know how to make her business successful. She is smart, capable, and an expert in the creative and technical aspects of her industry. We started coaching with the basics: values, vision and brand. This work inspired Sara and grounded the work she was doing. It gave her a clear perspective to talk to market to potential customers. Her revenue doubled each month for three months then Sara decided she knew what she was doing and took off on her own thinking that the foundation was clearly all she needed. There is so much more to business. I spoke with Sara almost a year from our last coaching session. Her business is failing. She found she did not know as much as she thought about running a business and was ready to learn more.
Frank has a wonderful new product that he is creating a business around. Everyone, who has tried his product, give it rave reviews. His market research and his passion for this new business are his strengths. He was on a roll, putting in place one aspect of the business then another until he hits a wall. Finances. Frank hates finances. He goes into fear and melts into a puddle of uncertainty. His business is ready to start production once he creates a real budget and determines how he is going to fund this start-up. Fear of finances is a major hurdle for many business owners. Frank’s business is on hold until he takes that step.
Dennis owns a company that sells blinds and curtains. He has done this for ten years. Dennis has a great reputation, and his customers love him. He is not making money. Dennis has run his business without a budget, financial reports, and determination of cost of goods sold and more. Dennis is acting as an installer not a business owner though his gross revenue was $1 mil. in 2014. His profit margin is small and has been for years. Dennis fears finances, so he just does what he enjoys which is working with customers and avoids the finances of his business, and it is hurting him.
Each of these owners has created a business around their strengths, are smart and passionate, all of which are essential to being a business owner but a successful business needs all the aspects managed correctly. Business owners that struggle to succeed do the work of the business that they enjoy and are good at doing. They avoid or resist aspects of the business that does not fit their skill set, which they fear or feel uncertain about doing. These fears kill a business. Self-awareness is essential to owning a successful business. What am I good at doing? What do I resist? Admit that I don’t know what I don’t know. We all see through a small lens and can’t see anything that stimulates energy, a picture, a memory or emotion that make us uncomfortable. We put our head in the sand while our business suffers.
I tell these stories as we start the New Year to inspire business owners to take a deep breath, do a self and business assessment. Why do we persist running our business in a way that is not producing the results we want? What do you need to make your business successful this year?
Take the time to stop and meditate. Clear your thinking especially if it has not worked.
Quiet your body so that what you resist or fear does not cloud your awareness. From a space of quiet, go within and meditate on your business. What is working? What is not? What do you resist or fear?
Success is not a mystery. When we open our awareness of how we are getting in the way then we can make the changes needed to grow a successful business. If what you did last year did not produce the results, you want then find out what needs to change within you and in your business so that 2015 is different.
Best wishes on your success, Kay