Most business owners start out with a burning passion and desire to get into their particular venture. By and large, they have knowledge, experience and skills, which enable them to go to the market and legitimately offer products and services for sale. However, it is usually their passion and positive attitude, when combined with their knowledge, experience and skills, that creates a compelling proposition and the market happily agrees to do business with them.
This works extremely well for some time and the business grows, and if managed prudently, produces a healthy profit outcome. Naturally there are obstacles that come along the way, but once again determination and wherewithal find a way to overcome these. There then comes “The Wall”, which seems just a little too high to get over, too long to go around, too strong to burst through and feels like it’s on too solid a foundation to tunnel under. “The Wall” can be in the form of service delivery issues, operational issues, regulatory issues, staffing issues, marketing issues and sometimes a combination of two or more. Old ways to solve these issues meet resistance and don’t cut it anymore. What’s worse is that “The Wall” seems overwhelming and affects the entrepreneurial spirit; where once there was passion and positivity, now resides doubt, fear and negativity.
The market senses doubt, smells fear and distrusts negativity.
This is the time to stand back from the business. This is time to work “on the business”. This is the time to be objective and to consider new strategies and approaches and most of important of all, this is the time to reappraise your goals – why are you in business and what do you want to achieve?
Having a strong “Why” will trump “The Wall”.
A strong “Why” will focus the mind and available resources on “How?” How can you go over, through, round or under?
A strong “Why” focuses you to ask, “What else?” – “What else do I need to be faster, stronger, higher?”
It can be very difficult for the business owner to extract themselves from their day-to-day tasks, even though everyone “knows” the value of working on the business. But how can you make this a regular, good habit? I believe it was Stephen Covey who came up with the concept of categorising tasks into the following four areas:
We all tend to get caught up in the “Urgent and Not Important” quadrant (labeled here as Distraction) – emails, phone calls, interruptions, etc. These have a way of making us feel important and are an easy measure of how busy we are, because we are so snowed under.
Then our attention is grabbed by “Urgent and Important” quadrant (labeled here as Fire Fighting) – bills to pay, invoices to raise, meetings with staff and customers. These tasks have definite deadlines and commercial consequences if they are ignored.
Then we get distracted by that bright shiny thing over there, “Not Important and Not Urgent” (labeled here as Time Wasting) and spend inordinate amounts of time playing with it – surfing online, planning social activities, talking to friends, texting, tweeting and Facebooking. All of it with no value to the business whatsoever, but might give us a timeout and ability to take on the next Urgent or Urgent and Important task.
Somehow we rarely get to the “Important and Not Urgent” quadrant. This is where we streamline processes; improve the various areas of our business; and take time to THINK about stuff! We tend put it off, because it is too hard; requires us to stretch ourselves; makes us feel uncomfortable. The consequences of ignoring “Important and Not Urgent” is that we will be doomed to making the same mistakes and eventually hit “The Wall” and because the “Why” seems out of reach, we never quite climb over it. We have all heard about the need to step outside our comfort zone – well, this is where I advise my business coaching clients to do it – you plan it; you think about it. This is how you take your business to the next level. So you need to make a habit of doing it – mark time in your calendar; have a list of “Important” things to do and this little process will help you achieve great things.
So “Why” might trump the “Wall”, but “Process” trumps “Why”.
Image source: By Grey Geezer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons