Many small business owners start out as sole proprietors with a great idea that they build a business around. The focus quickly moves to making the business profitable or at the very least, keeping one's head above water before personal financing runs out. During this period, there is often no clear distinction between the business and the person running it. The business, like a baby, needs all of their time, energy, attention and resources to make sure it survives.
Unfortunately, survival can become a way of life for small business owners long after the company is established. This means they continue to do most things themselves, thus reducing the number of hours they have to lead the business. Here are ten tips for leaders stuck in survival mode:
1. Compelling, clear vision
Having a picture of where the business is going and what it will look like when you get there is critical to your success and building alignment of efforts with employees.
2. Business plan
Don't travel without a roadmap. You need a solid detailed plan to spell out how you are going to achieve your vision.
Defining the strategy will help you with the steps that are required for you to get there.
4. Marketing plan
Whether it is a product or service you are offering, if no one knows about it, you are going to get stuck in survival. A marketing plan creates the kind of attention you need in front of the right types of people, companies, etc. It is what attracts people to you! There are many creative ways to market your business at no or low cost.
5. Support system
It is important to have a network of people who have similar, related, non-competitive successful businesses you can turn to for support and advice. They can provide an excellent resource and may supply introductions and endorsements to others for you.
6. Financial plan
During the excitement of starting a business, it's easy to overlook the gap between making the first few sales and banking the money. Without enough cash reserve or planned cash flow coming in, a company will stall or even fail. You also need to know where you stand on a regular basis, with regard to income versus expenses. Having a system where you record the appropriate key data allows you to quickly analyze the information and make adjustments where necessary.
7. Investment in your employees
Motivating, coaching and managing your staff is probably one of your toughest challenges as small business owners. Without your patience, persistence and "people skills", your problems can multiply quickly. Morale, productivity, and employee confidence can easily be destroyed causing employees to leave and eroding the foundation of the business.
8. Don't be a lone ranger
You might be the key to everything but you can't do everything and grow at the same time. Even modest success can overwhelm you unless you do the following: hire the right staff and delegate responsibility, work with a business coach or mentor, and know your unique talent and abilities and spend the majority of your time doing only that! Delegate everything except your genius!
Know when you are the obstacle that is getting in the way of the growth of your business.
10. Emotional intelligence
Understanding your fears and working to break through personal barriers by challenging self-limiting beliefs and behaviours will help you achieve both personal and business success.
Anne Dranitsaris, PhD, is a corporate therapist, author and creator of the Striving Styles Personality System - a system which helps people, leaders and organizations achieve their potential. She is a published and prolific writer on emotional intelligence, personality type and behaviour in organizations.