So what’s holding you back?
Yes, I know there’s all the practical aspects of your business like funding, customers, people and resources, but what about you ….?
Here are 10 areas which consistently stifle success:
1) Not having a goal
“if you don’t know where you are going, all roads lead there”. It so easy to get drawn into the day to issues of running a business and to assume that your sheer energy and drive will automatically create a good result. On the contrary, clearly defined goals, written down and shared (not in your head) are essential to ensure that your activity is aligned to where you want to get you.
2) Expecting a smooth ride
Successful entrepreneurs understand that no plan ever happens as they envisage it, but its their resilience in the face of unforeseen factors and their ability to adapt whilst still staying focussed on their goal that enables them to succeed.
3) The wrong people
It is essential to have the right people in and around your business. As businesses grow the skills, capabilities, attitudes and behaviours of the team will need to change also – not everyone is willing, suitable or capable of transitioning. Some people are really great in early stage start up environments but feel stifled as a business gets bigger and needs more “corporate style” process and procedure. So the team that helped you get started may not be the same team you need for the next stage. Same applies to customers too – the type of customer you can successfully and profitably serve will change over time.
4) Self-deception / discipline
One of the joys of running your own business, is the freedom to do whatever you like whenever you like with no one looking over your shoulder, but you’ll have to have the self-discipline to focus on priorities. Is what you are doing making money, spending it or wasting money? Being your own boss means just that – you have to be your own boss, setting your goals and reviewing your own performance.
Of course quality is important, perfect is not. It’s so easy to over engineer, adding in additional features, causing delay and excessive complexity because we want everyone to love it. Remember that the definition of “quality” is “fit for purpose”, not perfect. 80% perfect is good enough in 80% of situations.
This often goes with perfectionism to create paralysis. Putting off difficult conversations, tough decisions or just doing other things we enjoy more – if it’s difficult the time to do it is now rather than having it hanging over you, swirling around in the back of your mind.
7) Its delivery that matters
“Customers don’t measure you on how hard you tried, they measure you on what you deliver” Steve Jobs. The same applies inside a team, it’s not being busy that counts it what your activity achieves. It doesn’t matter how many phone calls you make, how many emails sent or tweets you post – it’s the effect of them that matters. It doesn’t matter how hard the chef tried, or even how good the food is, if its served too late.
8) Urgent v important
We have President Eisenhower to thank for this one, he identified that we spend most of our time doing unimportant things which we think are urgent. So he identified the 4 options for all tasks: Do it now, Decide when to do it, Delegate it, or Delete it. The challenge of tackling important tasks is that tend to take longer, so if you don’t start them soon enough you will hold back progress – especially if you are bogged down fighting fires all the time. Don’ forget the 80:20 rule either. 80% of progress will come from 20% of your activity.
9) Personal productivity
Bring your best self to work every day – fit, healthy, well rested, all the obvious well-being aspects. But also use whatever tools you can to help increase efficiency and minimise time wasting, tedious activity – use technology to help, but never let it get in the way or become a time waster. Switch off email, close down the browser, don’t check the news, leave Facebook alone, switch off the phone, go for a walk. Time only happens once, so make the most of it.
10) Trying to do everything
It’s so easy to become a jack of all trades, master of none. Many executives and entrepreneurs find that as the scale of their role gets bigger, they spend less and less time doing what they actually enjoy. Entrepreneurs usually found a business because. they have a specific skill or passion, but end spending all their time dealing with landlords, accountants, finance, lawyers, HR issues, policy, procedure which they have no experience or interest in. A marketing director recently told me she spends 3 days a week “reporting” and another told me she spends 10% of time doing marketing and 90% on “stuff”. Go back to your core – focus on what you are good at and enjoy, delegate or outsource the rest – there are other people who actually enjoy all that stuff and are much better at it than you!
Ultimately, it’s all down to you so, “If you want to know why your business is not growing – always look in the mirror first”!