As I spoke to the anxious hurried business owners the other day, I tried really hard to follow.
Basically, they did a little bit of everything and were quick to assure me they could do anything.
What is your main focus? What area is the most profitable? Who is your customer?
We can do a lot of things. We were profitable last year. People who need these services are our customers.
The truth of the matter is that they CAN do all of the things they are doing and they can be profitable. However, the reason we were talking is because their sales are at a plateau, bobbing up and down each year. They are worn out and fed up with re-creating the wheel each day. They are starting to experience turnover as they try to squeeze more blood from the turnip.
They are basically stuck.
Stuck in that uncomfortable, overwhelming spot of trying to do a little bit of everything, with little help, and not being able to grow because they cannot stretch any further.
When I hear this type of business description from a small business owner, I have to start back at the beginning of the foundation for any business….the VISION.
Vision is tricky and means different things to different people. My simple definition is:
What would your business look like in the future if you were fully maximizing it’s potential? Or if your business grew and developed exactly as you hoped, what would it look like in 5 years? 10 years?
Aren’t Visions for Stuffy Bureaucratic Businesses That Need a Plaque on Their Wall?
Why do we need this? Why is a fully developed vision so important?
If you don’t know what you are trying to create, you are likely to experience these problems:
1. You employ inconsistent strategies that create confusion, inefficiency, and stress.
Short-term strategies, that change constantly, to whatever meets today’s needs, have a cumulative negative impact on your business. Constantly switching strategies confuses you, your staff, and your customers.
2. You hire the wrong people.
If you don’t know where you are going, or what long-term strategies you will employ, you hire people that meet a short-term need. How do you know if they will meet your long-term needs or care about what you are trying to accomplish?
Who you hire is very dependent on the vision you are trying to achieve.
3. You put inadequate systems, automation, and procedures in place.
Or worse, you don’t put them in at all. When we are just starting out we tell ourselves that we don’t need all of the formality and we don’t have the time to systematize everything. After all it is just a couple of us. We don’t need a bunch of written procedures or complicated time-consuming systems.
Have you ever tried to add in a new system once you have many employees who are all very set in their manual ways?
4. Marketing becomes too expensive to even do.
Small business owners already struggle with spending money on marketing. It is hard to measure and doesn’t always have an immediate impact. Can you imagine trying to create a marketing message when you do a little bit of everything and you change strategies often. You end up changing logos, reprinting marketing materials, and/or re-creating sales materials. Imagine creating a brochure for every service you offer when you don’t know if you are keeping the service or whether or not it is even profitable.
Soon it becomes overwhelming and you don’t do anything.
5. You can’t create a real point of difference – at least not a positive one.
If you can’t identify for yourself what the vision is for your company, how are you going to describe how you are the best at something that you cannot define.
Saying you do a little of everything the customer’s way may sound like a wonderful message that your prospects want to hear.
In reality, you are not becoming known for your expertise in any one area. And, when you go to execute the variety of things you do in the long run without a vision, strategy, the right people and the needed systems, it isn’t likely that you are going to do any of it really well. Especially not consistently.
In the end, these 5 really real problems get your business stuck.
There is Hope and a Plan
The hope is that it can all be changed.
God is our hope.
A second step, and in no way am I comparing it as an alternative to seeking God in your business, is to sign up for the Crossroads Clarity Kit. God knows we are human and sometimes we need a little human structure and accountability to even understanding God’s vision for us.
The Crossroads Clarity has a wonderful assessment to help you figure out which parts of a strong business foundation you may have missed, and a guide that will help you to turn around the five problems described above.
Get your FREE Crossroads Clarity Assessment here.