The Brick Wall
I was chatting to a small business owner today who was sharing that she had had a "Brick Wall Week". Don't we all? Sometimes those brick walls are created by a downturn in the broader economy - by big macro issues that are out of our control. Sometimes they are the actions of a competitor. Sometimes it is because you have come out of a really busy period working in the business and you haven't kept up the marketing to keep a long line of customers coming in the door. The Brick Wall effect is feeling like which ever way we turn there is no way forward. And that is when we turn into Hardy Hah Hah. Remember him from the Hanna Barbera cartoon of the 70s? He was the pessimistic, gloomy and overly cautious hyena who when faced with any situation - any hint of change or challenge - would whine in his nassaly voice: "Oh Me, Oh My". So, what to do? 1. Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall Take time to have a long hard look at yourself. You may have managed to get by until now without a business plan, let alone a marketing strategy, but without these tools you are going to be floudering. Do an analysis of your cash flow and your pricing. Check that your business plan is still on track and adjust accordingly. Prepare a marketing strategy. Are you really running your business the best, most efficient and most enjoyable way that you can? 2. Lose Control As business owners we are not the only ones in control of our business. OUr customers have as much say about where we are going and how we should get there as we do. Take this time to find out how your customers would run your business if all of the decisions were theirs to make. Do they want better service? Do they want increased value? Think of your customers as the boss of you, and then build your business by installing the systems and processes to deliver exactly what the boss wants. 3. When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping Have a look at all of the products and services that you are using in your business and evaluate what still works for you and what you are using just for convenience. Do you need new providers? Do you need to access professional services? Are you getting the best rates? Is their better software out there that can free up your time or make you more efficient? 4. Embrace your inner "grasshopper" Find one or more business mentors or masters who can share their wisdom. Tape into advice from people who have been there and done that. Don't restrict your search for advise and guidance to just one person, or even just to your industry or business sector: Search online, read magazines, check out reference texts, find out what government programs may be available to you. Be prepared to listen, to learn and importantly to take off the blinkers and be open to change. 5. Get out of your business Get out into the market place. Attend networking events. Take seminars and workshops. Talk to other business owners about what is and isn't working for them. Sit and watch the world go by, learn to breathe, and stop looking at that Brick Wall. You are running your own business. It ain't all beer and skittles. But pushing through the Brick Walls and coming out the other side with a better business is immensely satisfying. You can do it!