3 Reasons Small Business Owners Are Their Own Worst Enemy (Part 1)
Boy would I love to say I'm writing this "in theory" or "hypothetically", but I can't. I am writing this from over a decade of trial and error. Well, mostly error; big error. Not, "oh shoot, I forgot to process payroll" error. More like, "oh crap, I've spent my life savings on advertising and gotten zero ROI" error.
This was my life. I had purchased two franchises that were on the brink of closing
their doors. Hindsight - perhaps not the best investment, but I must admit, I love the climb. I love the struggle, the plateaus, the places you come to that seem to be the
end, until finally you muster enough gumption to break through.
Yep, I live for those. So really, it was a perfect fit.
The amount of business savvy I had - coupled with the fact that I was in my early 20's and full of unencumbered energy - had gotten me as far as any brick-and-mortar small business owner could hope to go. I had a steady, yet meager income. I was known in my small community. I was helping people, and loving what I did.
However, in the end, the relentless trial and error brought me to a place of destitution - selling one business, and closing the other in bankruptcy.
After years of study and toil, I am here today, with the knowledge and experience it takes to build businesses without having to sell your house, car, dog, and spouse to fund it.
In order to understand how to succeed in this world, we first must understand what or who has been stopping us. That answer is found when you look yourself in the mirror.
These three sabotaging thought processes land you in a world of struggle, every time; But there's hope. In part 2, I'll share with you 3 ways you can be your biggest business asset.
1. The Past is in the Past. Welcome to the Age of Digital Media.
Many of the small business owners who are struggling are not millennials -
instead are gen-x ers. You know - the ones who like to give millennials a bad rap and tell them to get off their phones and get to work. ...
Yeah, well.... excuse me while I clear my throat and shoot you a knowing gaze...
I won't go so far as to say print media is dead, because it's not. Flyers, brochures, and direct mail, have their place - it's just a place far below that of digital media. Over 3 billion people use the internet today.
Case in point, you're not reading this out of a newspaper, now are you?
In order to truly succeed in small business today, you must lay down the past notion that only advertising on menus at the local diner and newsletters at the Red Hat Society are going to get you where you want to be.
Get out of your own way and open yourself up to the trending world of online advertising. More about this coming in part 2.
2. Expansion Doesn't Always Mean Bigger.
Remember those businesses I bought on the brink of death? Well, one of them I purchased and moved to a bigger facility within a month. I freshened everything up, fixed, purchased, painted, and reopened under my name, and my new excitement.
The first year was amazing. We tripled in membership, I expanded my staff, and product lines. Life was good.
Then I got the news while on maternity leave (which for a small business owner really just means work your butt off from home while nursing your infant, instead of work your butt off at work while nursing your infant) that my building had been sold and in six months we needed to be moved out.
Not the kind of news you want to get when you're dealing with postpartum hormones, but I thought I handled it pretty well. I decided that because we'd tripled in size and I projected to double again that year, it was best to move into a space that was at least double our current space.
After looking for the perfect site, I found it. It was huge. Bigger than I needed, but I felt sure I was going to fill it up fast.
So to answer your question, no. I did not hit my projection that year. We had problem after problem. Issues with parking, issues with huge utility bills, need for security systems due to the size of the building, advertising in all the wrong places with all the wrong content, and so much more.
Within 1 year, my doors were closed for good.
Many small business owners, like myself, have this idea that if I'm growing out of my brick-and-mortar building, it's a good time to find a bigger building. I question that thinking however. Sure, for some that may be wise, but for many, the need for a bigger physical space is not the best allocation of resources.
With ecommerce growing at a rate of 8-12% as opposed to brick-and-mortar at 3.8%, I challenge the need to expand through brick-and-mortar at all. But, I digress. More on this in part 2.
3. If You Want Something Done Right, You've Got to do it Yourself.
Can I get an "amen"? I mean, what struggling business owner can look themselves in the mirror and say, "I trust others to grow my business like I would". Years ago, I sure couldn't.
Though my team was amazing, and I cared for them deeply, I felt like I needed to be involved with everything from stock room organizations, to sales floor strategy.
Forbes found that of 200 companies researched, only 1 in 10 showed sustainable growth over multiple years. Of those successful companies, 85% of them used outsourcing to get products to market faster and acquire excellent talent that they otherwise wouldn't posses.
It is time for small business owners to realize that with every new contractor, freelancer, or outsourcing you open the door for new talent, new prospective, and a breath of fresh air for your business.
It is a lesson I wish I had learned sooner. More on best practices of successful business outsourcing in part 2.
In the end, I learned a gut wrenching lesson in business. My story is as cliche as the rise of the mythical phoenix, but through it I'm changing lives and businesses everyday.
If your business is struggling contact me or leave me a comment, and don't forget to read part 2 for the rest of the story.