As you know, running a small business isn’t easy, but if it were, everyone would be doing it. Business owners of today need to be more flexible and plan for the unexpected, set boundaries for their business and home life to ensure efficiency in both areas at the right times, and create a support network around them.
Unfortunately, many business owners choose to operate in an environment of blame and lack of trust, and with a victim mentality. Keeping a positive mind requires more energy and effort, which is why many business owners decide that blaming everything from the economy to their lack of good customers is the reason for their poor performance.
Stop and think about your business. Do you and your team members have a positive or negative mind? If the answer is positive, you get a gold star. If the answer is negative, you need to make some decisions about what you are going to do about that. And remember, you need brutal truth. You can pretend you are positive if you like, but the only person you will be fooling is yourself, and that doesn’t help you a whole lot.
Running a business where everyone is accountable can be fun and full of positives, as long as you learn a few fundamentals around mindset, critical thinking and planning.
It all starts with clarity. Clarity comes when you feel you are winning. Clarity is not about dollars and cents, and it’s not about how many clients you have. It’s not about your marketing or your cash flow or your balance sheet. All this stuff comes later. Clarity is about the DNA of your business. It’s about what drives you and the people around you. It’s the heart and soul of why you go into the office every day and the promise you make to your customers. It’s an unshakeable confidence about who you are and why you do what you do for those that you choose to do it for. If you don’t have confidence, trust, self-discipline and someone to keep you accountable, you can’t expect others to.
You’re enrolled or you’re not; you’re serving a purpose or you’re not; you’re maximizing your opportunities or you’re not. You’re at your personal best or you’re not. It’s an ethos, and it’s a culture for you and your business. Are you clear on what your number-one big outcome is? The quality of the decisions you strategically make will determine the direction of your business. What is your number-one big outcome? For me, it is to provide a better quality of life for my clients.
Notice that it is not based on the dollars and cents; it’s more than that. What is it that you are in business to provide? Then ask yourself, are you growing or dying? One question I always ask business owners that I meet is, “Are you in maintenance mode or growth mode?” Which of these two do you connect with?
You must look in the mirror and make a conscious choice about this because they are two different mindsets, and whichever approach you take will affect each and every decision you make in your business. If you’re not clear about which mode you are in, you could be headed for trouble.
You may think you should be in maintenance mode, treading carefully and being conservative until you can get back on your feet, and then you can worry about growth. But let me tell you something right now: You should always be in growth mode. That’s right, always.
To be in growth mode means you are focused on the future. You should have three to five-year goals as well as shorter-term targets to ensure you’re on track to the greater destination. Being in growth mode means having a strategic plan that is the basis for all the decisions you make.
Go slow to go fast. Sometimes you must go two steps backward to go four steps forward, but you must see the opportunities before you and not just the costs. Focus on the cost of opportunity, not the cost of growth, and be prepared and strategic to take a short-term hit for long-term gain. Business is demanding. It always has been, and it always will be. Every plan A should have a plan B
Having decided that you are in growth mode, you must always ensure that every plan A always has a plan B. I always say, “Every problem I am experiencing today started out as a great idea!”
So, when things start to go pear-shaped and your business appears to be going off track, do you start making decisions in a blind panic just to get out of the current mess? This is a great way to relieve the stress of running a business, because if you keep doing this, fairly soon you won’t have a business left to worry about.
Just as important as using your plan to guide your decisions and growth is having a plan B for everything you do. We all know that despite best efforts and careful planning things still go wrong from time to time. All businesses hit speed bumps. It’s inevitable. So whenever you make an important decision in your business, make sure you have a backup plan as well.
When the opportunity moves from the head to the heart, you will move forward. When you fully own and take responsibility for what you are doing, and when you are totally committed, good things will start to happen.
Stefan Kazakis is a business strategist, sought after presenter and speaker and author of the new book From Deadwood to Diamonds.
I am often asked the question, “How can I keep both myself and my team accountable?” Here are my top tips for keeping yourself and your team on the path to success, which will transform your business into a ‘diamond business’.