Mistake #3 FAILURE TO WORK “ON” YOUR BUSINESS RATHER THAN JUST “IN” IT.
Michael Gerber, in his classic business book The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most New Businesses Fail and What to Do About It, identified the No. 1 challenge of entrepreneurship: working on your business, not in it. It’s not rocket science that entrepreneurs and their businesses really benefit by having in place a structure whereby they are committed to work “on” their business at regular intervals.
Looking from the outside into the world of the entrepreneur one would think that with all the flexibility entrepreneurs have they would choose to spend at least some of their time doing what they know they should do: strategize, research, vision, and put “pins in place” for continual improvement and growth.
The reality is, however, that many entrepreneurs adopt an attitude that the only time flexibility they really have is in choosing which 12 hours of the day they will work! When an entrepreneur takes the position that they just don’t have the time to work “on” their business before too long they will be looking back and wishing they had done it differently.
But how do you change from being a day to day business “technician”, dealing with customers and putting out fires, to spending time as a visionary executive looking at your business from the outside in?
The best way: schedule committed time to work “on” your business! If you are like most entrepreneurs, who have created the “busy business noise” in which can be difficult to even hear yourself think, you will have to structure your time in such a way that the urgencies of the moment will not deter you from this important work. You and your business will benefit from a structure which ensures that you use the time you allocated for exactly what you intended, regardless of the emergency du jour.
How much time do you spend working “on” your business rather than “in” it? Your business success depends upon your answer.
Mistake #2 FAILURE TO HAVE A SOLID PLAN
You’ve heard it before…now hear it again: If you fail to plan – you are planning to fail.
Time and time again clients come to me in frustration, teetering on the edge of business failure and personal burn-out. Most often they have one thing in common: they don’t have a solid plan and lack clear goals to guide their decisions and focus their energy.
Most entrepreneurs start their businesses with a wonderful new idea, unbounded enthusiasm, and a ton of energy. Not only is a solid plan a good idea before you embark on a new business venture, it can also keep you moving forward at maximum velocity with your existing business. Without a clearly defined plan, even if your business idea is sound and practical, you will begin to doubt your grand idea during those times when the work seems harder and the results slower than you first imagined. It is during those times when entrepreneurs without a plan find their energy drained and their enthusiasm seriously on the wane. Those with a plan find it much easier to stay the course and stay on the path to business success.
If business consultants, authors, and coaches harp on about why having a documented business plan is so darn important, why do so many business owners fail to develop and use a plan? Here are some possible reasons:
- They have an inkling in their head and that’s good enough
- They have a long list of reasons as to why it’s too hard to have a plan
- They know they won’t use it so why write it?
- They think the plan must be perfect so they choose to wait until they know everything
- The idea of plan seems limiting to their creativity and flexibility
Having a plan, a set of strategies, for where your business is going, and how (at least for now) you intend to take it there, is absolutely essential for business success. Pinning clear motivational goals to your plan focuses your thoughts, energy, and creativity and draws you towards the ultimate goal of business success.
Take a look at your plan and your current goals. Are they compelling? Do they excite you? Do they help you focus on both short term and long term objectives?
If you have a business and you still don’t have a plan…do something different! Go about getting a plan in place in a different way – get some help.
Mistake #1 INSISTING ON “GOING IT ALONE”
In 2007 Discover Card conducted an independent survey to shed light on the characteristics of the 22 million small business owners in the United States. The number one trait common to small business owners? “Independence is their prime motivation”. Other studies confirm that while there are many personality characteristics common to most entrepreneurs one trait is shared by each and every one: a very independent spirit. Entrepreneurs choose to go it alone, to take the road less travelled by.
Entrepreneurs are a fiercely independent bunch entrepreneurs often give up security, take on increased responsibility and risk, and throw the comfort of routine out the window.
Entrepreneurs are independent thinkers and independent “doers”. Their quest for independence motivates them to leave the job of baker and own a bakery, to leave the job of tire salesman to become an independent wholesaler. That driving need for independence is very strong and only another entrepreneur can truly understand what that it feels like.
It’s a sad irony that far too many business owners sabotage their own business growth because they regard a smaller business as being more compatible with their quest for independence than a larger, albeit more successful, company.
Entrepreneurs without a good support structure keep their ideas close to their chest and bottle up their fears and worries. They don’t have any one to discuss their short-term and long range plans. They have no place to talk shop…to talk about those things that staff and family wouldn’t grasp. So, aside from stunted business growth, all that rugged individualism can translate into other costs such as less profit, overlooked opportunities, more work, more stress, poor decision making and exaggerated uncertainty. These are the symptoms of Entrepreneurial Isolation Sickness.
Entrepreneurs who have mentors, trusted advisors, and a team of peers with whom they collaborate have the best of both worlds. They enjoy the support provided by a larger corporate environment, complete with a “water cooler” around which ideas are shared. They reap the benefits of accountability and feedback, while retaining full autonomy.