Problem: You feel like you’re constantly spinning plates trying to keep them all whirling and if anything takes your attention then SMASH—!
Solution: Business structure and time management. There are different, diverging skill sets needed in a business- finance, operations, sales, marketing, management etc- either you need to get someone more qualified than you in that seat or you need to arrange your time so that each task gets fulfilled without you burning out.
Try tracking your activities over a week and then segment each activity into how important it is that YOU do it.
1- I have to do this. 2- I could train someone to do this. 3- I shouldn’t be doing this at all. Then arrange to hire and delegate the task.
Cash Flow Chaos
Problem: Running out of operating cash and funding options. In business, cash is- (all together now!) “revenue is vanity, profit is sanity, cash flow is king!” Very good. You need to keep a tight control of your expenses and your cash flow to avoid spiralling out of control.
Solution: Keep a budget for the year that you actually follow and track any variance week by week, month by month and keep a rolling 12-week cash flow forecast. This is basically a forecasted revenue and expenses spreadsheet (yes, you have to estimate!) that lets you know how much cash you expect to have in your account and can often predict cash-flow catastrophes with ample time to put things straight!
Problem: It’s quite common for business owners to have one or two ‘difficult’ clients that take up all of their time and focus and leave them feeling drained.
Solution: Understand who you are best to serve and what type of customers make you feel alive and then create a ‘private club’ type policy of only taking on clients who you can truly serve and profit from. Raise your prices and only take on people who are committed to doing what it takes. When you ‘fire’ a client and understand that it only strengthens your existing customer base you’ll wonder why you held off for so long!
Wild West Vs Sharp Shooter Marketing
Problem: Wild West Advertising is where you throw your marketing budget at the wall and see what sticks. Too many business owners don’t understand their market and don’t have an effective lead generation/ conversion strategy because they never took the time to track and analyse their marketing results.
Solution: Direct response! Make sure every bit of advertising you do leads to ONE action that you can track i.e a phone call you track with tracking numbers, a coupon code that is unique for that piece of direct mail etc. Then see which channels bring you the best return and how much revenue those ads get you for each pound spent on them. That way you’ll become a sharpshooter like Dan Bradbury.
Problem: You have employees but they drain the life out of you, they cause more problems than they solve, they regularly rack up complaints etc.
Solution: Every 6 months you should go through your staff list and ask this question: ‘would I gladly re-hire this person?’ If the answer is either a ‘no’ or a ‘probably not’ then you should either ‘open them up for further opportunities in the job market’ or you should have a serious talk with them. Life’s too short to let either inattention or worry keep you from having a supportive dream-team around you.
Problem: Whenever I ask a business owner about their competition I get worried by how few people have done any serious competitor research. A lot of people can’t even name and list their key competitors or if they can they haven’t started strategically marketing in relation to their chief competitors.
Solution: List all your competitors and the key information: range of products/ services, price points, target market, ad strategy. Then work out how you can position yourself in your marketing such that you are the logical choice. Work out if you can partner with some of your competitors in a win/ win way so you can each build your databases while not directly competing.
Problem: A lot of business owners don’t have any fixed goals or even a fixed budget for the year. This means that they can never really tell how on or off track they are. It’s akin to shooting a gun toward the wall and painting a bullseye wherever it lands rather than painting a bullseye and practising until you can hit it.
Solution: Create a one-page strategic document where you put all your key goals for the year / quarter/ month and then the critical numbers you intend to hit and then create an annual budget. (Yes, it will all be guesstimated or based on last years figures as closely as possible.) This way you can GROW as a business and as a team as you figure out how to reach the targets.