Do you feel like your business is running you, instead of the other way around? Are you spending most days fighting fires that you never saw coming? Staying up way too late doing your accounts and coming into work too tired to really focus? Finding your business has turned into something you never expected, and don’t really like?
Every small business owner has experienced that “out of control” feeling. It’s not a good feeling for you personally, and it’s a big warning sign for your business.
It’s time to show your business who is boss! We provide five great ways to put you back in charge. Here goes….
1. Have a plan and write it down
We can’t emphasize it enough: a well considered business plan is the single best way to wrest back control of your business.
We are not talking about a 100-page thesis designed for your bank manager. We mean a clear and simple plan that lays out your vision, goals and key steps you intend to take to reach those goals.
It’s critical that your plan is written down. Not only does this force you to think things through, it also enables you to check back regularly – so when there are a million things on your to-do list, you can refer back to your plan and prioritise accordingly.
If you are not sure where to start, check out our Business Planning video series. It walks you through all the steps in creating a good business plan.
2. Spend one hour every week evaluating what is and isn’t working
“Work on your business, not in it.” We’ve all heard this refrain. But it’s unrealistic to expect a small business owner to invest all (or even most) of their time working “on” the business. There are customers to serve, staff to motivate and fires to fight.
However, it IS realistic to set aside a specific time every week for reviewing your plan and evaluating what’s working and what’s not. As little as an hour a week could prevent things from running off the rails and keep you in control.
3. Start saying no
Motivated, energetic small business owners usually have a hard time saying no. Before you know it they are running the local Rotary, helping out at their children’s school play and helping a friend rebuild their deck, not to mention over-servicing their clients.
Stop saying yes to everything and really evaluate your decision carefully each time someone asks you to do something.
Take some time to review the commitments you have currently. Chances are you have already over-committed and this is affecting your ability to take control of your business. It may be time to shed some of these responsibilities!
4. Set boundaries – no more answering emails at midnight
You may well feel like you have to take advantage of every minute in every day to get back control of your business. But the truth is that we all need space to rest, restore and find perspective. Answering emails at midnight, taking client calls on Sunday morning and working every weekend is more than likely going to send you spinning out of control.
We are not saying you shouldn’t work hard. But establish some clear boundaries and stick to them. Set clear office hours and make your clients aware of them. If you work from home ensure that your office space is separated from your living space. Commit yourself to set work hours and only exceed these hours in exceptional circumstances.
5. Don’t go it alone – join a group or get a coach
Perhaps the most overwhelming thing about running a small business is the sense of isolation. Every buck stops with you. Every problem is yours to fix. Every client complaint feels personal. As a business owner you seem to feel every bump in the road.
We strongly recommend that you find support to overcome that sense of isolation. Consider joining a business group in the community or online, or find a mentor or business coach.
If you need help preparing a business plan or are interested in getting a business coach please contact us. We are here to help!