As a small business owner, I feel like I am always looking over my shoulder, wondering what will get in the way. Always asking myself what will be the next obstacle I will face. I asked myself this question repeatedly when I was the young entrepreneur. Encountering obstacles is one thing we all have in common in building a business. The thing that sets us apart, however, is how we each deal with the obstacles. Some people allow obstacles to derail them mentally and emotionally; others have learned to jump the hurdles while running. While many obstacles can be avoided, they are the result of un-managed emotions, ingrained habits and habitual mistakes we make with other people. Unattended, these obstacles become emotional thieves that we allow into our lives. They steal our focus, sap our mental energy and, sometimes, thwart our most important initiatives.
One of my mentors always told me…’Obstacles are only obstacles until you move them out of your way’. This mindset has followed me throughout my career.
What can you do to close the door on obstacles so you can capitalize on our opportunities to succeed? Here are six strategies to help you keep your thoughts in perspective.
1. Mindset– Mindset is a set of assumptions, methods, or notations held by one or more people or groups of people that is so established that it creates a powerful incentive within these people or groups to continue to adopt or accept prior behaviors, choices, or tools. You must never lose sight that How We think is connected to, How We Act, which is connected to, How We perform, which is connected to, How we deliver, which is connected to how we serve, Customer Service which is ultimately connected to Profitability…’We Win’ or we lose.
2. Gut Intuition– Education and real life experiences are great but at the end of the day ‘gut intuition’ guides, many of the decisions we make as business leaders. Our built in radar often tells us we are making the right decision or possibly the wrong one.
3. Money Management– Make frugality a company value. “Living too high for the business” is another cause for failure. You can easily avoid this one obstacle. It’s not uncommon to witness a startup that earns a lot of money or even gets some funding and begins to spend like a Fortune 500 company. Euphoria and the thrill of the win replace common sense.
4. Pricing- One of the challenges small-business owners often face is having the right pricing strategies for their products and services. Sometimes, our emotions dictate the price we charge. For example, we may fear we will lose the sale and start charging too little, thereby continually lowering our profit margin. This can create insurmountable obstacles down the road. Emotional pricing can also result from a feeling of pride. Always price with your head, not your heart.
5. Risk vs. Reward- Every business owner needs to have a Risk vs. Reward scale in his/her office. An owner must always evaluate the risks and rewards of the decisions they make. If your gut tells you that there is a real risk involved in what you are deciding, you must have the courage to walk away from it before it becomes a major obstacle. The energy you will have released from letting it go will increase your concentration on what works—the ‘Reward’. This process of risk management will allow you to apply the intensity of a laser focus on the right target.
6. Innovation- Stay fresh or die! Continually replace old strategies with new ones. Biggest obstacle small business owner’s face is their own comfort zone. Some obstacles are the result of our ingrained habits—clinging to outdated modes and ways of doing business because it’s what we know best. One such example is relying on outbound marketing tactics without considering the value of inbound marketing strategies. Another example is business differentiation. What we do and how we do it better than others do it.
In closing, simplify and stay focused on what you know, and what you do best, but always innovate on how to so it better!
‘stay focused on your core product or service’. If you believe in your product, and you know that it adds value, don’t go looking for the next exciting thing, simply look how to improve on what you do and how you do it.
Your thoughts and opinions?
Looking for a good book on the subject, suggested reading;
- The Visionary Leader: How to inspire success from the top down.
- Susan Bagyura (Author), Michael E. Gerber (Foreword), Fiona Dempsey (Illustrator)