Building on my previous article, here are some other factors which may hold back a business from reaching its full potential.
Lack of funding or investment – the fear of going broke
In the early days especially but also ongoing, cashflow, or lack of it, has always an issue and unfortunately is the biggest reason businesses fail. Make sure you know how money is flowing in and out of your business and focus on profit, not turnover. Whilst money may be tight, do allocate some for investment into marketing or outsourcing so that your business continues to grow.
Whatever you do spend, make sure you measure the return on investment so you can make the most of where you are spending your money. You are not going to grow if you don't invest in certain areas or rely on free-to-low cost options.
Further to my earlier points, if you know where you are heading and who your target market is, the decisions of where to invest can become clearer.
No processes in place – the fear of thinking big
Now again this may seem like a corporate thing rather than a small business issue, but this is part of “thinking big” for your business. Not everything can rely on what is in your head and how you do things. Should you evolve and start to outsource services or engage staff, you need some way of replicating your business model, or part thereof, so that those stakeholders involved can work alongside you and row in the same direction. Again this doesn't have to be an overwhelming manual for your business but can evolve over time.
Lack of focus – the fear of saying no
This links into a number of the other points in this article but I think is important enough to get its own mention. Firstly is the business running you or are you running the business? By this I mean are you just fighting the day to day fight of keeping your head above water; being overwhelmed by what is coming at you next? Maybe it is time to take a step back and take a bit more of an overview and focus on those things that are important to you?
This ties in with your vision, your plan, your target market and your ability to delegate.
Secondly, when you start up, if you are anything like me, you say “yes” to every prospect/client, “yes” to every proposed 1-to-1 meeting and “yes” to suppliers and other influences around you. Sometimes the most powerful word is “No”. No that's not for me, no I can't undertake that right now, no I'm not interested – whatever it may be. Now again this may kick in with British politeness and feeling that you have to say “yes”. However try this out, it could save you oodles of precious time not chasing bright shiny objects or going down blind alleys, but being consistent with your overall direction for the business.
The business relies too heavily on you – the fear of being redundant!
This relates well to my earlier point about business processes. If the business relies solely on you to operate, then there is no inherent value in the business, as no one will be able to take it over and run it despite you.
So, there are two things to consider here. Firstly if you are the main income provider for you and your family through your business, then what happens if you become incapable in some way of carrying out the day to day functions that make your business work? What do you do? You need an easy way of handing over the responsibilities to others.
Secondly, presumably you are in business to make money, and you don't necessarily want to be working until you drop down dead on the job! Therefore you need an exit strategy – which could be handing over the business to family or selling to a third party. So again, you need to create a business that is independent of you and therefore has something of interest for a potential investor.
I hope that this and the previous article gives you some ideas as to how to improve the growth of your business (should you choose to), and I wish you every success for your future growth. In the words of Susan Jeffers: “Feel the fear and do it anyway”!