Why is it so hard to grow a small business? We’ve seen plenty of small businesses – probably about 500 or more – at close quarters over the years, and they share some characteristics which don’t make it on the usual failure lists published by governments and banks. The reasons we think it’s hard to grow a small business are (in no order):

  1. Knowing your objectives and keeping them in mind at all times
  2. Lack of a plan to achieve those objectives
  3. Poor communication
  4. Not knowing how you are doing
  5. Not knowing how it all fits together
  6. Lack of consistency
  7. Assuming the best
  8. Not enough admin
  9. Lack of accountability
  10. Doing it on the cheap
  11. Fear
  12. Making it up as you go along
  13. Letting the business run you
  14. Inadequate systems
  15. Lack of training – your people
  16. All alone

This is not a daunting list, as some elements are linked – you fix one, you fix two or more. Some don’t cost anything, or not much. Some will cost, but you should get a payback very fast and you can meaure that.

Over the next few blogs, we will pick them off, showing you how each can be changed to your benefit reasonably quickly and easily. Last and first to start with.

All alone

You are all alone as a small business owner. No boss any more, which is a blessing and a curse. The blessing you know. The curse – no one to tell you that you’re doing OK, that you’ve passed a milestone. You’re too busy hurrying on. And no one to talk to who is completely on your side, who understands the business and you and wants the best for you, and maybe someone who knows something you don’t. Mentor, coach, facilitator – the label doesn’t matter. Having someone who cares does matter. If no one else your professional advisors should be doing this – we certainly do for our clients.

Knowing your objectives

Your objectives – why you started, and why you continue.  Have you written them down in clear simple words? Do they describe exactly what success means? Do you know how to do that? We suggest you use similar method to how to write an elevator pitch in Getting your life back.  Like this for each objective:

I WANT my mortgage paid off in 10 years (X) PURPOSE (WHY) because I can then enjoy my leisure time by travelling more WHICH MEANS THAT (HOW) the business has to earn an extra £20000 (Y)  before tax every year to do that.

Notice a clear Y has to happen to achieve X – which makes the objective measurable and real. Then you work out how many more sales you need to make, whether costs will rise or fall etc. Then on to the next objective.

We spend a lot of time talking to clients about their objectives and how their personal objectives translate into business ones. After all, that is our job – helping clients they get what they want. It’s very worthwhile for us when we see objectives being met or even exceeded.  There’s more on aligning objectives here in a series of short videos.

In the next blog we will see how to make a plan that is simple, flexible and usually works very well.