The Wake Up Call - Is Your Business Situation Forcing You To Take Action?
It's a little like your business. When everything gets foggy and we are stuck in a ruck, the simplist tasks seem like hard work. Someone may ask for a paper clip and all of a sudden it's like they have just asked you to have your tooth taken out.
Most business owners have had a 'wake up call' that has made them stop in their tracks, think about what they are doing and then change their course of action.
Fortunately, I have had many and I say that this is fortunate because if it is early on in your business, hopefully you learn the lessons and move forward so when your business is maturing, you have been there and done that.
My first big lesson occurred when I had a business partner who I started my first business with. She was great for emotional support but was basically my personal assistant and the accounts person who owned 50% of the company and worked half the amount of hours I did because she wasn't capable of doing the work I had brought in from my connections. In the end, it fell apart and I think it is safe to say, we both went our own ways and ended up better people for it and more fulfilled.
A lesson that I did not learn was from the recruitment process in my endeavour to hire the best marketing consultants in Australia. I get why people outsource this role however like many outsourcing situations, you don't really know how good a company is until they have achieved a few wins on the board with your company. I hired the wrong people for the wrong jobs, over and over again. I didn't investigate their backgrounds well enough and kept people on for too long that were poisonous to the business. It took 12 years to get this one right, but now I have a team of outstanding individuals, all working towards the same goals that produce work of the highest standard. They fit the culture of the organisation and are trusted to run the company while I am away overseas expanding the business.
The third big lesson that I have only been able to get a handle of in the past 12 months is finance. I am great at bringing in business, but in Australia there are so many loopholes whereby it costs more to sue people who don't pay their bills then it does to let it go, that we have $400k outstanding in 90 days. That's huge for a small business. However, in the past 12 months, that has been changed with no outstanding invoices and a new philosophy - "if you don't pay, we won't work for you".
Now, I don't have business partners per se, just investors. I don't have anything at all to do with the recruitment process because clearly this is not my skill base. And, money is king and everybody deserves to get paid for the quality services they provide. Some people are not good people and they just don't pay their bills. In business it should always be a win-win for both parties. Your client needs to win and you need to win.
There are so many positives to running a small business, but its the lessons we learn along the way that make us better business people and capable of taking our businesses to the next level.
Sometimes challenges seem to be overwhelmingly insurmountable, but if we take them as a 'wake-up' call and take action, we will come out the other side smarter, better and ready to take our businesses to the next level.
Mellissah Smith, Atlanta.