Want a Successful Business? Get Out Of Your Own Way First
Business owners often think they’re the only ones who know what’s right for their business. I disagree.
I think the reason many businesses plateau or decline is because:
a) owners are too close to their business and can’t see what’s really going on inside the organization and;
b) they refuse to admit they aren’t good at every aspect of running the business.
I’ve just realized these two facts about myself. And it’s been a painful, but necessary, journey. I have, effectively, “Gotten In My Own Way.”
Let’s start at the beginning to get the full story
When you first start your business, out of necessity you have to do everything- marketing, sales, accounting, HR, the list goes on.
You do them, and you do the best you can, because that’s just how it has to be.
As the years go on, business owners continue doing the same, but the truth is, there are often many aspects of the business they aren’t very good at. And they’re too close to the business to realize they aren’t very good. There’s also the “myth” of trying to do it all, which I addressed in a prior post as well.
After much agonizing soul-searching, frustration, crying, screaming and railing against the world, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only thing preventing my business growth is me.
Why? Two reasons:
- I can’t look at the business as an outsider to find the gaps, holes, problems, etc.
- There are aspects of my business I am not good at.
Admitting this has been absolutely brutal. Oh My God- the pain is similar to dental surgery without anesthetic. Or any surgery without anesthetic for that matter. The fact remains- it F-ing hurts.
I came to this conclusion over the past few months
And let me tell you the last two months I have been a BITCH. No need to sugarcoat it- I have been unbearable. Perhaps to the outward observer, it may not have been as noticeable, but I was rapidly getting to the point I didn’t like myself, because I couldn’t get it done. I was frustrated, stymied, just plain mad.
And the end result of that can only be unhappiness and anxiety. And I’m NOT that person. I didn’t want to be THAT person.
I was making everyone around me miserable. My staff, my family, but most of all myself.
Here’s some of my realizations about myself- if you’re a business owner this could be a wake up call for you too
- I lack the skill to properly design systems/processes for my agency to reach its profit making potential and implement those systems. I’ve cobbled together several things over the past year, but I’ve never done a full assessment of what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and what we can do it reach our maximum potential. And you know what? I don’t know how or want to.
- Copywriting is not my strong suit.
- I am not the best at motivating my staff to achieve buy-in to adopt processes or change attitude.
- I don’t know everything I need to know about turning online/digital marketing into actual sales. In fact, I’m sorely deficient at this. And hey, I’m in business to make money. It’s how I eat, have a home and am able to do certain things in my life. Kind of important.
- I don’t know how to structure email campaigns to move people off the needle and make the first move. From copy to number of emails to timing, I don’t have a clue. And I don’t have the time or energy to learn. And even if I did, would it be the best use of my time? (a critical question ALL business owners must answer)
There’s a boatload of other social media/management/marketing skills I’m not strong in, but you get the point.
How hard has it been to admit all of this? Excruciating really. But also quite liberating. Because once I admitted it, a sense of relief came over me. It’s like I was saying to myself, “OK Carrie, you can quit pretending and spinning your wheels now.”
Here’s the solutions I came up with to “Get Out of My Own Way”
I’ve hired people who can do all of the things I mentioned above. THEY know. THEY are the experts. I lack the time and ambition to learn all of the above. And quite honestly, why should I have to?
My expertise is as follows: insurance and writing. I have spent 18 years getting really good at insurance. It’s my craft. I can explain complicated terms and situations in ways customers can understand. I humanize it, make it less scary. I can analyze policies, find gaps, tie it all in to claims and communicate my results. I am damn good at it. I am not bragging. This is fact. And I am very proud of these facts.
And over the past 5 years, I’ve managed to be able to tell a pretty decent story through my writing. I can teach, make you feel emotion, take action, and overall, connect with youe via my words. Yes, I’m DAMN proud of this. I’ve got a gift for words and am forever grateful my audience keeps reading, makes valuable comments and share posts to their own community.
So I will keep doing the things I’m good at. And enjoy.
What If You Can’t Afford to Hire People?
Then my suggestion is to hop online and build your network. The barter system is alive & well. If you build your community online and genuinely help other people, then you’re in a much better position to offer to exchange services in the future. Now, I’m not suggesting you follow a person who specializes in what you need help with, and the first message you send asks if they can help you with XYZ.
That’s like walking up to someone the first time, shaking their hand and immediately asking, “Want to buy this widget from me?” (avoid this situation by reading a prior post of mine– it’s a personal favorite)
But when you make genuine connections with others and build that relationship over time, the likelihood you can help each other’s business is significantly increased. I’ve done this. I’ve witnessed it. I’ve reaped the rewards. Here’s a great post from my friend Ryan Hanley on Audience Building 101.
The moral here: business owners, if you’ve ever felt or been feeling like I have recently, I bet it’s because you’re having a similar experience. So take my advice- Want a Successful Business? Get Out Of Your Own Way First.
Difficult? Hell yeah.
But absolutely crucial for you to reach the next level. If I can do it, you can too.