Finding the Strength to Focus

Reflecting upon the results and feedback from our PUSH Marketing Academy I’ve been thinking about reasons why so many business owners never really plan.

As we all know, the backbone of the UK business economy is driven by micro and SME enterprise; a nation of shopkeepers, as Napoleon once said. For many, the route into a small business comes from a desire to create and own something that gives space for opportunity, a chance to do things your own way and, above all, a shot at simply getting more from life.

It’s also about a belief that you can do things better; how often have you walked away as a consumer thinking “I could run that business better!”..? I believe it’s an equally valid reason to go for it. Ferruccio Lamborghini told Enzo Ferrari that his cars looked great and the engines were sublime but his gearboxes were trash. So Lamborghini, who made tractors, decided to prove that he could do it better… the rest, as they say, is history!

Owning and running a small business can bring great rewards; a creative outlet, strong self-esteem and status, a better standard of living and wealth creation, of course. More millionaires have been made from the sale of home-grown businesses than property sales. More than this though, it’s also about contribution; I’ve met many business owners who have greater pride in the fact that they are creating employment, supporting their local economy and leading the way, rather than just relying upon profits to measure their business success. And a sincere compliment from a customer is often worth more than just the profit in that sale (just don’t try paying your mortgage with it!).

However, the flip side of this, as every small business owner knows, is that self-employment can often mean very long hours, a constant focus on business needs, high stress levels, huge demands on time and emotional energy and even a feeling of constant dissatisfaction; always wanting it to be bigger and better. Well, all this just comes with the territory and you’ll need to expect it if you want to have your own business.

However, I can’t help thinking that some business owners are just making it way too hard for themselves, unnecessarily and that with a little time to step back and reflect, a better plan can emerge that could liberate time, resources and emotional energy, as well as turn up the volume on profits.

A significant mentor in my life always told me that “business should be boring and predictable; get your kicks somewhere else!” What he meant was that when you plan how your business should run, start to treat it like a real business and not a job, then you will have more control over it and an ability to run systems that make everything stack up. Then you can really enjoy your business! This approach means you are truly a business owner and you’ll have the pleasure of being able to step away from it, safe in the knowledge that customers are still being served and that profitable sales are flowing in the direction of your bank account.

So why is it that so many business owners just don’t make the time to properly plan? Well, I believe there are two key reasons:

1. they’re not yet confident enough in their own abilities to set a workable plan

2. they’re so entrenched in the day-to-day running of their business that taking time out to plan seems impossible.

My personal focus is on Marketing Plans; about 80% of the business owners I meet who actually have a business plan have no credible marketing plan. When you consider that good marketing is often the starting point for every sale in every business this is a worrying situation.

So my encouragement to you this week is simple; firstly, stop, take time out, even if this is only one hour in your diary this week and look at your business plan. Do you genuinely believe that it explains clearly enough what your strategy and tactics are for marketing your products or services? Perhaps you don’t yet have a plan. In this case, begin doing a little research and decide why having a plan could make things easier for you. There’s a wealth of free information available out there. Or perhaps talk to a friend, colleague or close business acquaintance who has a business and marketing plan and ask them how it helps. Above all, commit to action, then get some help and support to make it happen.

It could just be one of the most important things you’ll do for your business this year!

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