In the small business I own, I’ve noticed an ebb and flow through the years -- periods when I am really “on it” and other times when I am either coasting or not as engaged as I need to be. I bet that managed service providers or anyone with a small business goes through the same cycles. Maybe if you read this you’ll snap out of a down cycle and get back on your game. So here goes: 6 Things Small Business Owners Do To Undermine Their Own Success.
I am not going to to focus on what to do about each factor, basically because just noticing the problem is in itself the cure. But if you have other solutions, please comment.
- Get Fried by Their Business. Not much in life is harder than building a successful business–whether it has one employee, 10 or 100,000. Nature does not want your business to succeed. All gravitational forces and systems conspire to kill a new business, so you have to overcome the viruses, diseases and mutations that want to extinguish your venture. Often, small business owners are the business. They play many roles, not necessarily by choice but by necessity. Not everything can or should be delegated early on, or maybe ever. So owners get fried. When you’re toast you can’t be creative. If you are not creative in your business, it is already starting to die.
- Get Bored with Their Business: Since the advent of the supermarket (maybe before), being human has gotten way too easy. A man with a spear and an empty stomach is rarely bored. But our bellies are full and you can’t fit a spear into a Prius, so we’re bored! And distracted. We find it hard to focus on the day to day, nuts-and-boltsy stuff about small business that keep the wheels from coming off. It’s a weird genetic quirk, but for many small business owners the only thing that snaps them out of their boredom and subsequent lack of attention to detail is when their checking account is empty–the modern equivalent of the hungry cave-dweller.
- Start Cutting Corners: When you’re tired and bored in your business, you start cutting corners. You used to maintain meticulous records in your CRM, and now you’re a little less thorough. Your used to review your systems and procedures quarterly to make sure your operating methods were up to date, but it’s been six months since you did your last review. You do a monthly email newsletter but the last one went out seven weeks ago.
- Don’t Follow up with all Prospects Thoroughly and Immediately: A small business owner I know called me twice about her promotional products business. Each time she promised to send me a link with products she had picked out for me. I haven’t heard from her in two months. She worked hard to get me to be receptive and poised to buy something, and then let the ball drop.
- Don’t Follow Up with Existing Customers on a Scheduled Basis: My business doubled when I created a system for follow-up with existing customers. This goes back to the caveman discussion. We like hunting a new bear. But we have a thing about leftovers. It’s nuts! We all know existing customers are more profitable than new ones. They’re just not as exciting to catch.
- Miss the Opportunity to Add Another Product or Service to an Order: There’s a reason we all know the expression, “Would you like fries with that?” We tend to sell the products that we find easiest to sell. Sometimes an ancillary product is not as fascinating to us. Yet by offering it we can increase our sales and marginal profit tremendously. Wonder why we don’t do it every single time?
Contributing blogger Mitch York coaches executives who are evolving into entrepreneurs. Find York — and his personal blog — at www.e2ecoaching.com. Follow MSPmentor via RSS; Facebook; Identi.ca; and Twitter. And sign up for our Enewsletter; Webcasts and Resource Center.