Are You in Business… or Just Busyness?
If you are like most business owners, you went into business because you are passionate about AND good at WHAT you do… and you wanted the autonomy and financial freedom of owning your own business. You were probably thinking, “as long as I am good at what I do, how hard can it be to make a decent living and support my family?” And you have probably discovered that it is actually harder than you thought.
Here’s the problem…
You may be one of the 97% of small business owners who discover that although you work incredibly hard and your sales seem to be increasing each month, you have little to show for it financially. Perhaps you are already doing well but you are unsure how to accelerate your results or expand your business? Or you may simply be wondering why you are struggling to pay the bills lately even though your accountant says that you are making a good “profit”.
One of the biggest problems is that business owners often convince themselves that being busy is what business is all about. And you tell yourself “as long as I work hard and do my best, there is not much else that I can do”. Everyone knows that we’re supposed to work smarter, not harder, but the challenge lies in knowing HOW to do that. And in the meantime, you may have found it just seems easier to do everything…just in case it’s important, or makes a difference.
So, if you’re supposed to do less, HOW do you figure out what is critical or what will have the biggest impact?
In a typical 8-9 hour day, what percentage of your time and effort has a positive and tangible impact on your bottom line? Do you strategically plan what you will focus your time on or do you just try to cover everything on your to-do list plus whatever emergencies pop up? The bottom line is this, if you cannot read and understand your financials, it is difficult for you to say for sure WHY your business is not as successful as you would like it to be. You may think it is due to the fact that you don’t have enough customers or sales but you could be missing the point completely. In fact, most of the businesses don’t need more customers, they need more cash flow. And cash flow issues can often be fixed without spending a dime on marketing.
And here’s the best part… all of the answers you need are sitting right there in YOUR financial statements. You just need to learn how to unlock the insights and use them to your advantage.
Every day that you put off learning how to unlock the insights in your financials means that you are wasting at least 2-3 hours a day on tasks that are not improving your bottom line. In fact, it could be the sole reason you are not as successful as you would like to be.
This bad habit you have developed –of working way too hard and assuming that success is somehow linked to the amount (not the quality) of work, will take time to break.
Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes when it comes to breaking or establishing new habits. In the 1960’s a highly regarded plastic surgeon, Dr. Maxwell Maltz discovered that it took 21 days for amputees to cease feeling phantom sensations in their amputated limb. From further observations and significant research he established that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. This part of the brain, the limbic system, is a slow learner.
Brain circuits take engrams (“memory traces”) and produce neuro-connections and neuro-pathways only if they are bombarded with new information for 21 days in a row. This means that our brain does not accept new data or information for a change of habit unless it is repeated each day (without fail) for at least 21 days. Changing habits (whether positive or negative) can be done, but it takes time and consistent effort.
Do yourself a favour and identify just one or two steps that you can take each day that will enable you understand what your financial statements are trying to tell you. Make a plan on paper – specific decisions and actions that you can take to move forward in this aspect every single day for the next month. Read a book, speak to your accountant, watch a webinar or spend some time reviewing your statements and comparing the results to last year.
And remember to track your progress each day and find an objective person outside of your business to hold you accountable to your plan, actions and desired results.