As a business owner, it’s second nature to want only the very best for your business. Most of the people I’ve encountered are no strangers to late nights, sacrifices and long, long, hours in pursuit of making their dream a reality. Despite that, there are some common blind spots that can make the whole endeavor much more difficult than it needs to be. Usually we’re not even aware of the blind spots and almost always they are based on an incorrect assumption or core belief and not on fact. Here are 5 of the most common assumptions that tend to hold business owners back from achieving the true potential of their businesses as quickly as they could be. If after reading this you realize that any of these are true for you, congratulations! That is the first step to freedom. So read with an open mind and a willingness to catapult your venture to the next level!
If I’m good at what I do, the rest will just happen
This is a close cousin to “do what you love and the money will follow” and results when someone starts a business based around an area of extreme strength. For example, starting a computer consultancy based on your IT prowess, or a carpentry shop based on your woodworking wizardry. It’s necessary to have expertise in your business’s core competency, but not having access to a level of proficiency in all the other skills necessary to start a business makes it exceedingly difficult (if not impossible to succeed). Business planning, human resources and other areas of compliance, accounting, and marketing are just a few examples of things that absolutely do NOT just happen and DO put your business at risk of failing miserably if not planned and executed effectively.
My employees will naturally care as much as I do
If you have employees, part of your job is always going to be helping them care about your business. No one is ever going to care as much as you because no one has as much at stake as you. That doesn’t mean they won’t care at all though, just that you are going to have to be intentional about it all the time. Factors that lead to employees caring (i.e. engagement) are constant communication, understanding their part, the opportunity to operate in one’s giftings, receiving sincere appreciation and recognition and being part of a mission that is in alignment with one’s values are all powerful motivating factors – but they never ‘just happen’.
I can do it myself
This is usually the hardest ones for entrepreneurs to overcome for many reasons. Most people with the guts and ambition to start their own businesses are by nature reluctant to ask for help. We usually feel like we should be able to do it ourselves and, if we have not started to recover from our perfectionism (which we must if we are to enjoy our success) then we may have low tolerance for delegation because it’s not done as well as we would do it ourselves. Add to that the fact that start up businesses often do not have large cash reserves to spend on outside resources and it is very tempting to try to wear all the hats. Well, resist that temptation! As an example, when my husband started his fitness business and I started my HR consultancy, we were confident in our abilities to get people fit, and to coach and train them in HR and management (respectively) and because of our backgrounds we had no issues developing our business plans and structures. However, we agreed we would be stark raving lunacy to attempt to take on the accounting functions of our businesses. This is just not in either of our wheelhouses and to spend time and mental energy on it made no sense. Not only would we probably fail and risk a ton of fines, but we also have much better uses for our time and mental energy. So we found an amazing CPA (let me know if you’re looking for one)
Outsourcing is too expensive
This assumption usually so well-entrenched that business owners don’t even think of it as an assumption so much as a fact, but I would challenge you to rethink it. It’s usually far more expensive (both in hard dollars and in emotional capital) NOT to engage an expert to do the things that are out of your core competency. They will always get it done more efficiently than you could. Recruiting is a great example of this. It is much more cost-effective for my clients to have me develop job descriptions, post ads, screen and pre-qualify candidates so that they are only spending their valuable on the most qualified 2-3 candidates. And by the same token, when my clients are hiring 10 candidates or more a month it is a huge win for everyone if we use my partner, Source2, rather than spend a ton of money on staffing or search firms, or lose the speed by going with a smaller shop.
My managers can get all the help they need from me
This is the assumption that stops business owners from getting coaching and training for their team. Now granted, I will allow that you can absolutely teach them about your core business better than I, a management consultant or coach can. But I would also argue that you don’t have the time and energy to spend developing a curriculum, assessing your team’s core strengths and weaknesses, creating a development plan and then executing that plan. Best case scenario you are giving them regular feedback on their performance (and to be honest, that doesn’t happen all that much in smaller businesses because you’re too busy) but if you really want your managers to understand their legal obligations, to productively deal with employee relations issues, to coach people to their best levels of performance, you need to realize that you can’t do that alone.
In conclusion, if you own a business and are operating under one or more of these assumptions I will bet you 1 night of sleep that you are not enjoying as much profitability or peace of mind that you could be. So consider re-assessing how you investing your resources and make sure your time, emotional capital, and money is being spent in the most effective, efficient and productive way possible!