I want to share something with you, which is responsible for the demise of so many small businesses. I’m also going to show you how to avoid it happening to you.
I witnessed an independent coffee shop self-destruct recently, just as the owner planned it to. Yes, although the owner said he wanted his coffee shop to succeed, his planning was all about failing. He literally (not figuratively) planned for failure.
Planning to fail
The owner set the business up in such a way, that his risk and financial investment was as close to zero as possible. That way, if it failed, his losses would be minimal.
- The scruffy looking building he moved into, stayed scruffy. He refused to fix it up or pay someone to. He said he thought it wasn’t important, even though he was serving people food and drink!
- There was no investment in advertising or promotion. As his coffee shop was located in a small town, at the quietest part of the high street, no one knew the place was there.
- He set the business up legally, so that there would be very little liability when the business failed and very few costs. He wasn’t going to lose his home or go bankrupt when the worst happened. This is smart, unless, as in this case, it was used as a comfort blanket to stop him from trying to succeed.
With no investment in making the business work and no penalty for failing, he did indeed fail – and extremely fast. You see, whilst he was playing at being in business, his hungry competitors outworked him and outsmarted him. Business today is extremely competitive and competing retailers are working damn hard to make their businesses work. Going into that marketplace, without the willingness to work hard or invest the money required, he could never have succeeded.
Giving a business 100%
Every small business owner claims they give their business 100%. What many of them really mean, is that they give their business 100%… of the things they find easy to do. The things that require little risk. The things that keep them from leaving their comfort zones.
- They hire a cheap accountant, rather than a good one. No one can afford a cheap accountant. No one.
- They write their own marketing material, rather than get it written correctly so that it converts readers into clients.
- They automate their social networking accounts, rather than invest the time needed to build relationships with people.
- They ‘save money’ by having a crappy website that loses them business, rather than pay for a great site, which attracts clients.
- They let their business plateau for months or years, rather than invest in the help they need to go to the next level.
- They do 100% of the easy stuff, rather than 100% of what’s required.
The lesson here?
Business has never been more competitive than it is today. As we navigate the worst economy in living memory, it’s not enough to do the easy stuff. Everyone does the easy stuff. It’s easy! It takes courage to invest the time, effort and money required for our business to succeed, but the alternative is to ‘half try’. The demanding marketplace and our hungrier competitors will ensure that ‘half try’ attitude can’t prevail.
Those who succeed
The smartest small business owners have already figured it out. They know that success comes from doing the things, which the majority are not prepared to do. They understand the meaning of, ‘Go hard or go home!’
- They think big, because they know it’s the only way to make big things happen.
- They give it their all.
- They make commitments, then follow them through.
- They take action when it’s easier not to.
- They look for progress, not excuses.
- They make it as hard as possible for their business to fail.
- They work hard. Really hard.
- They know that shortcuts are almost always costly detours.
- They plan their work and work their plan.
- They refuse to starve their business of the resources it needs.
- They leave work each day, knowing they gave it their best.
That’s the mindset you and your business are competing against. That’s the way the best people in every industry operate, including yours.
It’s also the most rewarding way, in every respect, to run a business.