Stagnation comes in two forms; business and personal. For most people these two considerations are completely separate, but for a business owner these two issues often go hand-in-hand. The challenge is how can you avoid burning out and keep your business growth moving in the right direction.
Continuing our deep dive into topics covered in a Q&A with Barbara Corcoran, Entrepreneur and Shark Tank Judge. (Read the full Q&A here) I want to explore viable solutions to fight stalling out personally and professionally.
Barbara’s quick answer to the question covers a primary cause stagnation for small business owners (exhaustion) and how you can reignite your love of your business to keep moving forward.
“Stagnation happens when you’re working too hard, doing too many of the same less enjoyable things at the office, contending with one bad customer or employee that drains you, or you haven’t had a vacation in awhile. When you feel stuck mentally, it’s impossible to move your business ahead, so it’s time to take a break, regroup, and get rid of the stuff you don’t like doing. Everyone knows what they don’t like so ask yourself the question, ‘who do I know that could take over this task/responsibility for me?’ There’s always someone, but you need to step back to see it and figure it all out.”
I know, as the wife of a business owner, it’s hard to find time to take a break or delegate parts of your day-to-day. Sometimes this means spending money to make money by hiring an employee to take some of the work associated with the operation of your business off your plate. Or simply passing control of a particular responsibility or two to an existing employee. It’s challenging to entrust any amount of control in your business to someone else and give up your in-depth knowledge of every aspect of your business to someone who isn’t you. But realize, as your business grows; you, as the business owner, need to focus on the bigger picture and the areas that your enjoy.
In addition to Barbara’s advice, here are 5 tools to keep you, your employees, and your business fired up.
1. Don’t ever get comfortable. As the business owner, you are responsible for driving your company vision forward. Once you find yourself satisfied with the status quo take that as a sign to move onto the next stage of growth in your business and never allow your business coast along. If you adopt this attitude you will constantly develop new goals and new challenges, which can invigorate your creativity as passion as a business owner. Businesses seem to face either growth or atrophy. It’s the rare business that can survive at the status quo for very long.
2. Keep Up With Your Competitors. If you stay on top of your competitors, you can continually improve your business in two ways. 1: You know what they are doing and can can take actions to stay ahead. For example, if all of your competitors have new shiny websites, you should think about how your company looks online. 2: Take that same knowledge and find where they are making mistakes and pick up the slack. If your competitors don’t have a product or service you offer, highlight that product and show how you’re the better choice.
3. Dive deep into everything your company is doing. Much like the show “Undercover Boss” (one of my faves) Take one week to visit each department of your company (big and small) and get back in the weeds. I know that you used to know all the ins & outs of every aspect of your business, and you may have lost touch with the nitty gritty details. Use this as an opportunity to regain an understanding of what’s going on every day across the company.
4. Regularly talk with your top employees and managers in the company to work together to create new ideas. Pull your most creative minds in a room, regardless of work experience or time with the company. No rules, no pressure, and see what comes out. If you build an open culture and make a path for the best ideas to come forward, your business’ success will no longer solely depend on you and your ideas. The more, the merrier! Plus, giving your employees the chance to have a real impact on the forward momentum of the business allows them to feel ownership within the company and stay excited about their jobs.
5. Reach out to your clients and see what they’re missing. Pick up the phone and talk with your customers. Their satisfaction is the key your success. Not only because they can give great referrals, but because they know your company, your products, and your weaknesses. Offer them a coupon or some incentive in return for their time and insights. If you make your customers feel valued, they’ll give you the knowledge you need to get ahead.