A small business is a boot-strapping business in the beginning. Anything that can be done without huge expense or investment is the underlying motivation in order to realize a profit sooner rather than later. The problem with many business owners' mindsets is that they are more focused on curtailing spending as opposed to making wise investments of their time, resources and money.
Could one of these five misguided mindsets be causing more harm than good in your business?
1. Friends & Family Sweat Equity: Leveraging the talents and resources available through family and friends can be cost-effectively strategic. However, too many business owners view these opportunities as a way of cutting expenses instead of being resourceful. You have a cousin who is a web designer, a son who is an accountant, or a neighbor who does promotional items who owes you a favor. When you approach these resources from a standpoint of them owing you something, then you are already setting yourself up for frustration and failure. Anyone you get involved in supporting your business should be viewed as a valuable resource and treated as such from the get-go. Perhaps the reason that cousin or neighbor can never seem to get around to the "freebie" you are getting is because you aren't valuing what they are actually providing.
2. DIY Everything: How much is doing everything yourself really costing you? Sure, as a business owner you wear all the hats in the beginning. But there comes a time when the best thing you can do for your business and its future growth is to relinquish some of the hats to someone more adept, qualified, efficient and effective. Your time is an asset, a valuable one. If you are spending all of your time in supporting and sustaining roles, then you are losing the ability to income-produce and income-generate more opportunities. Do a time inventory to see exactly what doing everything may be costing you.
3. No Marketing, Just Sales: A sales force without a marketing engine behind it is a farce, not a force. And when you ARE the sales force, it is all the more important that you understand how marketing can be working for you behind the scenes and ahead of your sales effort. The most effective marketing programs require your investment in the beginning and then become a momentum-building asset through leveraging other people, technology and effective communication and outreach to saturate targeted segments in powerful ways. Then when you do have your sales hat on, your job is a lot easier.
4. Expense Versus Investment Mentality: Is an expense mindset costing you the ability to truly grow profitably? When you get into the "I can’t afford" mindset, you are basically forcing yourself into a sustaining or survival mode of operations instead of a growth mode. Growth takes investment. Investment of time. Investment of resources. Investment of money. The key is to know the difference between what is an investment and what is an expense. The five key areas to review and invest when you are trying to grow your operations are: image/marketing; facility/location; training and development; hiring/outsourcing; and technology. Interestingly, for no-growth or negative growth companies, these are the areas they tend to cut when sales slow down as compared to growth-oriented companies that understand that to grow is to know a good investment when they see it.
5. Mass Versus Mindful Appeal: Too many business owners don't dig deep enough into the psyche of their most ideal customers. As a result, the generic appeal gravitates no one into their doors in spite of the money and time spent. Do you know without hesitation who are your most ideal and profitable prospects? If you only "think" you know, that's not good enough. The better you know who is ideal and what makes them ideal, especially in how they think, hw more successful you will be in attracting and retaining them.
If you are suffering from any one of these ill-advised thought processes, then you are most likely cutting corners that are curtailing your business' ability to grow and prosper. To gain an edge in business, you must be willing to go out on the edge in what you are willing to do to get to the other side. After all, isn’t that what makes entrepreneurship so rewarding and exhilarating to begin with?
Sherré DeMao is author of the nationally acclaimed books, 50 Marketing Secrets of Growth Companies in Down Economic Times, www.50marketingsecrets.com, and Me, Myself & Inc., www.memyselfandinc.com, Her column seeks to help business owners build and grow sustainable enterprises and businesses with economic value and preference in the marketplace.