During times of economic unrest, the tightening of purse-strings is a common tension felt. For small business owners, watching every penny is an everyday occurrence. The current economic climate has nothing to do with it. It has more to do with how we think about money and its role in business. If you believe that money is the only resource you have, then you have just closed many doors in growing your business the smart way.
There are actually four resources in your business which should be used wisely. These resources are people, time, technology, and money. All of these resources should be considered and allocated and not just during an economic wake-up call. In order to help you better understand and allocate these resources, let’s look at each of them.
1. Time: An asset that is consistently undervalued even though everyone wishes they had more of it is time. One aspect of an entrepreneur’s time is in relation to where it is spent under the guise of creating more business. In research conducted among high growth entrepreneurs, they were strategically involved in two or three organizations on boards or committees. Want to guess how many organizations the stagnant or no-growth entrepreneurs were involved? Whenever I ask this of a group I am speaking to, the answer is unanimously zero. The research indicated that the no-growth business owners were involved in five or more organizations. They were literally volunteering their profits away. Clearly not a good use of their time. High growth business owners know exactly where they are going to be involved even before they join an organization or cause. They also see the exponential value of getting employees involved strategically.
2. People: When considering the people who should be involved in your business, you should look at the money that is not being made. One of the biggest pitfalls that entrepreneurs fall into is not hiring when they should, so their time is being spent on necessary, but non income-generating activities. Typically, a business owner will wait until a critical, near breaking point of stress to hire that first employee or that first manager in their business. People are not just to be looked upon as someone you bring on as an employee. People can also mean other companies and their people going to work for you … payroll, cleaning, bookkeeping, answering service, delivery, accounting, legal, marketing, training, IT support, and the list goes on. What are you doing that you shouldn’t be doing? What are your employees doing that is keeping them from income-generating activities?
3. Technology: You can either be a slave to technology or it can be a powerful operational and marketing support to your business. High growth companies are completely sold on technology as a means of doing business. How can technology make your business better, serve your customers more effectively, or make operations run more smoothly? Our virtual society allows us to connect in a multitude of ways to conduct business wherever we are. Best of all, employing the right technology will allow you to use your time and people resources more effectively.
4. Money: We tend to get stuck in an all or nothing frame of mind when it comes to money; therefore aspects of the business get put on hold as a result. How can you actually make your money work more effectively for you in your business? What about identifying someone seeking to do the same? Then you share the expense. Another area in a business where money is a factor all too often is marketing. So many aspects of marketing are about leveraging people, time, and technology, not just money. How can you share the marketing expense with another going after the same market? How can you build a strong network outside of your customer base touting your business throughout the marketplace? How can you utilize technology and windows of time of people in your company so that marketing becomes an everyday operational part of your business? Answer these questions and you have just exponentially increased your ability to be successful in marketing your business beyond what money can buy.
5. Being Open: Probably the biggest success indicator in effectively leveraging the four resources you have to deploy in your business is your open-mindedness. Without being open to the possibilities, you will stay stuck in believing that money is what is holding you back from accomplishing what you are setting out to do in your business. The true bottom line for you and your business is once you get out of the money-trap mindset, you begin opening up yourself and your business to a wealth of opportunities.
So, look around and start putting ALL of your resources to work for you.
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.