How many times have you looked in the mirror and found a flaw? If you say never, good grief, what planet do you live on? Most of us are self-critical, sometimes to the point of being oblivious to what makes us unique. We seem to have a beast inside bent on bellyaching about our multiple deficiencies. Do you obsess about being too tall or not tall enough? Too thin or too heavy? Not pretty/handsome enough? Too pushy? Not pushy enough?
You have your list and so do I. Do you apply that self-critical flaw-finding attitude to your business?
When you add your own night terrors to this list do you start to sweat? Are you on the brink of throwing in the towel, going to bed and covering up your head? STOP! Before you lie down with a cold compress – or knock back a numbing libation – get a grip! Perhaps you’re thinking is getting in the way of your business success.
Challenges are real. There is something to be said for critical evaluation. SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis exists for a reason. The list above clearly represents the outcome of looking at weaknesses.
So how do you bring your future, the future of your business and the future of your community’s economy into perspective? Let the bellyaching beast of negativity off its leash and listen up. Evaluation does not mean you must find every flaw. Yes, you need to know what your weaknesses are, but also be certain you know and embrace your strengths. I may only be five foot tall and nowhere near thin, but anyone who knows me will tell you it has rarely held me back, even when standing still might have been wiser.
After hearing the bellyaching beast whining and begging for the scraps of uncertainty and fear left behind in the wake of your mental self-abuse, give him his freedom, open the door and let him go. When you see his tail wagging as he crests the horizon, take pen in hand and write down why your skills, services or business benefits others. It is freeing. It reminds you of your successes and puts the bad times in perspective.
As an entrepreneur you should take stock from time to time. Go somewhere quiet, where you will be able to think uninterrupted. Take a notebook and pen. There is something to be said for the tactile feel of the implements in your hand as you see your entrepreneurial spirit come to life through the words flowing onto the page.
I started this business/service (aside from money) because____________.
There is never any one reason entrepreneurs go into business. While earning a profit is likely at the top of the list there are other compelling reasons that fired and inspired you to put out your shingle. Name those reasons. Embrace them.
My business/service is unique in these ways_____________.
If you don’t have a response to this perhaps it’s time to think carefully about what you offer that no one else does, or think of an add-in that will make you stand out from the crowd.
Investing in my business through promotion has value because_________.
There is a rule of thumb that you should commit a percentage of your annual income to advertising and promotion. I would add, use that money wisely and well. No matter how much you want to support every publication and cause that “represents youth,” consider what you do in context of your business success. There are other ways to donate that don’t involve spending your much-needed promotional dollars.
My business has loyal customers. I’m going to reward them by______________.
When was the last time you e-mailed, called or in some way communicated with your customers? It’s less expensive to retain a satisfied customer and get them to buy again than it is to draw new customers to your door. And remember this – activity begets activity. If you have your old customers coming in the door, new customers will follow.
I will make sure my employees like their jobs and convey that to our customers.
If your employees aren’t on your side and don’t enjoy their jobs it will show in your bottom line. Take care of your employees (even if the only employee you have is you). If employees are not confident in their ability to take care of customers, if they feel inadequate, if they feel you don’t care about them, they will not do their best. They will do the minimum and not very well.
I will participate actively in associations that advocate for independent entrepreneurs.
Belonging to a business association is an opportunity for networking, yes, absolutely. Aside from that, you have something to offer. What can you contribute that will improve/promote all businesses? Rising water lifts all boats. Be part of the rising tide.
I will post a list of my business successes where I can see it every day, beginning with the day I opened, my first success.
Remember your successes. That first big sale. Meeting your first payroll (including paying yourself!). The “thank you” from a customer who benefited from your service. Keep track of the positive influence and impact your business has had and continues to have.
When business is stagnant or beginning to slide, remember this is a bump in the road, not a wall. Small business continues to be the backbone of the economy. Your success determines the health of the local economy and the national economy. Take time to celebrate your entrepreneurial strengths. It will be good for you, and it will be good for your business.
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