Before reading this post, locate the notes you made last time when I asked you to jot down the 3 main issues you have to deal with as a small business owner.
Many issues will land on the plate of every small business owner – it can sometimes seem little or no fun running your own business. The 3 most common issues that I have found continually consuming owners’ thoughts are sales, cash and time. Were these the three that you jotted down?
Sales. You may have sales, but not always enough every month to cover all your outgoings. There’s not a lot you can do to speed up the buying cycle. This will certainly be the case if your prospects ever detect you are desperate for their orders. If they do, they are likely to put an extra squeeze on you to give even more concessions in return for their order.
What you actually need are more qualified prospects looking seriously at buying your products/services. Knowing what a qualified prospect looks like will help you to improve the quality of your sales opportunities. Attracting more of them will inevitably lead to more sales, in time. Your current lack of sales is likely to be caused by poor performances in lead generation and prospect qualification.
Cash. Growing a business of any size consumes cash. Small businesses are particularly susceptible to running out of cash. Delayed invoice payments from existing clients and suppliers demanding fast payments can soon destroy your cashflows. Running your business without constantly monitoring your cash balances can quickly lead to a funding crisis as outgoings outstrip incomes. With little or no cash reserves, small businesses can soon become insolvent and looking for additional funding from shareholders.
Time. Unlike sales and cash, which will vary from business to business, every small business owner gets 168 hours each week. Many will highlight they have too little time to do what needs to be done. They are often operating under pressure and this causes them to rush everything. Small business owners should analyse where their time is spent. Many who claim to have insufficient time will probably find valuable time being spent on unimportant tasks, meaning urgent tasks are being rushed as deadlines loom.
Of course, rushing urgent tasks will inevitably lead to errors being made. The same people who didn’t have enough time to do the job properly, always find time to do it again to put right their errors. Doing a job twice will usually take more time and cost more than it would to get it right first time.
- Adopt the philosophy of “right first time”. Eliminate all re-work from your business.
- Avoid the temptation to focus on small, easy tasks. Prioritise and spend time on those important tasks that only you can do efficiently. Delegate those important tasks that others can do as well or better than you.
- Only sell to people who are likely to buy from you (obvious?). Apply your prospect qualification criteria to every new prospect. Don’t waste time with people who fail to meet your qualification criteria.