Small Business

You, not governments, are your greatest threat

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The carbon tax may have passed but small business owners shouldn’t lose sleep. Certainly, it’s harder as a small business when left hooks like this come your way, but knowing when and how to weave, bob and duck will contribute to your success. In reality, all small business needs is for government not to make success too hard.

Small business owners already have a big threat to their success — themselves — let alone the taxing roadblocks in the way. Apologies for the tough love, but it's the toughies in business who will make it.

Accept it

But let’s talk more about government for a minute. During the Rudd government, we saw that with the government’s proposed resource super profits tax that the tax was too much of an obstacle for the mining industry and investors to cope with. Fortunately, Labor was able to see it, even if their then-leader couldn’t.

However, everyone in business has to accept that governments can make life hard but they can occasionally make life better. Ask the retailers who did well last year when those $900 cheques were sent out. When the punches do come, small business should be ready to roll with them.

Brand building

I have been asked to travel to some country towns to talk about what holds back small businesses from enjoying success and I will pinpoint a number of areas where a business owner has to be really objective. By the way, the lessons are just as applicable to any employee who wants to build his or her brand, just as a business must.

The areas we all must address are leadership, finances, marketing and customer service.

SWOT yourself

When Jim Collins penned his book Good to Great, he found leadership was the most important factor explaining why great American companies had stood out from the crowd. John Maxwell, who has written many books on leadership, insists you can learn leadership and also argues that to be a good leader you have to lead yourself first.

But how do you do that?

There are many ways to better leadership but I reckon you have to SWOT yourself as a leader. Look at you Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats and this will give you the makings of an action plan.

The goal has to be to get out of your areas of weakness to spend more time in your strength zone. Stop doing the $25-an-hour jobs and start using your time to make your big business dreams come true.

Your action plan has to be to improve you as a leader and make sure it moves you more steps closer to your business goal or dream that has to be written down and shared with the key people you lead in your business.

You can’t allow tightfistedness to get in the way of success and if it means getting an expert in to help, you have to do it. There’s a great line I never forget: “Work out what you want. Find out its price. Pay the price.”

Keep improving leadership

I think you can see why the greatest threat to business or personal success gets down to you. If you’re not prepared to confront the brutal truth, which Collins says was the hallmark of the great business leaders he studied, then you won’t improve.

Maxwell says leadership is all about continual commitment to self-improvement and if you won’t commit to that, you won’t grow as a leader. And people won’t want to work with or follow you.

Sort out cash flow

On finances you have to become a cash flow expert and you should have a great accountant who becomes your business finance coach. Most businesses fail because of cash flow problems and so a smart business leader gets this sorted out, whatever the cost.

By the way employees who don’t have their personal finances sorted invariably can’t advance their career because they’re distracted.

Listen to your customers

The great businesses and employees are customer care experts. They have read all of the books on the psychology of what customers want but the stand out lesson is all about surveying and listening to customers. Then give them what they want.

And once you’ve got your business, products and services right via great leadership, which helps you select the right people who are fully trained to give great customer service with a quality product or service, it becomes easy to market this great package.

Crucial question

Your marketing simply has to answer the most important question a customer wants to know the answer to and that’s: “Why should I buy from you?”

That’s the marketing message you have to put out there to where your customers should be. If your marketing and ads don’t answer this question, well change them.

As you can see, success gets down to making the changes to ensure success and that’s why I say a business owner is the biggest threat to business success, not governments. 

Brutal truth

Tom O’Toole, the famous Beechworth Baker, on my Sky News Business Channel program recently, said: “What you want is just outside your comfort zone.”

For success you have to confront the brutal truth, work out what needs to change and then go for it.

It works for business, careers, getting wealthy and any life endeavour.

Remember, if nothing changes, nothing changes!

If you’re looking to work on your business rather than being stuck in it, book in for a complimentary business assessment today with Switzer Business Coaching.

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published on: Wednesday, November 09, 2011

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