10 Great Ways to Sink your business!


photo by rs-foto 

Not everyone wants to build a business that will grow.  There are people that absolutely love to work really long hours, prefer doing things the hard way and have no plans to ever sell their business or leave it in any shape for anyone else.

There are business owners that enjoy hiring new people for the same positions over and over again – they hate to delegate and they will not tolerate any new ideas.  Positive cash flow is for wimps and profitability isn’t at all important (which is good because they don’t have any).

If this even remotely describes you, then you will definitely want to check out the rest of this post – I’m sure you’ll pick up some tips that can further help you drive your business into the dirt!

1.  Don’t waste your time on a target market!

If you’ve said it once, you’ve said it a thousand times – you sell your product or service to anyone with a pulse and a checkbook.  Let all of your competitors cut back on their chances to sell by artificially creating a ‘target’ market.  Why would you want to focus your efforts when the world is your oyster?

Of course your marketing doesn’t get a very good response, but when you’re selling to 1 billion people, you only need 1% of that marketplace to be rich beyond your wildest dreams.  By definition, you don’t need to know where your buyers are, they’re everywhere and since they all have the common denominator of having a pulse and a checkbook all you have to do is develop benefits that people with pulses are looking for!

2.  I don’t need Goals, it’s all in my head!

In my experience, the fastest way to insure success is to see where you are at the end of the year and then declare that as success.  By not writing down your goals, you can maintain the flexibility you need to navigate the treacherous waters of the marketplace.  By not knowing where you’re going, you are sure to get there!

Sure your employees might not all be rowing in the same direction and in fact they might often be working at total cross purposes to you and each other because they don’t know what you’re trying to do, but considering that goals and strategic planning can take HOURS to do out of the year, it’s clearly worth a lot of inefficiencies and confusion to avoid it.

3.  Do not force your employees into an Org chart!

There’s some crazy theory out there that you should create organizational and accountability charts, but I haven’t seen a chart yet that could illustrate that everyone in the company is expected to do every job (all the time).

Sure it’s important to give people titles – (my cousin is the CFO even though he doesn’t know how to use a spreadsheet or understand any accounting, but it looks great on his card and it makes my aunt happy).  But there’s no reason to tie responsibilities to those titles – if you make everyone responsible for getting everything done, your chances for success are going to go way up.  When we have to get something done, it works best to have every one drop everything they’re doing and then it’s "All Hands on Deck!" – constant emergencies are the secret to getting things done!

4.  Anyone can do any job!

I read this thing the other day about how important it is to make sure you’ve got the right people on the bus!  ;-)  Say what?  I don’t know about you, but I’m running a business, not a travel agency and I am absolutely not going anywhere!

Do you know how hard it would be to get all of the ‘right people’ into the ‘right seats’?    First I would have to define the jobs and skill sets and then I would have to evaluate my employees and make sure they’re using their strengths and doing stuff they’re good at.  Sure it might improve my productivity by 80% or more, but who has the time to get all of that done?  Besides, by just slapping anyone into any job, I get the chance to hire lots of new people – my turnover isn’t as high as Sprint’s, but I’m getting close!

5.  Manage by the seat of your pants!

I’m a huge fan of intuition.  When I’ve got a good feeling about my business, even the fact that I don’t have any money in the bank isn’t going to bother me!  There’s this guy that I network with that has this ‘dashboard’ that he gets every week from his employees.  I guess they’ve wasted a lot of time figuring out all of the metrics and numbers that drive his business so he can spend 1/2 hour per week and really know what’s going on with his business.   (what a waste of time!).

Where’s the intuition in that?  Where’s the creativity?  I’ll have to ask him more about it when he gets back from his 4 weeks of vacation in Hawaii – I wonder how he was able to swing that?

6.  All you need is a great Product (or Service)!

Things are going a little slowly in the sales department right now, but I know it’s just going to be a matter of time before my sales take off like a rocket!  I’ve got this great product / service and I know it’s only a matter of time before my customers figure out how to buy from me.

My sales people are milling around trying to figure out how to make things happen, but that constant aimless activity – especially the cold calling – is going to be what blows the lid off this thing any day now.  It’s a little odd that none of our current sales have come from those cold call efforts but I don’t need to know why or how people are buying because I have a great thing to sell.  Those people that waste all of that time and money figuring out why their customers are buying (and then do more of that) just crack me up. 

We’re going to stick with what we know and the customers are going to adjust to us!

7.  Make up your processes as you go!

I really enjoy solving problems and when you have to get something done, it’s like solving a big problem.  We need to create a proposal!  We need to follow-up with the customer!  We need to pay our suppliers and avoid the late fees this time!

Every one of those situations is like a new problem that we get to solve every month.  What makes it really fun is that we generally end up solving it a different way almost every month.  Of course the customers complain sometimes when we forget to do some things…and it does take us about a year to get new people up to speed (and then they seem to quit…), but that’s a low price to pay for the chance to solve all of those new puzzles!  Every day is a long, long day of fun!

8.  Make sure you touch everything personally!

I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying "If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself".  Never has a truer statement been spoken.  Sure you have to have employees once your business gets to a certain size, but that doesn’t mean you need to let them actually have responsibility for anything.  Here’s the secret – don’t let anything go out the door without you spending a lot of time reviewing it.  Hopefully you’ll find a lot of things that are done right, just not the way you’d do them and you can send them back and have them done over.

I had a boss once that had this great way of doing this.  He’d tell me that he wanted a certain document and then when I gave him one of those, he’d send it back and say it was wrong – bring him a different one!  He didn’t waste time telling me what was wrong!  That was the beauty of it, I just got the opportunity to keep trying and hoping that I accidentally landed on what he was looking for.  It was a
t of fun for everyone and it made everything we did take a lot longer!

9.  Keep your head down and work IN your business!

The secret to getting a lot of stuff done is to work really long hours and make sure that every minute of that time is focused on the day to day emergencies and issues of the business.

Whatever you do, don’t waste your time looking at the big picture or figuring out what’s important to do or not to do.  Even if you can save weeks worth of work with some simple planning and prioritizing, that couple of hours you ‘wasted’ doing that planning is totally gone – you can’t get it back.  Besides that, as the owner it’s really important that you look heroic to the rest of your staff – make sure you let them know that you’re working 60 – 70 hours every week and proudly tell them that you don’t ever see that changing!

10.  Never, ever get any help!

You probably don’t need this one – it’s way too obvious, but just in case, if you really want to sink your business, make sure you do it completely on your own.  Whether you’ve got an MBA or just great experience from the school of hard knocks, it’s extremely unlikely that you could learn anything from anyone else.  What possible use would it be to have a different perspective?  Other people won’t be nearly as emotional as you are – how could they see anything you don’t already know.

Remember – it’s your business and you are the absolute expert.  Whether it’s a business coach or some kind of Peer Group Advisory Board or even just some sort of ‘Mastermind’ group – all they can do is give you great advice, new ideas, support and encouragement and some accountability and focus.  Who would need any of that?

What things are you doing to sink your business?  I’d love to hear your comments here.

Shawn Kinkade   Kansas City Business Coach