Business stalled? Maybe you’re the problem…

-You don't build a business...

Are you happy with the path that your business is on?  As a business owner are you happy with your life and is it getting better or getting worse? Are you focused on creating a business or making money?

In his book ‘Making Money is Killing Your Business’ – author Chuck Blakeman points out:

“One of the big re-discoveries of old truths for me was that a business is supposed to throw off three things for us, time, money and significance.”

Imagine that concept – your business is SUPPOSED to give you time, money and significance…not just money!  When I got into business coaching (now almost 10 years ago…), the guy who did my initial training made a big impression on me with this statement:

“The purpose of your business is to give you what you want out of life.”

Money is important (there’s an understatement) – your business must make money…at least enough to cover expenses, your income and hopefully some profit after that.  If it’s not doing that, it’s not really a business and it’s also not going to be around for long.

However – your business needs to be delivering more than just money. To Mr. Blakeman’s point – it should be delivering time…time for you to do other things, add value in other ways or just time for you to live and enjoy.  And it should also be delivering significance – giving you (and your employees) a purpose to strive for.  (Hint – that purpose isn’t just making money…).

The problem is that most small businesses are solely focused on making money. The owner is working long hours, constantly fighting fires and frankly just trying to keep their heads above water.  They’re not getting any time…and probably very little significance out of their business…and they’re likely not getting what they want out of life.

Their business is failing them.

Or are they failing their business?

When you start pulling back the covers on why so many business owners are struggling, you’ll find a lot of issues. But you’ll likely find 1 root cause – the business owner isn’t building a business – they’re too busy working and focusing on making money in the short term.

Let me know if this sounds familiar to you – it’s an actual conversation I had recently with a business owner:

Me: “So you’re working really long hours and you don’t have time for the strategic stuff like planning or even going after new clients?”

Biz Owner: “Yes – last week I spent almost a full day doing billing and accounting and I spend a huge amount of time just trying to keep my current customers happy.”

Me: “Why don’t you consider outsourcing your back office work – that sounds like it could free up a lot of your time.”

Biz Owner: “I can’t afford that right now…plus I don’t even have enough time to train somebody else to do that.”

Me: “But if you had more time, couldn’t you land several new clients?”

Biz Owner: “Probably, but I don’t even know how I’d begin to make that happen…”

Like most business owners, this one has their heart in the right place – they do a great job with their clients, they add a lot of value and have several good employees.  However they are NOT going to be able to grow their business, or reclaim their time…or getting to significance unless they change their mindset and approach on how they view their business.

You should be creating a prototype…

Imagine you’ve got a great idea for a product and with a lot of time and diligence you figure out how to create that product by hand. It’s beautiful, it’s functional, people are willing to pay good money for the product you created. It has the potential to revolutionize how people live.

Great job – now what’s your next step? Do you:

A) Get back to work on creating the next product (again by hand)?  or

B) Do you find a manufacturing plant that can mass produce your product cost effectively so you can get it out to your adoring fans?

Unless you really want to be a hands on artist or a craftsman, then you’re going to look into some sort of manufacturing process. Your time will be much better spent figuring out sales channels, partnerships and additional products than heads down personally cranking out the next widget.

Here’s the thing – your business is your product.

Your job…as the business owner, isn’t to create the product for your clients. Your job is to create the prototype and then figure out the best way to have others create the product.  (And this works for service businesses as well as actual products).

This is the path to creating a great business.  You’ll work long hard hours creating your prototype but then your time will free up and you can start using your business to create significance…and when you do it right, you’ll make money along the way. It’s not an easy road by any means – but it’s a lot easier than the endless uphill slog that most business owners face by doing most of the work themselves.

The secret?  You have to choose to create your business, you have to take the time to work ON it… even if that means making less money in the short term. You have to be willing to make the investments needed to free up your time.

Are you building prototypes or are you primarily doing the work?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – send me an email or leave me a comment below.

Shawn Kinkade   Kansas City Business Coach