The Challenge is what you’re not doing…

I was talking with a business owner recently and it was clear they had a significant challenge with their business. Overall things are good from a day to day operations basis, but their growth is stalled and if something doesn’t change, there will be a major problem in the near future.

What really stood out in the discussion is that the business growth wasn’t stalled because of something the business owner (or their team) was doing wrong. It’s stalled because of what’s not being done – and that’s probably more common than you might think.

Being a business owner can be exhausting

As a business owner, especially for a small business you are responsible for… well… pretty much everything. If you have a team, and you’re doing things right, then you should have some additional leadership helping you out. But especially for smaller businesses, a lot of the day to day responsibilities will come back to you as the owner.

Which means that you are likely driving the effort to get new customers, then you’re helping to serve those customers, take care of their challenges and finally, it’s likely on you to make sure those customers are paying you and that all of that back-end financial stuff is being taken care.

That’s a lot of work – and it’s a pretty good bet that you aren’t particular good at all of it or at least don’t enjoy all of it.

Which leads us back to the risk and challenge of things that don’t get done.

I know business owners who hate the financial aspects of their business – going through long streaks where they don’t bother with the accounting… and even worse, when they don’t invoice their customers.

Not surprisingly, people don’t tend to pay until they’re invoiced.

I also know business owners who routinely struggle with the marketing aspects of their business. They know there needs to be consistency with getting their message out but things happen, they get busy or they just don’t like to do marketing stuff and those marketing efforts don’t happen (blog posts, mailers, social media posts, newsletters, campaigns).

Not surprisingly, people who can’t see you are less likely to be interested in what you’re doing.

And finally, back to the business owner I met the other day, I know business owners who really don’t like to sell. They have a list of prospects, and in some cases, they even have potential customers who are holding up their hand, but they don’t reach out to them.

People who don’t hear from you aren’t likely to become customers.

Call reluctance isn’t a new thing and it impacts a lot of people but the bottom line is that most businesses need to keep bringing on new customers if they’re going to be healthy – and if there’s not a reliable way for that to happen, you’re going to be in trouble.

What can you do if you’re not doing something?

As they say, the first step in solving a problem is recognizing that you have one. In this particular example, it’s usually pretty clear. Most business owners who struggle with this, know what they’re not doing.

In fact, most business owners who aren’t doing a critical activity will eventually bear down and just do whatever it is that needs to be done. An owner will carve out a couple of days and send out the last 3 months worth of invoices… or they’ll write a bunch of blog posts… or they’ll call those prospects in a flurry of activity.

Those bursts of activity are better than not doing anything, but it’s a small band-aid on a big wound, it’s not really solving the problem.

What’s a better answer?

There are actually 2 options that can help. The first is to find a way to change your perspective on activities that you’re avoiding. Similar to someone who doesn’t like to go to the gym, can you find a way to exercise and turn that into a habit so that it’s sustainable? Maybe block out time every week for the activity that you’re avoiding and do what you can to make it as easy as possible.

Maybe spend some time really digging into why you don’t like to do that activity and see if there’s not some way to address that shortfall. Do you need training? Encouragement? Someone to hold you accountable? It is possible to change, it’s just not easy.

The other option is to find or hire someone who really likes to do the stuff that you don’t like to do (or aren’t any good at). There are a surprising number of people who are really good at things that you don’t like to do… whatever that might be. Could you find one and hire them – maybe even as a part-time or outsourced solution at first?

Hiring the right people is actually the better long term solution for this challenge. It may not be practical initially if you can’t afford the overhead but it is a lot more likely to truly solve the issue. Of course if you can’t afford the overhead you may have to work the first option for a while until you can grow into it.

What doesn’t work is ignoring the problem and not addressing it – whatever big things you’re avoiding doing as a business owner, at some point it’s going to cause you some serious problems.

What do you hate doing… or are just not doing that you know needs to be done in your business? What can you do about it? We’d love to hear your thoughts – leave us a comment below.

Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach