Are you coming out of the aftermath of the recession and feel like you’re starting over? In some ways, this can be demoralising if you were poised for growth before the recession and the very sluggish recovery created so much uncertainty and challenges. You look around and hear of how Ireland is receiving emergency funds or how consumers may hold back on spending during the Christmas season.
And yet, there was a report from the Small Firms Association that small businesses are feeling more confidence in their current and future performances. Anecdotally, I’m hearing that small business owners are aggravated with waiting for something to happen so they are making things happen.
So, maybe you are starting over
…and you might be wondering if you’re ready for all that work again? It doesn’t really matter if you are starting over due to some sort of macro-economic event or not. You could be starting over for all sorts of reasons. Such an event might include a family crisis which necessitates the business owner shifting his or her attention to home or self rather than on the business. Other events might include moving to a new location because of marriage, divorce, spousal job changes or finding one’s dream home. Small businesses are more sensitive to events, particularly when they are either sole traders or small firms of ten people or less. You, the business owner, are intimately involved with the products or services that are being produced. It stands to reason that a business might falter, nearly collapse or even fail completely.
You’re not starting at square one!
Regardless of why you might be starting over, you are not starting at the beginning. It might be close but it’s not the beginning. Here are my five reasons why we’re not starting our businesses over at square one:
1. Your business already exists.
It’s not an idea that may or may not be viable in the market. You’ve learned who your customers are and why they want your products or services. Remember all of the things you had to do when you were in startup phase? You have business cards, brochures, a website, a social media presence and other ways that people will readily find you. You probably even have people who know what you do and are willing to share your contact information to potential prospects.
2. You already have systems in place.
There is some sort of accounting system that you’ve been using. There are organisational systems, time management systems, customer relationships systems and a host of other things you already put in place some time ago. Maybe one or two need to be modified but, overall, they exist. You know the tricks and shortcuts that keep you (and anyone who works for you) productive.
3. You know how to market your business.
Or maybe you’ve learned what not to do. Even if the lay of the land has changed (which is certainly true for some industries after this recession), you know where to network or with whom to meet. Maybe you’re using more social media now so that provides avenues to both share what’s special about your business while building relationships with people. You can even offer a complimentary consultation (or whatever fits your business) to give people a taste test. These are options that already exist because you developed them.
4. You know if you need a coach, a mentor, a consultant, a supportive group or a mastermind group.
Since my business had to start over recently due to a protracted family crisis, I know the gifts any one of these options can bring (I recently hired a coach and I am currently in a mastermind group). As seasoned business owners, we have less patience in spinning our wheels and saying “woe is me”. If we need someone’s professional assistance, we find a way to get it. If banding together with peers who are looking to expand their businesses is inspiring, create a mastermind group. If affordability is an issue, see if you can barter services or arrange a discounted fee. (You can always stipulate that you’ll pay the regular fees when the cash flow is healthy again if it feels like you need to save face.)
Another valuable piece to this is we know the value of accountability. Inertia and fear can get the most ambitious of us on occasion. When we tell someone what we want and need for our businesses, they get excited also and want us to succeed.
5. You know you don’t have to stay stuck.
This may be the most valuable piece of wisdom a small business owner can have. In the early days of our businesses, we struggled with identity, self-belief and business knowledge. I alluded to this in reason #4 but it bears saying it again. Staying stuck doesn’t make us feel capable or competent and it certainly doesn’t pay the bills. Trying new ways of marketing or just getting feedback from a trusted advisor can keep our eyes and ears open, our imagination active and our motivation up.
What would you add to this list of why your business isn’t at square one?