Business eating into life? Not performing as expected? Worse yet, no positive change on the horizon? Hearing stories of family business owners excited by their business ideas can sound like a fairy tale. There are some things you should know about success stories.
First, you seldom hear about their struggles. Success seldom happens just by being in the right place. Every successful business will have their struggles too - they're just not usually part of the public story - but are an important part of growth.
Second, success also doesn't come instantly. We all know about Pokemon Go's dramatic "instant" success - but if you follow that story backwards, it was a very long time in coming together. Most businesses never achieve their potential. That doesn't mean you can't grow your business rapidly - but slow and steady often achieve better long-term results.
Third, very few successes are solely the result of one person's effort. If you haven't read it, Michael Gerber's "The E-Myth Revisited" identifies three skill-sets needed in every business. Two of these (entrepreneur and manager) are diametrically opposed personalities - no normal person can be both. This doesn't mean they can't act as both - but they won't make the best of the opportunities. You don't have to have it all within the business - you can have family and friends who can help - or you can get outside help.
So take a fresh look at your situation. Even that is easier said than done. For a start, if you own a business, you have a lot of pressure on your time. We often use the phrase "working on the business rather than in the business". Most of us don't have (or rather don't prioritise) time to work on the business.
When we're engrossed in the business it can be hard to see things with fresh eyes. His wife and I had tried to convince a business owner about part of the business without success. It was only when we tackled a different issue (vision) that he suddenly saw how that part of the business (his personal favourite) was adversely affecting performance.
Where are you going?
and how will you know when you get there?
There is another important step before you jump in and make changes to your business. Having identified the key issues, how are you going to measure the effects of the proposed changes? You must identify some KPI's (key performance indicators) so that when you have made changes, you can measure their effectiveness. Sometimes the results aren't what you expected. That doesn't mean scrapping the idea. It may need several tweaks before you're happy with the results. This process is not like a recipe. Every business has different owners, objectives, markets, tools and so on. All of these can be combined in various ways - some of which are "better" than others. You have to find what works for you.
KPI's can be a bit overwhelming when considered as a whole - but when you are working with them in an area, you should be able to monitor say two or three KPI's to measure progress. For example, "profit" or "cash" are not KPI's. If you're measuring sales, you might measure calls made and conversion rate. Then if you're not making enough calls, you can improve that (and improve your business). But if your calls aren't achieving the targeted conversion rate, you need to look at that issue. Either issue is more measurable and manageable than simply profit - or even sales.
Deciding on KPI targets is not an easy matter. Apart from different industries and roles having different factors, even similar successful businesses might focus on different KPI's because of the different people involved. KPI's are not just for a period while you're getting an area under more control. They should stay in place so that seemingly small changes affecting your profit can be identified early, and action taken. Even strong areas of your business should have KPI's developed. Should they have issues at a later stage, these will be identified at an early stage and action can be taken.