If you’re a new entrepreneur and you’re struggling to get your business to the next level, you’re probably doing at least one of these four things wrong. It’s not a criticism; it’s just the simple truth. I’ve learned a lot in my 10 years as a CEO and as a founder of dozens of businesses. I know because I’ve been in your shoes, and a lot of the time, I learned these lessons the hard way.
The good news is that there are some simple steps you can take to address these pain points, reinvigorate your business and ultimately succeed. This first pain point is probably the number one issue I deal with when I consult with executives. It is also something I’ve been guilty of in the past. If you don’t solve any other problem, let it be this one.
I talk about this extensively in my book, The CEO’s Mindset. If you want your company to be successful, you cannot do every job. The first step is to figure out what you’re really, really good at. When you’ve identified that, you’re halfway there.
Let’s say you’re great at marketing and sales. Most CEOs are. If marketing and sales is your sweet spot, why are you bogging yourself down trying to read financial reports? It takes time away from what you can best contribute, and it undermines the responsibility of your accountant. To be truly successful, you have got to let people who are better than you at different areas of the business attack their tasks in their own way.
In every business, there are key performance indicators (KPIs) that you, as the owner, must know. You should absolutely be receiving reports on your daily, weekly, monthly and annual progress. But that information needs to be clear, concise, and easy for someone who doesn’t have a finance degree to understand.
Together, with your finance department, establish the most important KPIs for your business. Set a scale for variations in the positive and the negative. Make sure that positive variance is in green and negative in red. Your eye is drawn immediately to potential problems and you can intervene right away, rather than down the line when you’ve lost money. Cutting the fat and making reports simpler is a process that will take time with your team. Ultimately, though, it will save you lost hours and help you make more money.
Nine times out of ten, this is a problem of too much planning and not enough action. I tell my clients all the time: just pick ONE thing, and take action to get it to market. You could have a whole line of products in development, but your end customer doesn’t have even one of them in their hands. The biggest factor for generating sales is making sure your product or service is top notch, that you are filling a viable need in the market, and that you ensure your potential customers know about it.
So much of sales and marketing is trial and error. You won’t know what works until you try something. A lot of sales people will tell you they close a different way with each and every client. You can always change up marketing campaigns and sales techniques—that part is easy. What’s hard is getting a product out there and then listening for customer feedback to make it better. Don’t overthink it. Just get the product out.
This is so important. So many businesses hire people only for their competence, without thinking about how their personality and values will fit in with the company. A person with your ideal background who doesn’t share your company values will be a bad employee. Every time.
It is vital for business owners to ask the right questions in the interview. Competence is the easy part. Their CV should tell you a lot, and the rest you can screen with a short skills test in the applicable job area. The questions you need to focus on are the ones that give you a sense of who the person is. What do they care about? Are they motivated? Do they believe in what your business is trying to achieve? These are the questions that will place the right person in the role.
I could talk on and on about how important these factors are for the success of your business. My number one goal is to help business owners untrap themselves in order to take their organizations to the next level. To learn more about how to solve these pain points and grow your business, read my book, where I cover these areas and more in greater detail, along with useful exercises to help you build a better foundation for your business.