…or at least cause excessive stress while trying to fulfill it.
This post is for all founders, entrepreneurs, small business owners who decided to jump into the pool of their dreams by starting a business.
Call us crazy – we have 4 in our immediate family – 3 “employee-based” multi-million dollar businesses. We’ve had some interesting conversations along the way.
So, I want to share 10 factors we’ve discussed at various times, that if left unaddressed, will surely cause significant (and really unnecessary, excessive suffering) as you fulfill your dream…perhaps turning your dream into a periodic nightmare. Instead of your mantra being, “Livin’ the dream!”…it’ll be “This feels like a nightmare.”
Also before you read these 10, consider answering these 2 questions and have the answers in mind as you read on.
=> What are your top challenges in running/growing your business right now?
=> What are your biggest annoyances as a leader/manager/business owner-operator?
Here’s a thought and a bet. I bet that the majority of your challenges will be “human resource” -people performance related. Write them down before you read on to see if any align with these 10.
Ok…here we go.
10 Critical Factors Sure to Sabotage Your Business Dream
…and give your heartburn that Tums won’t cure.
1. You own ineffectiveness (how you manage and lead) – How is your ability to self-manage in the context of the day-to-day activity of your business? Are you organized? How is your time management? Do you collaborate well with others? If you’re not able to work with and get results through people, your dream ship will be sinking fast. If you are going to have an employee based business, you must know how to work with people in a constructive, productive, positive way, including developing an effective team (#6) and/or management team. It’s just not an option! If you don’t, you’re headed for heartache and burnout.
2. Not Hiring and having the right “human resource” which means capabilities and skills. This is what gets it all done. As it says in Good to Great by Jim Collins – “get the right people on the bus in the right seats”. You have to know what skills and capabilities you need to execute each aspect of your operations. This is also where your ability and opportunity to delegate comes in – you’ve got to have the confidence to let go and let others. Knowing your limits, bandwidth and capacity applies here as well and what your staff is able to handle…instead of you!
3. Not continuously aware of how each employee is contributing/performing & not firing quickly. (I guess I could have just said a high tolerance for underperformance). Fundamentally each dollar of employee compensation is an investment with the expectation of conducting activity that produces outcomes that advance your business. You want and expect a “return-on-investment”. If you’re not aware of what’s happening on a regular basis, you may be wasting money…and you can’t afford that! Every dollar you spend on compensation is valuable and must earn a return! It’s been my observation that many underperforming employees are kept way too long because a owner or manager has difficulty firing someone. (This is a painfully, persistent issue in businesses today!)
4. Losing clarity regarding what needs to get done in timely time cycles. With a lot going on, it’s easy to get buried in the day to day activities and develop a mental fog around what’s most important and on what to maintain focus to execute targeted strategies and achieve key objectives. That fog can cloud your vision – that light at the end of the tunnel. Not seeing clearly can cause overwhelm, exhaustion and discouragement. You must maintain clarity to lead, manage and grow effectively.
5. No meaningful metrics – not measuring and tracking activity and results. I’ve noticed it’s fairly common for many early stage or small businesses to have limited metrics related to goals, activity and finances. Here is critical advice – numbers are your friend and an essential operations & growth partner. They are a truth teller – keeping you grounded in reality. Know what would be helpful to measure beyond finances to consistently move your business growth forward. Also, you want performance metrics so your employees know what’s expected. Metrics used in a constructive, positive way can be a powerful motivator and a key tool to channel activity and focus. You never what an employee to say, “I didn’t know”. My favorite leadership and management phrase is – leave no doubt.
6. The inability to build a team that works well together and get things done and the toleration of that situation. Not only do you need to be able to collaborate with others (#1), but equally important is your ability to develop a team that can do so as well. You want them to have and experience a shared sense of responsibility, accountability and productivity. Without the ability to do this, teams can become dysfunctional, leaving the strong, unhealthy personalities to dominate and take over. ..they end up becoming the true leaders. This is a very painful state for business owners and I’m amazed to what level these situations are tolerated. It’s incredibly difficult to undo or “fix”. So it’s to your advantage – if this is not your strength – to quickly learn how!
7. Not having a timely, rhythmic habit of assessing results (in collaboration with your team). You want to discover as quickly as you can – within a reasonable time frame – what’s not working, reinforce what is working, and what goals are not being achieved while capturing opportunities for improvement. If it’s not timely (I recommend weekly), you loose the chance to course correct or quickly improve, which delays growth of not only your business but your employee capabilities as well. This also continues to refine focus and fuel motivation.
8. Overlooking ongoing opportunities to improve performance and process. Once you assess your metrics, don’t waste the information and opportunity to improve any process or performance of your operations or staff. Not leveraging that information ultimately wastes money. The information you glean is essential to improving the ROI of compensation, along with any other financial investments. You must consistently discover gaps in capabilities, knowledge, resources needed so that your staff can improve their contribution while improving the processes that drives needed results.
9. Not taking care of staff morale. I am shocked how many business leaders don’t do this and then are shocked when it drops. Remember – it is much easier to maintain it than rebuild it. Essential to morale is acknowledging appreciation, rewarding effort and results. Also, stopping to celebrate ( I call it “pause for the cause”) is a way to refuel and recharge. This must be a built in part of your management practices.
10. Not exercising strategic, thoughtful growth. You have to keep growing…but how? What you don’t want to do is grow too soon or too much in an way that overwhelms to the extreme your staff’s capacity, capabilities/talents. You don’t want burnout and subsequently for them to leave. Expecting more is necessary and important for business survival and success and for their professional growth. But do so with the knowledge of what your staff is currently capable of…with strategic stretch. It will keep them engaged, they will be more professionally satisfied, your business will continue to grow and you’ll receive a higher “roc” return-on-compensation as the capacity and capabilities of your employees grow.
Ok, there you have it. What’s important to realize as we conclude is each of these has a direct, adverse financial impact to your business. Sometimes it takes actually calculating that – seeing real numbers – for leaders to understand how important it is to address them. So if you’d like to take a stab at it, you can download this costing worksheet/questionnaire.
Honestly, there is unfortunately a high tolerance for many of these. Consider the fact that your tolerations may be costing you money and making your work – fulfilling your dream – much harder. Don’t blame your employees – look at yourself first.
Just an FYI…if you’d an easy way to remedy Check out our smart management blueprint. It’s an “all in one” guide for rapid improvement (or put another way… get you out of pain quickly). Learn more about it here – 15 min. video briefing.