Owning A Business Can Be Fun
Owning A Business Can Be Fun
Always stressful, always dealing with problems…
…always on a roller-coaster (actually several all at once), always looking for answers, always wanting more, baby-sitting employees every day….it can still be fun! Really, but it’s up to you to set yourself up for success so that you can enjoy your business and better balance it with the rest of your life.
Fighting fires every day just isn’t fun, unless I guess your job is a fireman. But as a business owner you probably find yourself as I often did. I would arrive at work with 4 or 5 tasks I had identified the day (actually evening) before that required my attention that day. On the frenzied days I would not get to any of them, or would sit down at 7pm to tackle them before going home. Or worst, I would take them home and work until I went to bed ignoring my family in the process. Does that describe some of your days? While you cannot totally avoid such days, the question is how many days does that describe? Business happiness comes from minimizing the number of such days. But how do you do that?
If what I described happens often there is a good chance that some process, or more likely processes, within your business is not working. Often it is a result of competing goals within your company combined with processes that are not able to handle them well. Now we are getting into the nitty gritty of your unhappiness. Is it really a lack of process? Probably to some extent, but why do you have competing goals within your company? Could goal planning be the real problem? Or you may have great goals and processes, but perhaps it is training that is lacking resulting in processes not being followed and goals not being met? Could it be all these problems laced into a mess that is your leadership style? Your company culture? Your vision/mission? All of these and more?
All businesses have problems, having them is not your real problem. Having the proper policies, processes, people, culture, training, measurements, reporting, communication channels to necessary information…those are your problems. Most businesses I encounter have not formalized any, or most, of the important tasks within their business. Worse they are beholden to various systems they purchased to help “manage” certain aspects of their business with little fore thought on how they impact and work with each other and all of the other processes within the business.
Having a plan is insufficient though. You must have goals that fit the plan. Goals should be annual, but then should be broken down into smaller more frequent goals that measure progress towards the annual goals throughout the years. While goal development needs to start with employees (bottom up), the goal setting process must ensure all goals mesh with each other and the overall plan (top down). No conflicts!
Incentives to meet goals must also be well thought out. In order to measure goals, you must have processes that can be measured. That means formally documenting the process so that each critical step is defined well enough to be measured. Even that is not enough though. You must have means of generating the and collecting the right data and reporting it to the people that need it so it can be analyzed (you!). Then you must have a plan to train people to not only perform the process correctly over and over again, but to correct deficiencies and ensure on-going consistent high-level results. Finally you need to effectively communicate and implement it all.
For that, you must have the right culture to foster open communication so that problems that do crop up are dealt with effectively by the proper people and don’t quickly escalate to you every time. You must be willing to share key data with employees to help them understand what is taking place in real-time. You must have the right people in place, those that buy into the culture and support it every day. That means you need the right hiring processes to ensure you hire the right people. Getting rid of people is one of the hardest things for small businesses to deal with.
Wow, that is a lot of things you need to do. How are you going to fit those in AND be happy? It sounds like you are going to be more stressed out getting it all done. My answer is…you are right. But until you get all the “little” things in place so that your business can run smoothly without you, it will always be constantly depending on you to answer all the little questions. You will always be involved in things that eat up your day and keep you from the truly important tasks related to business development.
Getting a handle of the numerous roller coasters that make up your business means you can assure they run smoothly run after run after run. Furthermore, you will be assured that if something becomes askew with any part of any of the roller coasters, processes are in place to deal with them effectively before they become fires for you to fight.
The key to becoming a happy, less stressed out, business owner is developing plans, goals, processes, measurements and training. Ultimately it will also drive the consistency into your business that is required to generate true customer loyalty. It is customer loyalty, not just satisfaction, that will drive your long term success and happiness.
Your challenge this month is to be honest with yourself about your happiness. If you are not achieving the level you want, figure out the biggest gaps you need to close and put a plan together to get started closing them now. If you are just getting started with your business, don’t neglect these things during your early development, trying to fix them later can be more difficult and costly than you think.
I can help…reach out!