Running a small business is a tough life: even when things are going well there are challenges and potential crises coming at you all the time.
It is so easy to get lost in “the thick of thin things”… but there is a lot of value in standing back and thinking about how things are going; looking at the big picture.
Have you got the customers you want to have? Are you making the number of sales that you were targetting? Are they as profitable as you expected? Is the difference better or worse than you were expecting, or is it just different (not better or worse!).
“It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small”
– a line from “Let It Go” from the film Frozen
The way to get this perspective is to dedicate time to looking for it. I recommend that my clients schedule monthly meetings dedicated to thinking about how things have gone and what you need to do to make the future turn out the way you want.
In big companies this is called a Board Meeting, but it doesn’t have to be a big event. The key thing is to turn your phones and email off for an hour and focus on the business, not just working in the business.
It is useful to recruit someone who is not involved in the day to day business to help.
In plc businesses these people are called Non Executive Directors – responsible to the shareholders for the running of the business, but not given any decision making role.
You don’t need to make this person a Director, and they don’t need to have any specific experience in your industry or your type of business. What they do need is:
a) to be interested in your business and care for its success
b) some form of business experience, and definitely experience in a small business – it’s very different from a large business
c) to be someone you trust and respect
The last point is perhaps the most significant; this person is here to help you – if you don’t want to share your feelings with them, or take their advice they won’t be much help.
In my experience one of the most valuable features to look for is someone who asks questions – lots of questions. It’s not their business, so you wouldn’t expect them to tell you what to do. But questions help shine a light on why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Finally, its very easy to continue doing what you’ve always done: you really can’t underestimate the value of a fresh pair of eyes when it comes to running your business.
If you had to explain to someone else why you had missed your target it would start to mean a lot more to you! There would be no room for excuses.
It does of course take courage to open yourself up by asking someone else to look at your business.
It’s not always easy to hear someone else’s opinions. However if that person has your business and your own best interests at heart it will be advice worth seeking out.