How to Conquer the 7 Most Common Frustrations Business Owners Have
Owning and running a business can be tough. The frustrations business owners have can be overwhelming. Every business owner goes through times of elation, times of flow and times of frustration. Businesses have cycles, just like the seasons. Fortunately, you don’t have to struggle through the crop-killing heat of the summer or the bone-chilling freeze of winter. As a business owner, there are steps you can take to help you move through the tough times with a bit more ease. Let’s be honest, it still takes effort, but effort in addition to direction and action will get you and your business over any frustration hump and moving on the right path again soon.
What attracts people to start a business in the first place.
Some people fall into owning a business. We all know the story of the plumber dude, who was so excellent at what he did and how he related to his customers – that his base grew so big, so quickly that he had to get help…and so, he started a company to do it. We also know the story of the brilliant tech dudette, who created some killer app that made life so much easier – quickly she needed help marketing it, selling it, and updating it – and her company was born.
Others of us are drawn into the idea of being a business owner. We want the freedom to set our own direction and create our own destiny. We want to own our schedule – work from the beach – work a couple hours a day. We want more financial wealth and stability. We want to have a better lifestyle with more time and money to travel, to support our passions, and to spend with our family. We want to make our mark and serve many.
Regardless of why you started your business, what you’re experiencing as a business owner is most likely very different than your idea of what it would be at the beginning. A few business owner rock the role and have all the time, money and freedom they want. Most business owners fall into a rut of being stuck with their business and they never get to enjoy the fruits of being a business owner. We want to change that!
Enjoying your business and your life by creating the systems, structure and support of a sustainable and intelligent growth plan is the key to limiting those frustrating times, while spending more time in flow. But how do you to that? Especially when it feels like you have no time (or energy) anyway? You have to learn to conquer your frustrations and get committed to your solutions.
The Top 7 Frustrations Business Owners Have
These are the big ones – the ones that keep you up at night. There are more frustrations out there, but most of them roll up into these biggies. Any of these sound familiar?
- The Business Owns You – You thought it would be the other way around, but nope. You eat, sleep, think, dream, and everything else your business. There is no time for working out, spending with family, pursuing passions, nevermind going on a much needed multi-week vacation. You don’t own your time or your mind.
- Profits Aren’t Where They Need To Be – You’re feeling constantly pinched. There seems to always be a bit (or a lot) of deficit. There’s no extra capital to invest in people, technology or systems. And there is certainly not enough to pay you want you want or deserve. When there is profit it seems like a windfall, but then it’s dry until the next windfall. Financial prosperity is still a dream. You need working capital, but you don’t know the best way to get it – or if you even can.
- People Mayhem – No one is on the same page. Everyone has an oar in the water, but they are all rowing in different directions. The HR person is a bully, but they’ve been with the company since the beginning and you don’t have time to find a replacement. You’re salespeople sometimes makes sales and sometimes doesn’t. You have to play ref and make sure everyone is doing their job…and do your job.
- Your Systems Are In Shambles…Wait, What Systems? – Every person in your company has their own way of keeping track of email, scheduling, customer contact, product development. Your customers have a tough time interfacing with you and easily getting the support they need. Your prospects have to struggle or be super lucky to find you. Target, implementation and release dates are always moving and important deadlines are being missed. Contracts are incomplete, outdated or missing. Collections are at an all time high. Important things are constantly falling through the cracks and it’s up to you to make sure and follow up on everything.
- You’re Business Is Stuck and Can’t Get Off High Center – The wheels are spinning but you can’t seem to get traction and more forward out of your current business state. You want to grow but can’t seem to get traction. You’ve tried making changes, implementing new technology and systems to help optimize the business – but nothing sticks. You’ve brought people into help, and it helps for a little, but then it’s back to the status quo. You feel like you’ve tried everything (good news – you’ve haven’t – you can fix this!) and sometimes feel like it’s easier to just stay stuck than to try and move forward.
- You’re Bored – It feels like you are living in Groundhog Day. In fact, your starting to look like Bill Murray. You can’t muster the passion or the drive to look at your business from a fresh perspective and evolve. You’ve checked out – the problem is that it seems like everyone else is checked out as well. It’s easier just let your business tread water it – even though you know that without growth and evolution, you will run your business into the ground. You’ve put people in play to help out – but they are not the right people and so the business keeps forcing your attention back to it when the s**t hits the fan. Which is happening more and more often. You may even want out of the biz, but it is no way ready to sell – nevermind sell for top dollar.
- Burn Out – Is your health or relationship teetering on the edge of crisis? Are you so stressed all that time that you are miserable to be around? Does it take everything you’ve got to meekly manage getting through your day? Have you turned into a giant jerk – either with your team or your spouse/family? Is your anger and frustration level so high that you seem like you are ready to explode at every turn – or have you gone beyond that and are now at the point of the f*ck-its? Would you avoid yourself if you could? You are totally overwhelmed and feel like you need a total break (before your totally break) – a long one – where you can recoup and regroup.
How Can You Conquer Head-Spinning Frustrations?
If you are experiencing these frustrations, know that you are not alone. Every business owner comes up against them from time to time. The first step is to recognize that you are churning in frustration – then you can conquer that frustration. The goal is that you come up against these frustration less and less frequently and that you handle them with more ease and finesse.
Business owners who are successful at spending most of their time in a productive and effective flow are committed to working on these 10 Keys for Business Owner Savvy. These business owners are experiencing freedom (time and money), profit and financial soundness, leverage through powerful teams, and consistent, dependable, and predictable growth. Which means you can to. However, you must first get educated and committed to conquering the frustration that gets and keeps you spinning.
Proven Strategies for Conquering the Most Common Frustrations Business Owners Have
#1 Get Your Head Back In The Game – Your psychology is the most important factor in you being a successful business owner. It doesn’t matter if you’ve made it before or been successful before (or if you haven’t) – you’re success now is 100% dependent on your current headspace. How do you get a mental tune-up? First tap into your mission. Revisit the beginning – why did you start your business? Who were you trying to help and how were you trying to help them? Tap into your current mission – what is your business really about? What higher purpose does it serve?
Are you a dry cleaner? Great, you’re in the business of making people look and feel better. You save people a ton of time and effort so they can spend more time with the people they love, doing the things that they love. Are you an optometrist? Perfect, you help people see life and feel comfortable doing it. You give them sight and a sense of individuality, style, and confidence with their eyewear. Are you coffee shop owner? Awesome, you bring people their morning java and help them kick off their day in great way. You provide space for connection, conversation and work. You help people feel really good.
Whatever you do – tap into your mission and then tap into YOUR PURPOSE. Why are you choosing to be a business owner in this business? What does it bring back to you? Do you love serving your customer base? What does it bring to your family? How does it help you grow and contribute? Your PURPOSE will help you drive your level of commitment and focus to take action – even when you don’t feel like it, or it’s too hard, or you don’t have enough time, or it costs money. Make your PURPOSE huge so it can pull you forward like a giant magnet and can also push you from behind when you are feeling challenged. With a huge purpose, anything is possible – it will give you the eyes-on-the-prize, do-whatever-takes attitude necessary to get out of frustration stuck and into flow.
#2 Define Your Vision, Set Your Direction – A business is dying if it’s not growing and evolving. That’s the bottom-line. And you must know where you are headed before you can ever get there. This is a 3 part process – What – Why – How. Firstly, build out your vision with your core leadership team (or your entire team if your company is small.) What do you want you business to look like 7 years from now? 3 years from now? 18 months from now? Set you sight clear in terms of product/service offerings, revenue, profit, number of customers, experience of the customer, culture, team, location, and recurring revenue for each time frames. Bring your team into the vision process to gain buy-in at all levels – collaboration is king when it comes to setting big long-term goals. You want your team’s perspective and input, especially for the next part – formulate a compelling why for hitting all of your targets. Once you have a clearly defined vision and why, create your 6 and 12 month goals (and 30-60-90 day action plans) to flush out the HOW you are going to meet your long-term goals.
Bringing the team into this process will help keep everyone on track in terms of goals, daily actions and priorities. And most importantly – everyone oars will be in the water AND rowing in the same direction.
#3 Update Your Culture For Growth – Every business has a culture – even if you, as the owner, have not consciously created it. Culture is really a feeling. It’s the feeling your customers have when they work with you. It’s the feeling your vendors get. It’s the feeling your people get. Culture is a core fundamental in your business, but so many business owner just let it evolve on its own. If you are going to grow this asset called your business, you must cultivate the culture you desire – one that is in alignment with your mission and vision.
There was a restaurant chain in the northeast that is still hanging on but has taken a tumble a number of times. Their product saves them. We’re are going to refer to this chain as “Happy’s.” Happy’s offers affordable, diner-type food which tastes decent enough, but Happy’s go-to is its ice cream. Happy’s has delicious ice cream, sundaes, and milkshakes. Before boutique ice cream shops were popping up, Happy’s was a huge draw for families and people who wanted really yummy ice cream. The problem for Happy’s is this: for the most part their servers are not happy….at all. When you are walking into Happy’s, your chances of dealing with a rude, overworked, slow, and seemingly unmotivated server is super high. Happy’s even has a catchy reputation – “not so happy, Happy’s”. The problem for Happy’s is the cost of keeping all of their brick and mortar restaurants open, thriving, and profitable – in the face of more and more ice-cream boutiques that offer fast, friendly and delicious product and service.
As you are getting ready to revamp your interface with the business and strive towards your mission – you have to think about the culture that you want to create that will support your growth and your ultimate mission and vision for the business. Some of your current people will not like it (a lot of people have a low very tolerance for change,) but you must do it anyway. It’s the first step in finding the right people to grow your business to the point of where you ultimately want it.
#4 Start Measuring and Fall In Love With Knowing Your Numbers – You can’t grow and evolve what you don’t measure. Chances are really high that you will not love your numbers off the bat, but luckily that’s not the goal. The goal is to create KPIs that will inform your daily decision making and help drive direction faster and more effectively. KPIs (or Key Performance Indicators) are a set of numbers or measurements that each of your people, teams, managers and you will see consistently. Each department in your business will have their own set of measurables and your leadership team will be responsible for monitoring those measurables and taking corresponding action on them. Sales KPIs will track things like – calls made, pipeline, forecast, conversion rates, etc. Accounting KPIs will tract things like receivables, past due, revenues, profit, earning, COGS, invoices, etc. It’s important to automate the data collection process as much as possible so you can have accurate and up-to-date measurements. When you are looking to your workflow software, make sure someone on your team has the know-how to create and run the reports every team leads need. As the business owner, you should see a high-level set of KPIs that encapsulates every aspect of the business. If you need more detailed information – you can check with your department head.
Once business owners get in the flow of using KPIs, their interaction with the business will change. It’s powerful to know that at any minute you know where your business stands against its targets, know what’s working well, and what needs tweaking. It’s great feedback for your people and teams. Numbers don’t lie and they will be able to see how they are doing against expectations, empowering them to seek help and get on track. Schedule weekly tune ups to check in with entire teams for status against expectations of KPIs and daily stand ups for teams who must collaborate and be on top of their performance (i.e. software/product development teams.)
#5 Take Action & Get Traction (Accountability, Prioritization, Communication, Collaboration) – Goals are nothing without action to get traction. Accountability, Prioritization, Communication and Collaboration are your new best friends. Bringing your team into the visioning process will help kick things off on the right foot, but too often that’s all business owners do – then they hope that the team will turn things around. Not a chance. We are humans and humans are creatures of habit. Regardless of best intentions, without conscious and constant effort we will revert back to the old way of doing things. It can take 6 months for new habits to take hold. One of the best ways to make sure you crush your 18 month vision is to set up YOUR plan of action of how to get there. Monitoring KPIs is one step. Optimizing processes in one step. Getting the right people in the right place is one step. Creating a culture that supports your growth trajectory and key elements of it like accountability, prioritization, communication and collaboration is a step.
Bottom-line, YOUR commitment to see your vision into fruition for the long haul and YOUR consistent action are what is going to get your team on board with helping to see this through. And you absolutely want their support and effort. Too many business owners bring a consultant or system in to their company and expect it to take hold overnight and evolve their business – even though no one is transforming how they interface with the business – that doesn’t work. Lots of employees just wait for the latest band-aid solution to blow over – then they can go back to the way they have always done things. You have to decide – NOT this time. NOW is the time for real transformation of the business to take place. That change starts with you.
You have to show up consistently with an expectation of:
- Accountability – Did you do what you said you were going to do? Are you monitoring your KPIs and proactively seeking solutions?
- Prioritization – Do you know what is most important to spend your time on? Are you spending most of your time doing that? Are you managing your other time well and effectively?
- Communication – Are you asking for help as you need it – long before crisis time? Are you able to be coached honestly and openly? Do you dialog well with your team, your customers and others?
- Collaboration – Are you helpful? Are you supportive to others on the team? Are you willing to chip in where needed? Are you operating in line with the company’s mission, vision and values?
These four attributes will serve your company, your customers, you people and you tremendously well – do whatever it takes to make them habit and the daily norm.
#6 Get the Right People In The Right Place – Your people are everything. Your people are your business. They interface with your customers. They interface with your vendors. They reinforce the culture or vibe of your business. Having and cultivating your people is one of your most important jobs. When you start a growth initiative, it’s important to honestly evaluate who you have in which roles and how effective they are. It will be obvious that some people are A-level players and right where they need to be, some people are good, but not in the right place – and unfortunately some people are just not good – or won’t be good in the new culture. This is where business owners often need support, especially if people need to move on and have been with the company for a long time. For those who you deicide are going to step up and be on the team with you, they will need some time to adjust, but pretty quickly they have to take action towards that adjustment or it’s time for them to move on.
I worked with a company that was going through a solid, growth initiative. One of the key players in the business was a major problem. She was super effective at what she did, but had an unbearable attitude towards other employees. She was bossy and downright rude. She declared that she didn’t support growth because that meant she would be busier and she could never find anyone good enough to help her (wonder why.) The leadership said that her refusal to step up and help the company grow was a problem – I had to point out that she was the problem. They were really torn about letting her go. She’d been with the company for years and they were afraid that if they let her go, she would sabotage things. If you have an employee that you (or any other team members) are afraid of – it’s 100% time for them to move on! Get help of an employment expert or lawyer if you need to, cover your bases and fire away.
#7 Productive and Effective Processes Rule – The goal is to design processes that create reliable, predictable, duplicatable and effective results consistently – without micromanagement. Putting the right systems, structures and support in place to run your business can be a daunting task, for sure. It will truly take research and set-up time. It will take effort. It will take money. And it will take lag-time. But if you are strategic in your approach and break the entire project down into bite-sized chunks, you will get there.
Effective processes are paramount in you being able to spend more time away from the day-to-day headaches of owning a business. Effective processes take a business out of the “wing it” zone and begin to put it on the map. Someday, you will want to truly step away from your business. Having proven, documented systems in play will greatly increase the value of your business – which means more money for you!
The other fundamental reason to create effective processes is to provide splatter control. In life and in all businesses, there will be times when the sh*t hits the fan. As much as you would like to prevent that from ever happening, you can’t. What you can do is minimize and contain the damage – this is what we mean by splatter control. When you have clearly defined processes, it’s easier to “catch” things sooner and get back on track faster because processes are already laid out. Your people know the outcome and purpose of each of the processes and how to work the processes. This helps your people be more effective and feel like they are making a difference.
#8 Spend More Time Working On The Business Than Working In The Business – Most business owners are dog tired and the thought of spending more time working on the business is like, “Yea, right!” Here’s why you must carve out that time – you will be more effective at leading your company and driving the direction of your business, the less you do in the business. That’s why creating systems, culture and cultivating people is so key. That is going to give you time to focus on the most important leadership aspects of your business. That’s what’s going to drive growth. That is going to make your business more valuable.
You are the owner of the business – it’s your #1 job to be the leader. You have to lead and take care of your people. Create the systems, processes, structure, support, culture, and teams – so that your people can absolutely take care of your customers. If you are not spending time doing the job of the leader – well, that’s like a pirate ship out of the open waters going in circles because there is no captain. It’s a huge mental shift for most business owners – to go from the deck-swabber, sail-hoister, boatswain, cook and surgeon (salesperson, marketer, accounts receivable, receptionist, quote generator, scheduler, technical lead and toilet un-clogger) – to leader. But the leader is crucial – you set the direction of the company, you define and cultivate the culture, you help optimize processes, you monitor KPIs help ensure the company has the traction it needs, you find quality people and help up-level your staff so they are proud and feel like they make a difference and are part of something awesome. No one else can do to that. There are plenty of other awesome salespeople, marketers, tech leads, receptionists, customer service folks, etc. out there. Go find them and let them shine! Let them do those jobs, better than you ever could, so you can have the leverage to rock your business.
#9 Clearly Defined Exit Strategy – All good things must come to an end – make sure your end is one of your choosing, where you get rewarded well. You may be at a point in your business where you have no intention to sell for 10-15 years – that’s great. You may really like the idea of selling sooner – that’s great too. You may be at a critical make-it-or-break-it point in your business. Regardless of when you “quit” your business, the time will come when you want or need to move on. So, why do you need to start thinking about that now? Because it takes TIME to get your business cued up to get top dollar – more time than most people think it will. The sooner you can put your put the processes, people and culture into play to support your growth plan the better – because all of that will drive your revenues up, while removing you from every little day-to-day aspect of the the business.
Stronger, more predictable revenues and earnings over time – that are support by effective systems and awesome people – make your asset (business) tremendously valuable. Creating a business where someone or a company can come in and assume leadership as effortlessly as possible (and without a lot of disruption) is the ultimate goal. Start taking action today and get to that choice point – of being able to sell all or part of your business for top dollar – sooner rather than later. You have no idea what life has in store for you. Get cranking so you can be opportunistic and leverage this awesome asset that you have created!
#10 Get Support! – You can make yourself crazy by trying to do this on your own. Every olympic athlete has had not just one coach but a team of coaches. Here’s why: They help you see the forest for the trees – they give you the 30,000 ft. view when you can’t get out of the weeds. They help you stay on track – even when distractions pile on or when you feel like throwing in the towel. They are honest with you you and hold you accountable – they call it tight and you can’t bullsh*t them.
Hey, if treading water is your game – stick with the status quo. But, if you are really looking to get traction and grow your business you have to get and stay committed. There is a lot to do and no one expects you to totally competent – nevermind an expert – at all of it. From optimizing your sales process and sales syntax, to developing predictable marketing channels, to implementing key systems and automation processes, to managing people, to engaging with prospects and customers to stay relevant, to making sure you are complaint and your contracts are solid, to getting your books in order and up to date…there is more than enough work to go around. Get help. Get support. Hire a business coach. Join a mastermind or mentor group. Up your peer group to include business owners who are working strategically and performing well.
Isn’t It Time To Live The Life You Truly Want?
Working from the beach. Taking Fridays off as ski days. Vacationing with your family for two-weeks at a time. Paying off your house and stocking up your retirement funds. Creating opportunities for you and your team to give back to your community. Feeling energized and jazzed about your business and your life. Can you live the business owners dream? Absolutely! Set yourself up to win by doing the work to strategically grow now.
Yes, it takes time, money and effort – but with clear targets, an engaged mindset, total commitment and a plan – you can get there. Remember, it all starts with mindset – so follow these steps and get cracking (even if it’s a bit little each day.) Before long, you’ll start to get a clear picture of what the payoff is going to look like. And if you start to fumble along the way – reach out and get help early – you’ll reach your goals loads faster and it will be so much easier!