Today we have a guest post from Karen Southall Watts, who tells us to be courageous and ask ourselves the toughest questions about our business. Doing so may not be pleasant but, trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
You’re tired or cranky. The office seems overly noisy but not productive. Something seems off, but you aren’t sure what.
It happens to all entrepreneurs—the time comes to look in the mirror and ask some tough questions.
Don’t shy away. Just face yourself and you can move on to greater success.
How are my finances—really?
Sometimes the thrill of running the business overshadows the reality of the balance sheet. As you move through your business every day, the pressure to get things done, or the temptation to do something new and interesting, can distract you from the essential bottom line: Businesses need to make a profit.
When customers aren’t coming in and bills aren’t getting paid it is simply human nature to ignore the situation and hope things will get better. Resist this urge. Being busy is not an excuse to skip the regular and careful review of your accounts. If you aren’t making money it might be time to revisit your business plan and strategies.
Can I take criticism or absorb advice?
One of my personal guilty pleasures is watching “Tabatha Takes Over” on television. Tabatha Coffee, a famous hair stylist and salon owner, evaluates, renovates and resuscitates struggling businesses, while we get to watch. It never ceases to amaze me that so many owners, who have asked for her help, refuse to listen to the expert advice they are getting—for free.
What I find even more amazing are entrepreneurs who pay for expert help from accountants, publicists, consultants and others, who also ignore advice.
Successful entrepreneurs must be fast and flexible. You must be willing to act on solid expert advice as well as the feedback from your clients or customers. If your reaction to constructive criticism is making excuses or getting defensive you are missing out on opportunity.
Should I still be wearing all these hats?
During the start-up phase it’s common for entrepreneurs to do everything from presentations to investors to taking out the garbage. As success begins to kick in the time comes to delegate.
The same happens every time you expand. The same issues around delegation pop up again and again, even for those of us who know better.
Are you tired all the time? Are you spending time doing tasks far outside your true talent “sweet spot”? Have you said, “If I don’t do it myself, it won’t get done”? Be honest. Your focus should be on the core mission of the business. Failing to delegate or micromanaging after you hand off a task will drain your energy.
What’s my next step, and why am I not doing it right now?
I can’t tell you how many coaching conversations begin with the phrase “I know I should…” Entrepreneurs by nature are innovative, creative and dedicated. Often there’s only a moment between the big AH HA for a new product, service or strategy and excited execution.
Then sometimes fear gets in the way. It can happen slowly; you simply don’t do the next step. You have a vague sort of stuck feeling. The business is okay, but in your heart you know it could be much better. Do whatever you need to get unstuck: join a mastermind group, hire a coach, call a colleague, have a staff retreat. Just do it.
Take a long, hard look in the mirror. Ask the tough questions and take action, and the next time you glance at your reflection you will see a happier and more content and successful business owner.
Karen Southall Watts is an entrepreneurship and management coach who focuses on practical and effective solutions for professionals. Karen offers workshops and one-on-one coaching. She is the author of the ebook, Sex is Good for Business: A Workbook for Couples in Business Together. Follow Karen on Twitter or find her at www.karensouthallwatts.com. Karen also teaches Business Ethics and writing at the community college level.
Image by cali4beach
Elena is founder of a technology PR agency that works with startups to billion-dollar companies. She is passionate about helping marketers and small business owners with practical publicity strategies, which she's also using for her own bling flip flop company.
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