Do you feel like you have a broken business?As if part of it just aren’t working?
If so, you’re definitely not alone. Building a business is tricky. Not only do you have to actually DO or MAKE the thing you get paid for, there’s a whole bunch of other stuff you need to know and do to keep the business running and legal. From marketing to cashflow, invoicing and credit control to tax, rules, regulations and legal requirements, it can be all consuming – and no wonder we get overwhelmed and struggle with where to focus first.
The thing is, if any of these areas get neglected, your business starts to break.
You get behind on invoicing. You get hit with unexpected tax bills. You come to the end of a busy period to find you have NO business and no idea where the next sale will come from. And those are just some of the symptoms, not to mention the panic, overwhelm and despair that accompany them.
And here’s the thing. Hardly any small businesses get it ALL right, all of the time. Most businesses have areas that are ‘weak’ or neglected because there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to tackle everything.
So there is always something that’s broken or breaking. And that’s a shame. So, what can you do about it?
Well, the answer is LOTS! But very slowly and in very tiny steps. Let me explain.
By the time we reach a point where one or more areas of our business are ‘broken’ or not working properly, we’re usually in it up to our neck. We are busy, we have no spare time, we just have to keep paddling and hope we can keep going and fix things before disaster strikes.
And when something BIG goes wrong, we go into crisis mode. We stop doing everything else and throw all our attention and energy at the ‘broken’ thing until we get it going again.
So, if we run out of cash we go crazy chasing up outstanding invoices and ignore everything else. If we come to the end of a busy period and find sales have come to a total stop, we put all our attention on marketing like a crazy person, throwing out deals and offers and promotions left, right and centre and ignore everything else until we get the sales, then we start again.
So, let me ask you something.
Does this sound like a good and sustainable way to run a business?
I don’t think so.
What we need to do is start fixing the tiny things first.
The tiny, seemingly insignificant things that you think won’t make a difference but over time, they make a huge difference.
This might be as simple as spending 10 minutes every day checking to see whose payments are overdue and sending out emails or making calls to ask when payment is coming. If you did that every single day you would see big changes starting to happen.
- First of all, you would know EXACTLY where you are with your money and your outstanding payments all the time. That’s massive.
- Secondly, you would always be on top of debtors and they would know you are running a professional business. You would send them a reminder on the day payment is due and ask them when you can expect payment.
- You would follow up a week later with a friendly phone call asking when you can expect payment and showing them that you’re serious about collecting this money, instead of sitting waiting patiently until someone remembers to pay you.
- Thirdly, you would start to see who the problem customers are and you could make a decision about whether it’s worth dealing with them in the future.
And if you did this every work day, you would never have a mad panic about who owes what at the end of the month, and then despairing because the person who signs off payments has just gone on holiday for 2 weeks. If you’d done your 10 minutes a day you would have known about the holiday and you would have probably already been paid by now.
Let’s take another example.
Say you’ve been crazy busy with orders and then one day you finish everything on the list. You have been SO busy that you’ve not had time to do any marketing or line up any more sales. So now it’s like a ghost town out there. You have to start from scratch again, like you did the last time before you got crazy busy again, remember?
But just imagine if you had a steady stream of orders and a healthy waiting list that always has sales coming through, so you never have crazy busy times but you also never have a ghost-town. That takes one tiny change in your business.
You just need to start keeping in touch. With customers, with prospects, with anyone who wants to hear from you. Regularly.
If you start keeping in touch and sending out a regular e-newsletter every month or two weeks, magical things start to happen.
- Customers start getting in touch and ordering more because your email just reminded them how fab your business is and why they need to be buying from you again.
- Enquiries from potential customers start to appear because something you said in your newsletter jogged their memory or hit a nerve and they decide NOW is a good time to take action and buy from you.
- You get bigger orders because you started showcasing your products and services in your newsletter, focusing on different ones each time and you have testimonials and case studies showing how your stuff works and why it’s so great. Customers who would just have bought one thing decide to try this other new thing because the testimonials showed them it’s just what they need, plus they are more likely to trust you because customers are singing your praises.
- You can create sales. Yes really. Just from a newsletter. You decide every so often to put out an offer or a deal, or try a new style or product and you give your newsletter subscribers a sneaky peek and an early bird price and guess what? People buy. They book. They purchase. They place orders. Just because you sent them a newsletter.
This one tiny change in your business has a HUGE impact on your cashflow, on your time, on your peace of mind and on your sales.
Sending a newsletter might take you a day the first time you try it. The second time it might take half a day. The third time it might take you an hour. Before very long you’ll be a whiz at it and you’ll be writing newsletters like a pro (and you’ll have time because you’re not running round trying to scramble after business).
Every day, write down anything that you think needs to go in your next newsletter so when it comes to writing it, the content is there it just needs putting into the email.
This Works For Every Part Of Your Business AND Life
It does! Making tiny changes and STICKING TO THEM is all you need to do to create MASSIVE changes down the line.
Sometimes it takes a short time. Sometimes it can take a year or more (putting money into your pension pot for example) before you see the benefits but those tiny changes add up.
Where you put your attention is where the magic happens and the magic only takes a tiny change to start working. You just need to STICK AT IT!
- Pick ONE TINY THING you want to change and start today. It needs to be something really small that takes hardly any effort. Something that’s easy and quick. Just pick one. Once you’ve cracked one area, you can start tiny change number 2.
- Keep doing it, every day for a week.
- And once you’ve done it for a week, commit to doing it for another TWO weeks because after 3 weeks you’ll be used to it. It will become a habit and something you just DO without thinking.
- Every 3 weeks you can make ONE MORE TINY CHANGE in your business and it will feel effortless because your previous tiny changes are now such a part of your routine that you don’t even think about them.
- The last thing you need to do is to write down what the tiny change is each time. Put it on your wall, on your phone, in your notebook along with the date and look at it every day. At the end of a year you could have made 17 tiny changes in your business and your life and you will probably have forgotten most of them because you are so used to them but when you look back, you’ll be amazed at how far you have come and what you have achieved just by making TEENY, TINY CHANGES every few weeks in your business.
I can’t wait to see how you get on!
Claire Mitchell is a best-selling author of the Awesome Marketing Planner and founder of The Girls Mean Business, a mum and business owner. She has been featured in Marie-Claire, The Guardian, Closer Magazine, Essentials, The Huffington Post and on the BBC.