I’ve been chatting with several fashion and beauty entrepreneurs recently about the challenges they’re facing in their businesses. It’s reinforced for me that although there’s so much information out there, it’s still hard to choose what’s right for your business. It’s also shown me that business owners will always need someone in their corner, especially in the first few years. So I wanted to share some of my insights that might help you to successfully navigate this challenging period in your business journey and force you to look within and evaluate whether what you’re doing is ultimately helping or harming your business.
So, while I like talking all about business strategy, marketing and the like, it’s also important to address the issue of mindset and attitudes and how it affects your business, maybe even more so than economic climates, technology and support systems.
Read on below to learn about the top three things killing your business and what you can do about it.
As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, plan to fail, but before you can plan, you must research! I cannot emphasize just how important market research is.There are many business owners still making business decisions without having done the necessary research. As tiring as you think it might be, there is no way around this. You shouldn’t be making critical business decisions based solely on whims, gut feelings or hearsay.
Market research doesn’t always have to involve spending a fortune on fancy reports. There are a few simple ways you can collect market research:
- If you’ve been in business a while, you should have been collecting information and you can use that as your basis for your analysis and decision making.
- You can also reach out to your own customers to get feedback from them. This will help keep you top of mind, nurture your customer relationship and even foster greater trust and appreciation as the customer feels you value them enough to seek out their opinion.
- Check online. There are free reports available that can apply to your niche.
You have these lofty goals for your business and yet you haven’t sat down and created a plan that is going to help get you from point A to B and beyond. It’s not enough to say “I want to have my bags sold at Neiman Marcus” or “It would be great to my beauty line in Ulta”. What are the steps that you’re going to take to get there? These are the things you need to consider; at what point in your business are you going to reach out to those retailers? Is it when you starting hitting certain sales figures, or when you’re making a certain amount of profit or when your business reaches a particular age?
Now I know that the unexpected can happen which can cause a change of plans, but that’s the beauty of a plan; you can adapt and alter it as you go along. It’s not set in stone. The main point here is to at least lay out the direction that you want to go and have a list of the key steps and activities that are going to lead you there.
The number one cause of inaction is fear. You spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the negative what if’s instead of actually doing something. It’s a huge challenge for ANY business owner and allowing that fearful mentality to prevail can paralyse us if we let it get the better of us. I have the same challenge. I was even quoted in a business blog about it. You have to spend a lot of time mentally coaching yourself out of those negative and fearful thoughts. The thing is though, you never really get over being fearful. The only way through fear is to do it anyway.
I know it’s scary opening yourself up to others. I know it’s scary being vulnerable and sharing your ideas, beliefs and your life’s work (that you put your heart and soul into) with the world. However, through your market research, you’d see that there’s a large group out there that share your beliefs and would be happy and eager to buy into your brand, so that should provide some measure of comfort.
Fear of failure often leads to doing nothing. Failing isn’t the end of the world. Get comfortable with rejection. It just means that that method didn’t work and there’s a new opportunity to try something else. My motto is: ‘there’s always another way’. It’s something that has carried me through many a dark hour in my life.
Another aspect of inaction I’d like to address is confusion. You’re not sure what to do next so you don’t do anything. I know there’s soooo much information out there now, and you’re not sure what’s going to work (or not work) or whether it actually fits your business. Your head is spinning with the sheer amount of information you’re flooded with on a daily basis.
My 1st piece of advice:
You lose nothing by asking.
My 2nd piece of advice:
- Pick one thing
- Do it
- If it doesn’t work. Try another one.
- Rinse. Repeat.
Something I’ve done recently is a subscription purge. In my quest to find resources to help myself and my clients’ businesses, I was subscribing to any and everything I thought would help. That’s not a healthy habit at all. As the saying goes less is more.
Be very particular about who/what you subscribe to. Ensure that it’s in keeping with your brand’s philosophy. Think about whether you have the resources to implement what they are suggesting. Is the information they share actually valuable and worthwhile ? Or are they always trying to sell you ‘the answer’ or ‘the secret’ ?
Be very skeptical of anything that promises you riches in a super short period of time.
Most hacks do not work. There are a million of them and you couldn’t possibly try them all in a lifetime. Some of them are also quite time consuming and costly. Your time and efforts could be put to better use.
I’ve come to realise that there is no shortcut to growing a profitable, impactful, legacy business. It is grown by sticking to your principles, by choosing to focus on your long term strategy, by valuing building relationships and loyalty over hustling and quick money.
Here’s how you can combat inaction.
- Make a list of the things you want to get done
- Set deadlines
- Have an accountability partner (or partners) who can follow up with you to make sure you’ve done what you said you’d do. It’s great to have a family member, coach, mentor or a group of like-minded professionals who you can look to for support.
- Take a deep breath
- Go ahead and do it
- Don’t take it personally if it doesn’t work out ( and yes I know that’s a hard one). It’s not the end of the world. There’s someone else out there who values what you’re offering. Don’t use this set back as an excuse to slack off. Keep pushing, keep moving forward.
3. Trying to do everything yourself a.k.a the superwoman complex
Technology has enabled us to be ‘on’ all the time. We have all these tools, apps and other resources at our disposal so we figure we don’t need anyone else.
You couldn’t be more wrong. You’re always going to need help, and especially when you’re now starting out. If millionaires and billionaires see the value in joining mastermind groups, then I mean, who are you to think you can run a business without anyone’s help? “Self -Made” doesn’t mean alone. You need a support system.
Perhaps you may have previously received assistance from various agencies dedicated to developing your business. But the support doesn’t end there. I know for a fact that many business owners still struggle greatly with marketing, communications and publicity. Ensuring that you have support in those areas is absolutely critical in this information and digital age. People can’t buy a product they don’t know about. They can’t support or promote a cause they aren’t aware of.
A friend of mine recently did a live video and it was so timely. She talked about working so hard that she couldn’t get the time to focus on the creative part of the business, which was the part she loved the most. And I know that’s the reason why many of you started your businesses. You wanted a creative outlet. You had a philosophy that you poured into the creation of a product that you wanted to share with the world. You have big dream and grand plans and so, so many ideas.
But now you’re so overworked, you don’t even get to spend time creating and developing and planning. You don’t like having to spend so much time working on the business and marketing, you want to focus on creating but can’t. But you can’t seem to let go and delegate.
For your own health and sanity. You have to do it.
Working to maintain your business is not the same as working on growing your business.
I know there are questions about your ability to afford to pay someone to help you manage your business. Finding out if you can is as simple as asking a question and looking at your finances.
Hire a virtual assistant or part time help. If you can’t afford that, find a friend or family member who can help take some of the load off your shoulders.
Many times we use finances as a reason not to invest in help. But is what you’re doing trying to juggle it all generating any more revenue? How much better off would your business be if you could focus your time and energy on the parts of the business that bring you joy and let someone else handle the parts you don’t like?
Will you continue to just plod along doing things you don’t like and barely getting by or will you make a decision to invest in your business and get the help you need and start putting systems and processes in place that can guarantee steady income?
If any of this made you stop in your tracks and seriously evaluate yourself, then good! I have done my job. Today I want you to make a commitment to making some changes; set aside some time to make a plan, work on those negative thoughts and fears that hold you back from courageously moving forward; and stop trying to handle everything yourself.
The new year will be here soon. It’s best to start planning early so that you’re not playing catch up halfway through the year. If you want to do better in 2019 and actually make progress towards your strategic goals then the time to start is now. I’m accepting a handful of new clients for January 2019.
If you want someone to hold you accountable, who will ensure that you have a plan in place; giving clear guidelines on what to do to help you achieve your business goals; if you’re tired of trying to be superwoman and need help streamlining your business operations; if you just like creating and want someone else to handle marketing, publicity and the search for new business opportunities, then you should give us a call and see if we’re a good fit.
You can schedule one right here.
Until next time,