5 Things Most Business Owners Rarely Do…But Should

How many of you as Entrepreneurs/business owners recognize this as your typical day (having worked with a LOT of you, this is what I hear quite a bit)

Basically, most business owners are moving as fast as they can trying to get customers so they can stay afloat.  The idea of having excess working capital is a wish…a dream.  You tell yourself that, “when things get better,” you will be able to create the systems and processes that you know are important (but you are too busy to work on right now).  This may surprise you, but I even get THIS as an objection:

“When things get better, I’ll be able to work with you, Roger.”  As if a world-class athlete would say, “When I get into the Olympics, I’ll work with a trainer.”  What do you think the odds are that they will get INTO the Olympics? (hint:  pretty close to Zero).

So, I am going to break it to you gently (or, not so gently):  THAT DAY WILL NEVER COME AS LONG AS YOU KEEP DOING THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER!

It’s time for you to draw a line in the sand and at least do these 5 things. 

1.  Forecast Sales

Be specific.  Start with what you want to sell in a year, both in dollars and number of customers; break it down to quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily (and even hourly for some of you) targets.   But make this more than a numbers exercise.  Who is buying?  When are they buying?  Why are they buying what they buy, with the frequency they buy it?  ETC. ETC.

I love a quote I heard from Bob Burg (from one of HIS mentors) that said “If you miss the target, it’s not the target’s fault.”  But, if you don’t even know where the target is; you don’t even have a CHANCE of hitting it.

2.  Spend enough on targeted Marketing.

When you learn to forecast sales well; you will realize that you need to be more methodical in your marketing; instead of the blind chase most of your competitors (and maybe you) are doing.

Consider any great athlete.  If they want to be a champion, how likely is that to happen if they were just randomly running around every day for 20 or 30 minutes; hoping that…somehow..their excercise will be enough to help them be better than their competition?

Yet, I was sitting with a Restaurant Owner the other day who was complaining that “marketing never works.”  When I asked what he did, and who he was targeting; he said he had bought newspaper ads (yikes..for a restaurant?) and said he wanted to target people who wanted “great food and great service.”  (for my regular readers, you know how I feel about THAT one).

Even worse, most business owners not only do not have enough process around their marketing; they underspend.   Just to MAINTAIN your business, you should be spending AT LEAST 5% of your revenue on marketing.  To grow, you might invest 10% or even 15%.  Yes, if you do the math, that may seem like a LOT.   But, the 8, 10, or 12 hours of training by a champion athlete also seems like a lot to the 3rd place finisher.   As long as you underspend and lack focus, you WILL be the one in 3rd place; struggling to get ahead, and often wondering why your competitor gets “the lucky breaks.”

By the way, I would 100% recommend that, before you increase your spending or try targeting; do your research and learn what works, what does not, and how to test for maximum effectiveness (or, find someone who specializes in marketing, so that your learning curve is not so steep).

3. Analyze and ACTIVELY MANAGE your Costs, especially Cost of Goods Sold and Labor

This is much more than just knowing your product costs and “beating up” on your vendors to get the lowest price; while paying your team members as little as possible.  It involves incorporating your marketing, product sales strategy, and operations strategy into a cohesive plan to ensure that you are making money.  Since I work with Restaurants, my experience is that most of them throw their menu together with no strategy or understanding to how it affects either their food cost or labor expense.  So, when they are not making any money; they THINK it is just because “sales need to be higher.”

Even if you are selling mufflers, though, the concept of this integration is the same.  Sales cures a lot of ills..but it won’t fix anything if your cost to deliver more product is more than the revenue.     Or, if your marketing gets more customers, but they all come when you are at capacity already; so you cannot serve them well when they DO come (which can be bad).

4.  Recognize Positive Actions by at least half your Team – EVERY DAY

If I had a Dime for every business owner who wonders where all of the “hard workers” have gone….I’d have a lot of dimes.

Seriously, maybe the problem is not in their motivation, but in the fact that many business owners have the attitude that their “employees are lucky to have a job.”  Well, maybe they are; but what are you doing to make sure they are motivated to care as much about the business as you would like?

If all you do is continue to point out their errors and faults; eventually you build it into their heads that they need to work on “avoiding errors.”  Can you see what they are now focused on?  Errors.

Now, I am not saying you should celebrate mediocrity; but set a goal every day to find positive actions by your team and recognize them.  Guess what you do then?  You will create in them a focus on doing positive actions.  Then, even when you need to point out opportunities for improvement, your team is going to be more accepting.

5.  Get  HELP!

If things are not working as well as you had hoped, get help.  Stop doing your own website, creating coupons and offering deals when you do not understand how these impact your business and your brand, hiring people without a profiling system, etc. etc.

I talk to restaurant owners every day who, with very little experience in the business, have put down half of a million dollars of their savings in a building and equipment (because someone said they were great cooks); yet have let their nephew do their website, have designed their own menus, and let the Groupon people talk them into money-losing online deals.    Then, they cannot afford to get help because by the time they realize that they should get help; they have burned through all of their working capital and are funding a burning building out of their own pockets.  It’s painful to watch.

If you do these 5 things, I can guarantee that, in the very near future,  your business will be 100% better than it is now.  You will have more sales, more cash flow, a more motivated team, and a business that you feel GREAT about.

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Please comment below: are you doing all 5 of these?  If not, which ARE you doing, and how will you begin doing the others (PS.  if #5 is on your “to do” list, email me at Roger@RestaurantSuccessGuru.com for some ideas.  If I’m not the right one to help you, because of my Restaurant owner focus; I have an extensive list of contacts to find just the right person for you)

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Comments

  • dice8up  On September 12, 2012 at 7:12 am

    I am not doing enough on #2.. targeted marketing. perhaps I will start considering this moving forward. thanks for an excellent article.

  • jbwebdesigner  On September 14, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Roger, great info! I think that every small business owner is tempted to skip those vital beginning steps. Forecasting, planning, and having goals are all very important. Nice read.

  • Carla Bisong  On September 22, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Great article. Thank you for the insight.

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