“I’m a small business, how do I take it to the next level?”

next level, ladder, climb, business

It’s the climb…

It’s one of the questions I get all the time when I’m speaking with small business owners, “How do I get to the next level?” The ‘next level’ is a pretty vague statement, but let’s work with it a bit.

As an owner, there are thousands of thoughts clouding your head on a daily basis of what to do next. “Should I expand the warehouse, purchase a new facility, bring in another line of product, hire a marketing person,” etc…etc…

There is no wrong answer in this scenario, but whatever you choose to do, you have to do it full on, and be prepared for what happens if it fails.

One of the best ways to figure out what to do next is to do the ‘Force Field Analysis.’ Take a piece of paper, and draw a horizontal line. Mark it as “Day 1.” Then draw three arrows going up from that line, and draw another line. Label it “Today.” Then ask yourself, “What are three things that took me from Day 1 to where I am today?”

Then draw another horizontal line above the “Today” line, and label it “Next Level.” Draw three arrows down from this line, then ask yourself, “What are three things preventing me from getting to the next level?”

This will clear your mind, and allow you to focus in on what’s really important. Then circle one of those items, and devote your time to it. The ‘Force Field Analysis’ may not be the right thing for you, but I’ve found it to work time, and time again. Google ‘Force Field Analysis’ to see what I’m talking about. This is a great exercise to curb ‘analysis paralysis.’

If you’re still having a difficult time figuring out what to do next, ask an employee or someone who you trust to give you open, honest feedback.

If all else fails, you can always ask a mentor of yours (more on that here) or call up a business you respect, and ask them what they would do in your situation.

Or you could always shoot me an email at effumarketing@gmail.com. I read every message, and I’d be happy to help, as long as you aren’t an asshole.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

PS. I think this post sets the record for most quotation marks in an article under 500 words.

I’m a small business, where do I go for help?

Help, I need help, small business help

HELP!

80% of businesses will close their doors within the first five years. I heard this stat yesterday, and I’m not going to take the time to Google it right now.

I don’t know the main cause for the above, but I can almost guarantee it has to do with ego. If you’re running a business, you think you’re the best, you can do no wrong, etc… etc… Unfortunately, the general public doesn’t think about you in this way.

It’s similar in the technology startup world. “Dude, did you hear about what we’re doing? Ya, we’re going to change the world!” When in reality, only 1 in 10 statups ever take off, and out of those, very few will ‘change the world.’ It doesn’t matter if you went to an Ivy League school, or you have this crazy business acumen, 1 in 10 will be successful past a few years.

When I was starting out, I thought I knew it all, and I didn’t need help. Wow! Was I ever wrong. The world slapped me in the face on numerous occasions. Then, I checked my ego, and started to ask for help.

There are many routes you can go to find help. I’m not going to list all of them here, but the below items are what I’ve found to be the most powerful for myself, and others I’ve spoken with.

1) Find someone you know who currently runs a successful business, and ask to ‘pick their brain.’ Even if you don’t know this person, pick up the phone, shoot them an email, or connect with them through social media. Mention you’re a business owner, and you’re looking for help. This person could be a mentor for you. Once you have one mentor, don’t be afraid to ask for another. And don’t be afraid to ask someone who’s in a similar business to yours.

Quick anecdote – I recently was working with a startup, and found a direct competitor in their lane of business. I said we should reach out to this competitor to get an idea of the challenges, opportunities, etc… Of course, there was resistance from this startup. “They’re our competitor, why would they help us?” #1 – people like being asked for advice. #2 – you’re trying to grow the market, and I’m positive they’d like to grow their market / revenues just as you would. So, we reached out, and within 15 minutes we had a response, and set up a Skype chat.

2) Read – this has been the most effective for me. I usually comb through my feeds every morning, and read every night before I go to bed. If I find an interesting article or book – I usually try to reach out to its author to again, ‘pick their brain.’

By the way, if you’re looking for a decent script to reach out to just about anyone – feel free to shoot me an email at effUmarketing@gmail.com.

3) Do the things you don’t like doing. This was the pitfall with my dad. He has his own business, but he had to shut down his storefront due to numerous reasons, but mainly due to his stubbornness in only doing what he wanted to do. He didn’t like the accounting aspect, so he let it slide; therefore cash flow started to hurt, and BAM! CREDITORS! If you don’t like accounting, find an accountant, if you don’t like selling, find a salesperson, if you can’t afford the aforementioned, suck it up, and DO IT!

Finally, I’ve also found this site to be very helpful when it comes to the areas of any / all small businesses. It’s small business owners, helping small business owners. Check it out at www.businessingmag.com.

As always, you can reach out to me on Twitter, LinkedIn or email at effUmarketing@gmail.com. I read every message.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft