If you’ve been in business for more than 15 years, you know you need to change the way you do business if you want to continue down this road.
You’ve gained a ton of product knowledge and business experience over the years. This in itself it’s a big advantage over those coming new to the industry. But their big advantage over yours is that they are more likely to embrace the digital space from the get-go.
Making a change in your business is not an easy feat.
There are three things you need to avoid when you’re looking to make a change:
Thing To Avoid # 1: Telling Yourself This is The Way Things Are In This Business
Pretty much in every industry outside promotional products, small business owners are looking to develop an online presence to increase their sales. Their business development conversations revolve around how to get better at online marketing.
By contrast, in reading many distributor discussions about increasing sales, you would think they are stuck in the 90’s.
When someone asks for recommendations for getting more sales, the string of advice is limited to old school methods of the one-by-one cold calling approach. Rarely do you see anyone recommend anything having to do with online marketing.
If the online marketing topic happens to come up, most claim that it’s not like that in their business, and it’s not necessary.
Some things I hear:
“My clients are not in social media”
“I don’t want my clients searching, I want them to tell me what they want and I’ll find it for them”
“My clients have their computers blocked and can’t access their social media accounts at work”
“I can’t waste time on that, my time is better spent selling”
The harsh truth is that your prospects and clients ARE on social media. They LOVE to browse for products at their leisure. They check their social media accounts all-day long from their phones.
If you are not networking on social media you’ll never find clients that way. If you hide your website from your clients, they will see your competition online and go browse on their websites. And they’ll bring you requests for products from your competition.
If you are hiding your website from the search engines, you will miss the many people who are searching for a small distributor to partner with.
They’ll never find you because you are not there.
Try This Instead
Stop asking the wrong people for advice. Anyone who tells you to cold call because it’s how they built a million dollar business before the digital age, it’s not the person to model. No offense to those successful distributors, but that doesn’t work for someone in a growth stage today.
That’s not to say that you should stop the outbound approach altogether, but it must be integrated with the inbound method to generating qualified leads on a regular basis.
Thing To Avoid # 2: Telling Yourself You Don’t Have The Time to Make Changes
There is never enough time to get done all the things we want to get done. If you are anything like me, your list of things to do seems endless.
Every day when I plan my day, I choose the top 4-6 things -out of my endless list- that are most important to get done that day, but I’m lucky if I complete 2-3.
Things take longer than anticipated or unplanned to-dos come up that need to be taken care of right away. There goes the plan.
The thought of making a change when it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day just to meet your day-to-day demands can lead to excuses as “reasons” to leave everything as it is.
When you’re really busy with clients’ projects, you are spending numerous hours researching for presentations and quotes, and processing orders. There could be a sense of being busy enough as it is. But since you have not spent much time in marketing and sales, once those projects are complete, a slump is likely to happen.
Like the hamster in the wheel.
We all tell ourselves lies about time at one point or another. They serve as excuses for putting off important but hard decisions.
“After I’m done with X, I’ll have more time”
“I’ll have more time when X happens“
“If I could hire someone, I would have more time”
Although any of these statements could be true, most of the times are ways of justifying maintaining the status quo.
As a business owner, you are responsible for every aspect of your business. Sales, orders fulfillment, accounting, customer service, marketing, cleaning, you name it. They all fall on your lap. You probably feel overwhelmed at times by all the stuff on your plate. That feeling of being under constant pressure, so that even when you’re not at work you’re still stressed out.
Try This Instead
We all have the same numbers of hours in a day. The only difference is how we choose to spend them.
One of the biggest changes I made in my business was becoming obsessed with my calendar. I started scheduling my day on the calendar, allocating the amount of time each task would take. I also started blocking off time each week in advance to tackle specific areas of my business, including the strategic things. This one step brought a great sense of control, routines were born. Things stopped falling through the cracks.
Think about blocking the first hours of your day to work ON your business, as opposed to IN your business. Start small. Do it just once or twice a week. These hours are your best thinking hours, make the most of them!
Thing To Avoid # 3: Trying To Do it All Yourself
As business owners we are doers. Especially because we have to be mindful with our spend, we look to tackle tasks on our own. This works well for simpler tasks, but when a project involves many hours to setup and more hours of ongoing improvements or maintenance of some kind, planning to do it all ourselves is a recipe for keeping everything the way it is.
While I’m convinced that we must have the knowledge about how things work, hiring someone to set things up for you might be the difference between starting your new process in a week, or never.
Many times we focus on fixing things that are a consequence of a poor process, and until we don’t fix that, we will continue to run into similar problems.
Try This Instead
Every successful business owner has had a coach at some point. For me, I’ve hired coaches at various stages in my career, and each time it accelerated the pace towards achieving my goals. At this point, I have a fantastic “board of advisors” that consists of a handful of very smart and successful business owners – one of them just made the INC 5000 – Being an entrepreneur can get lonely, it’s necessary to have business people you trust in your closed circle.
You also need a “support team” to delegate to. Whether it’s outsourcing or your own in-house team, or a combination, there is no way to grow and scale by doing it all yourself. Bringing in the skills that you don’t have will be a game changer.
And the fast implementation will offset your costs, as you’ll start to see the results much faster.
Getting Off The Hamster Wheel
If you feel stuck in your business, the first step is to get a clear vision of what kind of business you want to build. Doing this uncovers a whole new layer. It gives you a 10,000-mile view of your business, where you see where you want to go, and where the bottlenecks are.
In order to solve the bottlenecks, believe there is a better way and you’ll be giving yourself permission to find solutions. I realize this is not very scientific, but I assure you, it opens up your mind to innovate.
As Henry Ford once said, whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right. That belief, paired with having a vision of your business, is a game changer. It will help you see the path ahead very clearly, along with ways to get there.
Lastly, real change requires action. Block time every week to work on your business. Break down the work that needs to be done in small chunks, prioritize, and complete a few tasks every week.
This way you are always moving your business forward.