Part 2 – Today is the WHY…
If you don’t pay attention to your business, your business isn’t going to PAY YOU!
When five and a half feet of the Atlantic Ocean washes through your property, you should take it as a sign. I had to take it as an opportunity to look at what we had been doing and where our future would be.
At the time Superstorm Sandy hit, we had been working for 19 years. In those nineteen years, we had hard times, good times, very hard times, really great times but consistency was non-existent. Every day was a melange of “What’s next?” and “What else could go wrong?” Things came out of nowhere as well as things that we knew we could not avoid – things that put strain on our staff, my partner and me. But work, we did and kept our heads down and our noses to the grindstone.
Because the trials of the day (you know, the thing we say “The job has to be done”), become all consuming, customers need to be served, bills need to be paid, etc., we as business owners keep going. Rarely, small business owners, and in particular mini and micro business owners, pay attention to the BUSINESS side of their business. If they are really small, they do everything themselves if they get to it. Usually, that means the financial health of the business is not even touched until sometime in the middle of January when your accountant says, “By the way, don’t forget, we have to have everything done by March 15.” In our business, we went into panic mode right after we got that call and then, it was a mad scramble to find the time to get receipts, invoices, bank statements, etc. together in enough time.
Truth be told, we really didn’t have the first clue about our company’s financial health nor did we have any idea where we would be a few years from whatever point we were at. The plain truth – we made money but whenever we had an opportunity to save any thing, some shoe would drop and out the profit would go!
In 2014, that changed with my acceptance into the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Initiative. This program changed the way I looked at my business from the first day I walked into the classroom. The faculty leaders at La Guardia Community College told us that we had to stop working in our business – as business owners, we were supposed to be working ON our business. This post’s message is just that – if you don’t pay attention to what is going on with your businesses finances and vision plan (including branding, marketing, training and social responsibility), you cannot possibly be geared for a successful future.
Pay attention to what the business is saying to you through your company’s financial reports, employee communications, customer feedback and incomplete plans. Check in on the operational aspect of the business: successes and “incompletes” (never say “failures”) have to be reviewed to see how things were measured, what worked and what didn’t. In my case, and for the other 30 people in that first classroom I walked into at GS10KSB, the value of a mentor or a business coach served to put things in perspective.
You wear glasses to help you see better; you may have had a tutor when you were a student in school – and everyone has had to study for some test they needed to pass. As a business owner, don’t put your head in the sand and let the lawyers and accountants do the work for you – be an active part, know how to read your financials, learn how to make a financial plan and a vision plan for your future. And if you need a little help, don’t be afraid to ask.
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