Headless chicken syndrome – the curse of a growing business

So your business is up and running, orders are coming in, customers are keen to do business with you, and you find you have a demand for your product or service.

What a great place to be.

But, what if you find you can’t keep up – you’re running around like the proverbial headless chicken trying to keep everyone happy.

You’re bound to trip up, disappoint customers, lose control of your expenditure, and may even end up ill as a result of all the stress.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone, plenty more business owners struggle on through the tough growth stage of a business thinking they need to do everything to stay in control.

And here are some more indicators of business growing pains that shouldn’t be ignored:

  • Tight cash flow issues
  • Task management is out of control
  • Fire-fighting is a daily activity
  • Deadlines are missed
  • Staff don’t know what they should be doing first

It’s time to calm things down.

Stop and take a breath for a moment. A long deep breath that reaches to the depth of your stomach – then breathe out long and slow.

Feel better? Deep breathing is proven to calm the mind, it’s a great tonic in times of stress and a great tool to use in defence of your well-being.

You need a strategy to get you through this crucial stage, because beyond it lies a successful business with you at the helm, running it on your terms. So start with identifying where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

Accept that you can’t do everything, and identify what skill-sets are needed in your business that are best outsourced.

If you’re great at product innovation but poor at communication, hire a sales person so you can develop your products. If you prefer to be out there meeting new clients, and would rather not deal with the detail, hire an admin or personal assistant.

The key here is to play to your strengths. And outsourcing help needn’t mean a large financial outlay or committing to employing staff – there are plenty of freelancers in all business support roles willing to work flexibly to meet your needs.

It’s time to think about working on your business and not in it. Think strategically, review your business plan and check you’re on course to meet your objectives.

It can help at this stage to review your progress with an independent person – so you get an objective assessment of where you are and what you need to do to stay on track.

Remember growing pains are good, so long as you deal with them effectively.

Is your business reaching maturity? Read on...

Has the shine gone out of your business start up?

With all the excitement and passion you’ve thrown into your business idea, you’ve probably sailed through the first few months on the back of your enthusiasm alone.

But what if you’re now faced with some harsh realities and your business is under performing?
Have you paid yourself properly yet? Are you struggling to persuade customers to buy your product or service? And what if the only way to make money is to work an 18 hour day 7 days a week?

There are startling statistics out there – “80% of Business Start-ups fail” – you’ve probably seen them. And though it’s a scary statistic, there’s absolutely no reason why you should be part of it.

Enough of the scary stuff, let’s be positive and put you back in control.

Planning is the key. Without direction, how can you possibly know where you’re heading?

A plan gives you focus, targets, and impetus to keep going. It should be measurable, realistic, and thorough.
This is not the time to cut corners. Careful planning is the cornerstone of any successful business.

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A good plan includes:

  • Goals – you need to set financial goals, and assign timescales to them
  • Measurability – use milestones to assess progress
  • Action points – what do you/others need to do to attain your objectives?
  • Assignment of responsibility – who is responsible for each task – don’t leave anything to chance – make sure anyone involved in your business is fully aware of their responsibilities
  • Budgets – it’s important to understand your finances, and budget accordingly – this includes hidden expenses like taxes and professional fees – do you have the funds to run your business?
  • A marketing strategy – how are you going to let your customers know about your product or service. If your product is similar to others, what is your unique selling point? What marketing collateral do you need.
  • Identification of the target market and how they can be reached – who do you need to communicate with and what channels can you use to reach them effectively?
  • Additional human resources – who do you need to help you run your business – what skills are best outsourced, so you can focus on what you’re good at?

You started out with a vision, a plan will keep you on track to make that vision a reality.

Break down your plan into 4 key areas:
•    Business objectives – short, medium and long term
•    Sales
•    Marketing
•    Financial

Sounds like hard work? No one said running a business is easy, but it is rewarding. Put planning at the heart of your business, and you’ll be destined to make progress. And if you find your business is not going to plan – at least you’ll know about it and can make the necessary changes – review your plan regularly to ensure you’re still on track.

Is your business growing so fast you’re losing control? Read on