Exactly. Your business is near and dear to you, yes. But it’s not a baby, so stop treating it like one.
When it comes to your small business, you must always act as an investor and a manager…not a nurturer. Investors and managers look objectively at all aspects of a business. They make smart decisions to support goals for market penetration, revenue growth and innovation. Investors and managers don’t get tangled in personal sentimentality when reviewing the books, productivity or the bottom line.
I’ve seen many business owners who inadvertently fall into the “nurturer” mode. They get so close to their operations that they become parental over the business—overly proud and protective—and lose objectivity. “I don’t care that there are 17 competitors in the market doing it better and faster, my business is special. How can any customer not love my business?!”
Recently, I connected with a fellow with a web-based start-up company. He was looking for help with branding and online promotion, and I’d come recommended to him for those tasks. Within the first 10 minutes of the conversation, I knew I’d be declining this ‘opportunity’, as it was abundantly clear this fellow was acting more like a proud papa than a discerning business person.
First of all, the business idea was not at all unique, yet the owner spoke as if it were the greatest idea since sliced bread. He blew off the full grown businesses already doing what he was setting out to do in the market, acting as if his bald, fussy infant of a business would top ’em in no time. Then he shared that he’d already dissolved relationships with two other marketing professionals because he had been displeased with their creativity. That’s the “only what’s best for my baby” syndrome. I felt like he was looking for a nanny, not a business partner.
As I looked at that prospect, I thought like an investor. Was that idea one that I believe in enough to devote my time to, regardless of the immediate pay that might be involved? With all the other work on my plate, would I really want to carve part of my time to participate in the development of this business? “No” was the answer on all accounts; I want to work on business that calls upon my branding leadership, not my babysitting skills.
I haven’t blogged in a long while because I’ve been in the throes of launching another new business and have really had to focus my time accordingly. Early on in this new endeavor, I pitched to some investor groups as I sought options to fund the business. Though I was ultimately able to bootstrap the launch, I can’t hardly begin to place a value on what I learned by presenting to investors.
Of course, I’ve been enthused by the prospect of this new biz, and I can sing the praises of my idea all the livelong day. However, investors demand to know how the idea will make money in the short and long term; they demand to know the competitive landscape and the model for sustained success. They have to know that you’ve thought 20 steps ahead and sussed through potential barriers and problems to market entrance and progression. in presenting to investors, I had to think like them, and that served me and my business idea very well.
Trust me, I know that owning a business is an innately personal endeavor. You live and breathe it, pour your thoughts, creativity, energy and money into it, and you often align your identity with its success…or its struggles. You and the business you own are often perceived as one in the same.
Though the world may not see a discernible demarcation between the business owner and the business itself, you’ve got to keep a clear perspective. Business is ultimately just that..business. Unless you count becoming overly emotionally involved in your work as part of being successful, don’t hold your business tight against you like a helpless baby. Like an investor, question everything, then groom your biz, grow it and make it work for you. If the biz doesn’t perform, let it go, and find the next opportunity.
That’s how to take small biz big time!
Thanks for reading!