I have worked in the B2B space almost my entire career and met with tens of thousands of small business owners. This has given me a profound admiration for anyone who has the courage to live the life of a self-employed person. There is a constant level of stress that the non-self-employed cannot fathom. The buck always stops with that individual. There are few safety nets and loads of risk, every single day.
My exposure to small business owners has also provided me with a lot of insight into why they succeed, and why they fail. The quicksand of small business is almost always trying to do everything at once, and therefore, doing nothing really well.
I learn a lot from my clients, and the lesson I’ve been most struck by lately is how important it is for small business owners to let some things go. To admit that there are some things that they just don’t have the resources to do properly at a specific time. The client who recently reinforced this lesson for me uses online content as a primary source to generate leads over the long term, to educate his followers, and to build his personal brand. For a long, long time I’ve borderline harassed him over his lack of an overall content and SEO strategy. And he’s repeatedly responded that he was a blunt force instrument and it was working for him; he knew that eventually he would need to be more strategic and SEO minded, but he had limited time and resources, so he was focused on what was most important, creating good content.
And guess what? You won’t hear this often on this blog, but he was right and I was wrong.
The single greatest mistake I’ve made in my own business (and I’ve watched others make) is trying to do everything at once when I didn’t have the time or resources to do all of them well. This diluted my capabilities across the board and meant that I wasn’t doing the most important things well. I wasn’t doing anything well. The old cliche “walk before you run” certainly fits here.
So, how do you change course and start focusing on doing the right things well? First, by understanding what is most important and turning everything else off. Most of us know what’s most important to our business – what generates leads and revenue. Focus on that and shut off all of the other noise. If it makes you feel better, make a list with an order of priorities and know that, if you do the important things well, the day will come where you can indeed spend money on the things further down your list.