Once upon a time we all lived in small towns, or at least tight-knit communities and neighborhoods where losing to the competition wasn’t even a consideration. If you needed your hair cut you’d go to Hank’s Barber Shop, you bought your sandwiches from Sidoti’s Deli, and the pharmacy on the corner didn’t belong to Walgreens.
Businesses didn’t have to market, network, advertise, tweet or blog about their services to get and keep their customers. They offered their goods and services, and people came for them. It’s how business was done.
That was then. Welcome to the modern world! If you think you can rely on your business surviving the old fashioned way, where people buy from you because they always have, stop and think again! Even if you’re located in a sparsely populated burg, the town folk now have the internet, Iphones and all kinds of other techy gadgets… they can find it cheaper, better and quicker on Amazon if you don’t get your head in the game and convince them they want their money flowing in your direction.
Are you going to just trust fate? You basically have two choices: To be passive or to be proactive. Obviously choosing to do nothing is about as passive as you can get… might as well throw in the towel now and save yourself the hassle and grief. If you are immobile and stuck, you are in serious trouble. The protective bubble you are wrapped in may feel comfy, but this cloak is indeed deceiving. You are trapped in a time warp and will eventually lose your butt to the competition. Make sure these obvious issues don’t apply to you:
- RESISTING TECHNOLOGY: This is how you’ve always done things and this is how it shall be done. You just keep it status quo and let the other guys use the new technology and processes. Stay in this time warp and watch your clients high tail it away from you quicker than you can say 8-track tape or plastic pink yard flamingo.
- AVOIDING SOCIAL MEDIA: Can you say “FREE ADVERTISING”? If you don’t have time to post things yourself, find someone to do it for you. Take advantage of all the resources that are available. Keep your name out there. Let people look for YOU to see what you have to say… Don’t let them find your competitors because you don’t want to take the time…
- TRYING TO DO EVERYTHING YOURSELF: Why would you try to do it all? Delegate! If you can’t afford a staff, or if you don’t want one, at least get a Virtual Assistant to do the things you don’t like to do (or that suck up all your time!)
- USING A ROLODEX: Seriously? How about a CRM or at the very least pop those numbers into your phone! Who even has a Rolodex anymore?!
- GETTING THE SAME RESULTS AND STILL DOING IT THE SAME WAY: Hello… McFly! If what you have done has been ineffectual, or at the very least yielding minimal results, why are you doing it the same way again and again and again? Find what works! Move on from what you have been doing so you don’t lose to the competition.
- FORGETTING YOUR PURPOSE: Remember why you wanted to be an entrepreneur. Maybe it’s time to reevaluate those goals and recall what got you onto the path of being a small business owner in the first place.
- NOT NETWORKING: You say you’re not a people person? Well who do you think buys your goods and services? Exactly! Step outside your comfort zone and put yourself out there. Use the opportunity to rub elbows with some people who may be able to help you grow your business. Listen to other people… what are their stories?
- LIVING BY THE CLOCK: Business ownership is not for the meek. It’s also not for the basic nine-to-fiver. If you’re looking for a 9-5 gig, perhaps being an entrepreneur isn’t your thing. You don’t have to breathe business 24/7, but you have to be open to the occasional early phone call or late appointment if you want your business to thrive.
- STAYING DISORGANIZED: Simple things like losing phone numbers, forgetting appointments and not being able to find important documentation will destroy you. Can’t do it alone? Get a VA to help you get your act together. Don’t let your ADD stand in the way of your personal and professional success.
- RANDOMLY SWITCHING IT UP: Switching it up from time to time may sound like a good thing, but you need to let your ideas come to fruition too. Constantly changing things around will not let you get an accurate feel for what works and what doesn’t. Make sure you are constantly evaluating progress.
- KEEPING YOUR POSSE: Are some of your partners, staff or even the vendors holding you back? You may love them but make certain you share the same goals and passion. If not figure out an amicable way to go your own way. Keeping your posse when they no longer share your dream is a big mistake.
- ALWAYS PLAYING IT SAFE: You need to take a risk from time to time. Look around you. What is your competition doing? Why are you playing it so safe that you are blending into the background?
Being an entrepreneur takes courage. It takes knowing when to walk, when to sprint, and when it’s time to run away from the habits that have you stuck… It’s knowing how to get out of your own way, how to move on, and how to get out of the time warp before you lose to the competition.