Common pitfalls that thwart many business owners, and drown many businesses, are things that many people never think of. Why? Because they’re based on some simple skills that may be overlooked exactly because they’re so basic.
This package of four skills are essential when you are trying to take marketing ideas you’ve learned over the years and make them actionable projects in your business. If you feel frustrated because something is holding YOU back, you might want to take a look at this skillset and assess whether one or more of them could use honing. What are they? I’m talking about discipline, focus, organization and execution. Are you falling short with one of these important skills? Is that shortfall keeping you from realizing your dreams?
You are the boss. You set the timeline, the vision, the agenda, and you are ultimately responsible for the success of your business. This is all great, but when it comes to honing the four skills mentioned above, this autonomy can present a problem if you’re not on top of things. As an employee in a traditional workplace you’d have a boss who would evaluate your execution of projects and assess your skills. In that situation that boss would likely be pushing you, providing feedback and keeping you from getting off track. As a business owner, however, there is no such person. Therefore, you not only need to create a solid infrastructure for your customers and employees, but also for yourself as the leader of the organization. Business owners are BUSY people! But this is something you NEED to find time for. Remember, the growth of your business correlates with your skill set, so you must be able to objectively assess if there is a deficit, and if there is, make sure you create the support you need.
Many business owners rely on business coaches or consultants to provide the objective oversight that helps keep them on track. What’s great about leveraging a coach is you don’t have to keep them on staff; they can be a surge resource that you only use for a few months, or when you need them. Another option for creating this support for yourself is putting together a board of directors for your business. This board doesn’t have to be anything too formal; it could be some friends or colleagues who meet with you four times a year to review your business and success. Even if you are a solopreneur, you can benefit from having a few people that you check in with two or three times a year to talk about the challenges, struggles and successes in your business. This sounding board will help you see yourself clearly and keep you accountable.
Don’t let the simplicity of the four essential skills fool you into dismissing them. Give them the time and attention they deserve, and your business will thank you for it.
If you are struggling with one or more of the four essential skills, here are a few suggestions for how you can take control:
- Own it. Don’t be afraid to admit the things you struggle with. Often our pride as business owners makes it hard for us to exist in a vulnerable space. However, this self-reflection is critical, especially in the early years of a business. Bad habits can take their toll on employees and deplete valuable resources. So do a quick assessment of where you rank with each of these skills. I recommend using a SWOT analysis for each one as a starting point for your assessment. In addition, you could conduct a survey or gather feedback from employees to get another, perhaps more objective, view.
- When you figure out where you are lacking make a plan to get the training you need. You don’t have to do a complete overhaul, but instead make a commitment to yourself to drive your own growth each year. So when you set your business goals at the beginning of each year, add a few goals to grow your own leadership skills. This way you will be strengthening your business from every angle.
- If you don’t have a board or a coach in place, make a plan to get one to help drive accountability.
This article first appeared in the November 2016 issue of Vegan Lifestyle Magazine. You can download full issues of the magazine here: