There are many great business owners who have fallen out of love with their business. They love being in business, but they just hate doing all of the stuff that a business requires, like hiring and firing staff, billing and filing government forms. They didn’t go into business for themselves to do all of this “stuff”; they went into business because they had an idea for a unique product or service that offered a significant improvement, or they had a passion about improving some condition of our lives and the communities in which we live.
At the root of this dissatisfaction and frustration is a business that hasn’t grown large enough so that the operational functions can be outsourced or assigned to another staff member. This tipping point generally comes when the business is two or more years old, has less than $2 million in gross revenue, and is owner managed. It is a rut, and many businesses get stuck in it. It is ugly, frustrating and discouraging, and is the demise of many otherwise would be successful businesses. Owners of an “ugly” business may get so frustrated they start looking to sell or just give up and shut the doors. “While either of these options will eliminate the pain, they aren’t the only option,” explains Chuck Boyce, an entrepreneur himself, who has also traversed this terrain.
Getting out of this “ugly” pit requires a different perspective. When a business owner has become consumed by frustration and discouragement, it is like being in a pit. All he can see is dark walls of problems, unachieved goals, and ultimate defeat. That small light of hope and opportunity at the top of the pit seems so far away and no longer achievable. A fresh set of eyes can help.
One who has a fresh perspective can ask the most important questions; questions that are essential for an overall assessment of the operations, including questions about the operating procedures, the business strategy, the marketing strategy, the mission, vision and culture of the organization, as well as an analysis of the competition. For many entrepreneurs, starting a business is only about launching their idea – giving birth to a product or service, or establishing a mission. For a business to become successful it must be sustainable and that requires staff, process, and the engagement and commitment of all stakeholders. This is the tipping point where things get “ugly” and where many business owners get stuck. It is because they have to relinquish control, which is not easy because it has been their hands on the steering wheel that has driven the business to the level of success thus far achieved.
A business coach, who has a fresh perspective and relevant insight, can help define how to maintain control without having to do everything yourself. “Owner managers often get stuck because they can’t see the forest for the trees,” says Boyce. “They are so busy fighting the day-to-day alligators that they forget they went in to drain the swamp.” It is that loss of the big picture vision that entrepreneurs started with, but quickly lost during the process of execution that derails them. A business coach can help connect the entrepreneur’s vision with the “dots of execution,” and enable the development of clearly defined operational procedures and processes, strategies and tactics, and culture and structure that will result in a sustainable and successful long term business.
Although a frustrated owner might be able to craft a plan to get things back on track, and perhaps even execute those plans, a collaborative and trusting relationship with a business coach, who has been down this road, can save time, frustration, trials and errors, and produce the positive results that entrepreneurs wanted from the outset.