This is the last of a series of articles looking at positive mindsets for a positive future. Over the last few weeks I have been exploring some of the most frequent questions I get asked as a business coach and focus on both the challenges and opportunities each one presents.
No-one starts their own business thinking it will be easy. There will be many challenges along the way. Very often the difference between business success and failure will depend entirely on how you approach those challenges and reframe them into opportunities.
During this series I have been looking at a number of issues relevant to all SMEs and identify both the opportunities and challenges associated with each issue. Topics covered have included planning; staff and recruitment; customers and service; marketing; competition; new products and services; being well organised; collaborating with others; understanding and analysing risk; managing the money; going into business with family or friends; grants, loans and investment; expansion and growth; technology and exporting.
Is your finger on the pulse of your business?
Setting up and running a small business is a process full of challenges and opportunities. Sometimes it might feel as if the challenges outweigh the opportunities! But there are always opportunities in everything we do – we just need to search them out.
Before you start your business and then maybe every 6 months explore the following four points – if you have staff or business partners then involve them. A mentor or coach can be a useful guide at this stage.
Firstly, identify everything you and your team are good at – your knowledge, experience, attitudes, contacts, skills, training, values and personal convictions – anything that constitutes a strength. Your strengths are your foundations – your business will always be built on them. You need to use your strengths to help you take advantage of the opportunities available to you.
Secondly, what are you and your team not so good at - these are your weaknesses. Weaknesses come in all shapes and sizes. You need to focus on those that are likely to get in the way of you taking full advantage of the opportunities open to you.
Thirdly, brainstorm the opportunities available to your business right now. To do this well you need an open mind and a creative outlook where you can see possibilities, even if they are unclear and unformed. Opportunities might be next door or on the other side of the world !
Finally, what might threaten the very existence of your business? This may be weaknesses that get out of control or external factors that you have no control over like weather related events or global crises. An internal threat for example could be poor health or communication/ relationship breakdown.
By doing this process regularly with your key people you will keep your finger on the pulse of your business – you will be able to build on your strengths, address your weaknesses, grasp your opportunities and do your best to alleviate threats. It is also a great team building tool and good fun!! You might also want to involve a customer or two.
Running a successful business does not mean just opening the doors, doing a series of activities, serving customers and closing again in the evening! Your business is a living organism and needs looking after – if you do not water plants they die. That is the same with your businesses.
Identify your challenges and address them – procrastination is not a good business strategy!! While you are busy doing nothing, your competition will be busy taking your customers. Get help if needed. Use a mentor or advisor or another business owner. You are unlikely to be the only one with a particular challenge and two or more heads are always better than one. Einstein said that when confronted with a problem he would spend 55 minutes defining it and five minutes on action. We all have a tendency to act too quickly.
Invest the time in reviewing your challenges and opportunities, create plans, seek advice and feedback then take action. Make sure to evaluate and monitor all your actions – learn from those that do not work and celebrate those that do.
If you need help with identifying your own opportunities and challenges or you want some feedback on your own practices, then please get in touch.
Good luck – I’ll be back in a few weeks with a new series. Enjoy a relaxing break over Christmas and the New Year and may 2022 be the best yet !
Breadfruit Consulting (www.breadfruitconsulting.com) is a Vanuatu-based business providing advice, training, coaching, and mentoring to businesses throughout the Pacific islands. Breadfruit specialises in a range of business development activities including ‘business continuity planning and action’, helping businesses to survive in a crisis, designing and starting new, sustainable businesses. Contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Founding partner at Breadfruit Consulting.