How confident are you in your business decisions?
This question can be a tricky one, especially in today’s economic climate.
“There is a lack of confidence among business owners right now,” said Jennifer Crews, managing partner at Pearl Advisory Partners LLC, a general management consultancy based in Asbury Park, N.J. “People are afraid to do anything with any element of risk.”
Here are a few tips on how to restore your business confidence:
Focus on what you can control
“This is really important and hard to do when things are stressful,” said Crews. “Focus on the things you can impact. You can’t change the fact that consumers aren’t spending; you can’t change the dynamics of the economy.
“If you are looking to be more profitable, look at areas of your business where waste can be eliminated. Once you focus only on what you can control, you will be able to think creatively.”
Reconnect with your mission
“A lot of small business owners will get disconnected with the reason they started their business in the first place; they will get caught up in day-to-day tasks,” said Paul Keetch, chief excitement officer for Make Anything Work, a small business coaching and training company based in Vancouver, B.C. “Reconnecting with that original purpose will reenergize someone with a shaken confidence; it will provide them with sustaining energy when they need it most.”
Turn obstacles into opportunities
“Any obstacle can be turned on its head,” said Crews. “For example, I have a client who has an unique business in an urban area and a huge company and direct competitor, just moved into town. This could be seen as a problem, but now my client is forging a strategic partnership with that business.
“You can let obstacles derail your business or find a way to use them to push your business forward.”
“My motto is ‘ready, fire, aim,’ said Frank Pucher, owner of Fitness 121 Personal Training in Roseland, N.J. “Stop waiting for the perfect time. If you are always aiming, you are going to miss the shot. There is no perfect time. Think about the time you started your business. It was in your heart and that is why you made the leap.
“The reason for a lack of confidence is failure or the fear of failure. It is ok to make a mistake. As you make those mistakes and become comfortable moving forward, you will gain more confidence.”
“Anytime you plan to spend money, you need to have a good idea of what outcome you expect,” Crews said. “Make sure every dollar is making money for you. Ask questions before you spend money; it will make you focus your resources better.
“For example, when you spend budget on marketing and promotions, be mindful of what kind of return you expect.”
Make a small change
“Focus on making a minor change that may boost your morale and that of your employees,” advised Andra L. Watkins, CMC, owner and president of POSITUS Consulting LLC, a business development consultancy based in Charleston, S.C. “You could give your employees a small raise, for example.
“Minor changes have less potential of backfiring. Focusing on something small that can still make a difference in your business can give you the confidence you need.”
“Find other small business owners and a create a regular mastermind group where you can get together to support each other, problem solve, generate ideas, and share best practices,” advised Keetch. “They will understand what you are going through.”
“Other business owners bring you a fresh perspective,” she said. “Sometimes when you are really close to something, it is difficult to see it for what it really is. That perspective can be invaluable.”
Focus on marketing
“The marketing side of the business is a portion many business owners neglect when they are in an economic environment that is less than stellar,” said Shawn Brodof, MBA, president and head coach at Clarity Coaching based in Charlotte, N.C. “Marketing is one area to continue, not cut back on. It is the gas that will run your business’s engine. You aren’t going anywhere without it.”
Research your performance data
“Data can really help you when you don’t know what to do,” Crews said. “Not just data on your financials, but data on the dynamics of your business—which products are performing well, etc.
“Data will give you clues on where you can grow. I had a client who wasn’t bringing in the sales she wanted, so she looked at the data on how people navigated her site. She found out it wasn’t as user-friendly as she thought, which was preventing customers from taking advantage of her product. She reconfigured the site and ended up growing her sales 117 percent in the first year after the change.”
Set tiered goals
“Business owners often don’t have specific outcomes in mind or set unrealistic expectations,” Keetch said. “Instead, try to set three goals: a target goal, minimum goal and mind-blowing goal.”
“The target goal will be a little more than what you think you can genuinely hit.”
“The minimum goal is what you will be just ok with.”
“The mind-blowing goal is something you can shoot for that will exceed your expectations.”
“If you miss your target goal, focus on your minimum goal. If you hit your target goal three weeks into the month, having that mind blowing goal in place will keep you motivated to keep moving through the final phase.”
“These goals will keep you energized, and by giving yourself a little leeway, they won’t allow you to lose all of your confidence.”
Katie Morell is a Chicago-based writer. She regularly contributes business, feature and travel articles to national and regional publications.