Don’t quit amid fear on plans of success
January 23, 2012
By Cindy Hartin, ASU-SBDC Assistant Director
SAN ANGELO, Texas — We all know the saying “Can’t see the forest for the trees.”
With all of our daily activities it can be difficult to focus on the big picture. But with a new year ahead of us, now is an excellent time to focus on the big picture of your business or your life.
I define the “big picture” as the meaning or purpose in my work and in my life. It is so easy to get immersed in the tasks and the “to do” lists in our day and ignore the whole picture. That big picture may seem too big or too much to deal with and so we go back to our day-to-day chores.
This seems to happen often in a small business. It’s easier and feels better to deal with the urgent tasks that can be done today, rather than the bigger important issues that don’t give us immediate gratification.
A small-business owner may be so absorbed in the daily activities of their business that they do not have the time or energy to commit to the business as a whole. Business owners should ask themselves, “Can I afford to lose sight of the big picture? Have I lost sight of the big picture?” Here is a process a business owner can use when looking at their business.
Write down five things in your business that worked well in the past year and then five things that you think didn’t work so well. The big picture doesn’t need to be a grand five-year plan. It can be a clear vision of what needs to be done to raise your business to the next level, by getting a good idea of what is working well, and what isn’t.
Be honest with yourself, and ask your employees or your customers. Feedback will help you better understand the strengths and weaknesses of your business.
From those 10 things, good and not so good, choose the top three and write a few words about why they are on the list. If one of the good things is your location, write down why your location is so good. Is it located on a busy street, can your customers find you quickly, does it have good parking, or is it because of the size of your location?
Do this for the not so good things in your business as well. If your inventory is a source of frustration, is it because it is too big, too small or never seems to have the right things?
Next, take the three not so good things on your list and choose the one that is most important to you and your business. Maybe it is your location. Or it could be some of the services you offer. Then write down ideas about how to change it.
One of the biggest reasons we don’t make changes in our life or our business is for fear of failure. We do not want to make the wrong choice.
But if this one thing is holding back your business, it is critical to change it. Sticking your head in the sand is not an option.
In your own business, I think, the hardest thing to do is discipline yourself. It is hard to be honest about your business and what is holding it back. Again, ask someone outside of your business for help with this step. At the Small Business Development Center, we help clients with this process. Someone from the outside can remain objective and can help you see the forest instead of just the trees.
Finally, make a plan. If you decide your business needs to make a change, create a plan to help overcome the fear of the change. Writing down the steps to make the change can help you think through the variables.
Making a big change like your location or services may seem like too much, but the steps to reach that goal are likely to be more manageable.
Changes to the big picture also take time, and patience is required.
But, by having a plan, it is easier to see progress as you take the steps you have identified, and focus on the individual tasks or trees as your forest gets bigger and better.
“Business Tips” was written by Cindy Hartin, CEBS Fellow, assistant director and Certified Business Adviser II, of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center. Contact her at Cynthia.Hartin@angelo.edu or 325-942-2098.