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  • Writer's pictureMichael Nelson

11 Things You Should Give Up If You Want Your Business To Be Successful

Insanity Is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results.” Albert Einstein

Sometimes, in order to create the business you want to build, you don’t need to add more things — you need to give up on some of them.

There are certain things that are universal across business, which will make you successful if you give up on them, even though each of us might have a different definition of success.

You can give up on some of them today, while it might take a bit longer to give up on others.

1. Give Up The Feast Or Famine Approach To Marketing

“The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops the clock to save time.” Henry Ford

Having too many customers can easily overwhelm your business and impact your ability to deliver value. Too few customers can lead to desperation and poor decisions as you do anything to capture new customers.

The solution is to never stop marketing, but market in a way that eliminates both problems.

Here are three steps you can take to smooth out your marketing fluctuations and bring in the right customers in the right numbers at the right time.

1. Get clear on what works for marketing your business. Reduce marketing to the essentials.

2. Systemize your marketing. Use processes and automation to create a system to market your business. Eliminate the extras and become efficient.

3. Remember that everything begins and ends with your customers and solving their problems. Infuse your marketing, and your business, with that essential belief.

Never stop marketing.

2. Give Up Trying To Wear Every Hat In The Company

“When I meet with the founders of a new company, my advice is almost always, ‘Do fewer things.’ It’s true of partnerships, marketing opportunities, anything that’s taking up your time. The vast majority of things are distractions, and very few really matter to your success.” Evan Williams

There is a belief amongst small business owners that if they do a job themselves, that job is done “free.” They apply this belief to the other few key personnel in the business too.

This ignores the actual cost of trying to rely upon an unsustainable proposition. A business isn’t helped by a “Jack of all trades, master of none” mentality. Load somebody, including yourself, up with too many jobs and none are completed well.

When you find yourself in this situation, take a hard look at how you can improve. Consider how many hours a week it takes to fill a role and do it well. Add up the hours across roles and find out who, including yourself, is too overburdened to do a good job. Then delegate, redistribute roles, or hire the solution.

3. Give Up Allowing Your Customers And Employees To Define Your Company

“Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” Vince Lombardi

Successful businesses have a clear identity. Their employees know what the company does and for whom it does it. Customers know that if they need a particular problem solved, this is the company they go to.

Your business will have an identity or identities. If you don’t take the time to define the identity and branding, others will. Your employees will each see the company differently. Your customers will define you independently.

If you allow this to happen, your marketing will suffer. Your message won’t ring true with those that have already decided how they define you.

Your employees will just have a “job.”

Take the time to define yourself and watch the magic begin.

4. Give Up Marketing By Chance

“I would say, as an entrepreneur everything you do — every action you take in product development, in marketing, every conversation you have, everything you do — is an experiment. If you can conceptualize your work not as building features, not as launching campaigns, but as running experiments, you can get radically more done with less effort.” Eric Ries

Test a variety of marketing approaches and measure the outcomes. Follow the success.

Repeat and improve the marketing that works for you and focus on three types of marketing at a time. By using several techniques, you avoid putting all of your eggs into one basket and diversify while reducing risk.

Test an idea. Launch a campaign after the test works. Measure the results. Improve. Repeat.

Ideas for marketing — digital ads on search engines, social media marketing, Craigslist, Angie’s List, speaking, radio, postcards, referral bonuses, networking, search engine marketing, blogging, email marketing, etc.

5. Give Up Guessing About Data

“The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.” Carly Fiorina

Understanding your business data as it relates to outcomes, goals, costs, etc. is hugely important to making good business decisions. Understanding data makes your life so much easier.

Measure what is important. Not everything that you can measure is important. Review your goals and pick out the few critical pieces of data that will tell you if you are succeeding. Don’t drown yourself in data and pretend you can use it, pick out the key pieces and focus on them.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist. Simple data that you can track using Excel can be very powerful for your business. Collect it at regular intervals, analyze it the same way, and use it to help you make your decisions and measure success.

You still have to make decisions, but powering up your intuition with data will make it easier to make the right decision quickly.

6. Give Up Trying to Beg Your Network for More Business

“You can’t get blood from a stone.” Giovanni Torriano

Many of us launched our businesses with a few clients from our immediate networks. It’s a great resource to use to get going and transition into being a business owner.

The challenge is when you don’t figure out what three other types of marketing you want to develop during your initial boost of business from your network.

If you keep returning to your networking connections looking for more work, you’ll lose the connections. They can only help so much, and if you keep asking, you’ll be slowly evicted from the network.

Instead, use your network in conjunction with your three other types of marketing. Don’t ask your network for work/more work but ask them to refer you to people that could use your solution.

Your networks ultimate value is realized when you expand into all of their networks.

7. Give Up Reinventing the Wheel

“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” W. Edwards Deming

If you don’t have processes, then your business results will be random. You might be OK when you are very small, but as you grow the problems will show up. Everybody will accomplish work in a different manner.

Some people will have great ideas and do well, but those ideas rely on luck to make it to other people. Some people will struggle to solve a problem that somebody else already solved.

When you figure out how to do something in your business, take the time to document the process. You don’t have to go into excruciating detail, even a list of steps will often make a big difference.

Solving the same problem multiple times or working inefficiency will cost you money.

8. Give Up The Idea That Culture Doesn’t Matter

“I have a foundational belief that business results start with culture and your people.” Douglas Conant

Companies are people. The best companies are teams or have a family-feel to them. Their people work together toward common goals, and they operate with a set of values and standards that they all share.

Pick your company values. Decide who you are or will become. Proudly share what your company stands. If you live it, it will have a dramatic positive impact on your business results and how your employees view the company.

Don’t think that because you know what the culture and values of your company are that your employees and customers understand it too. You must make it clear and also live those values every day.

You will start to attract the right kind of customer for you. Customers that aren’t appropriate for you will self-select themselves away. That alone will save you money and headaches.

You will find that you will also start to attract more of the right kind of people for your company and your employees will recommend you to their friends. There is nothing more valuable to a company than dedicated and talented people.

“Values can set a company apart from the competition by clarifying its identity and serving as a rallying point for employees. But coming up with strong values — and sticking to them — requires real guts”. Patrick Lencioni

9. Give Up Thinking that Profitable Businesses Can’t Fail

“29% of startups fail because of a cash crises (2nd highest reason for failure).” CB Insights

Customers and orders are great until you have a cash crisis. Frequently, you’ll have to pay for labor, inventory, delivery, etc. up front, but your customers may have 30–90 days to pay you for your products and services.

This gap between revenue and cost can cause your company to have a cash flow problem that is actually made worse by more customers or orders.

Service companies may have it a bit easier, but you still have to pay your employees, and that can happen 30–60 days before the revenue arrives.

How can you avoid becoming a victim of your success?

1. Be ruthless with your overhead. Don’t get caught up in bigger spaces, more inventory, hiring people before they are needed, etc. Watch your cash-flow like a hawk.

2. Establish a line of credit long before you need it. Then you can include it in your calculations and plan for the impact of business.

3. When you can’t take a new order or add a new customer without taking a big risk, know when to say no. Try to shift the business down the road a bit and be ready to let the customer walk away if needed.

10. Give Up Thinking You Can Succeed Without Strategy

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Lewis Carroll

You have to use your resources wisely. You only have so much capital you can spend, only so many employee hours to allocate, and only so many hours in the day/week that you can spend on your business.

Spend your resources where they matter.

You need a path. You must define a high-level vision of what the company will do and also what the company will do for you in your life. Use that information to set one to three goals for the company for the upcoming year or two.

Then take your goals and figure out how you will reach them. How will you spend your money? What will you have your people do? How will you track progress towards your goals?

Answer these questions and take action and you will avoid leaving your success to fate.

“Sound strategy starts with having the right goal.” Michael Porter

11. Give Up Micromanagement

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” Gen. George S. Patton

Hire the right people who are a match for your company culture and vision and set them loose. They will surprise you with how creative, hard-working, and resourceful they will be.

Conversely, micromanage your people, and they will quit, you will lose money, and you will start to feel the pressure of trying to do everything. If you don’t nip this trend in the bud, you may find yourself believing that your problems are caused by everybody else instead of yourself.

If you actually need to micromanage somebody to get them to do the right stuff, then you’ve hired the wrong person for the position or your company.

No company grows consistently and constantly delights customers if a single brain is trying to control a dozen people.

Systems thinking has a succinct view on the dangers of what you do now and what you hope to accomplish in the long-term. The warning systems thinking provides is that the short-term effects and long-term effects of an action are often different and often opposite.

In other words, micromanage at your own risk.

What would you add to the list?

Click here to schedule a 15-minute strategy session focused on creating a few ideas to help you get unstuck. The session is free and is an informal chat with zero pressure or sales.

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