Roadblocks to Growth

October 9, 2007
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Most small businesses in America don’t work. Most small-business owners end up with an average every day job rather than the thriving, exciting enterprise they envisioned. The reason that most small businesses don’t grow is because of what I call F.T.I. or “Failure To Implement.” 

Most small businesses in America don’t work. Most small-business owners end up with an average every day job rather than the thriving, exciting enterprise they envisioned. The reason that most small businesses don’t grow is because of what I call F.T.I. or “Failure To Implement.” 

The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people do what unsuccessful people don’t. Not that they can’t, just that they don’t. Implementation is the biggest success factor there is. Nothing happens until something happens! And it is up to us to make it happen. Success is not by accident but by design. Often times the business owner knows what to do and how to do it, but they still don’t do it.

Why Do Most Small-Business Owners Fail To Implement?
F.T.I. occurs for a number of reasons, one being what we in the South call “puredee laziness.” I am originally from L.A. (Lower Alabama), and that’s a term you use when laziness goes to the very core! But I don’t think that laziness is the biggest reason for failure in the carpet cleaning industry.

Many in our industry are hard-working people. If you are like most people in this industry, you work day and night for your clients. You go the extra mile. But you just can’t seem to grow beyond your current level. There’s another old saying that goes “if you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten.”  So we have to do something different to get a different result. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing the same way over and over expecting a different result!” Even though Einstein is viewed as a scientist, he was really a mathematician, and the numbers don’t lie. If you do the formula the same way, you will get the same result.

 Several Reasons FTI Occurs
Other Interests. Maybe you are more interested in your hobbies than you are building your business. The truth is, you don’t love what you do. Maybe you love cleaning carpet but you don’t love building your business. We value what we do and we do what we value. A great way to find out what you value is to keep a time log for two weeks. Jot down how you use every hour of the day. After two weeks you will clearly see your patterns in black and white.

Family Problems. Maybe there are health issues or family problems that keep you from working on the business. There are many family situations that cannot (and should not) be avoided. Your family is more important than your business. You may not be able to change your circumstances, but you can choose how you respond to them. Maybe there is a different schedule you can keep. Maybe you can set up your business where others do things for you so that you don’t have to be there.

Lack of Focus. Maybe you are simply unfocused, unorganized, or so overwhelmed that it’s difficult to focus on something long enough to get anything done. Brush fires pop up that demand your attention, and the project you were working on goes by the wayside.

Learning the skill of “compartmentalizing” your mind and emotion is vital in a demanding environment. Don’t dwell on past events for prolonged periods. Let’s say that an employee damaged something and you are angry. You can choose to focus on the solution or to continue to dwell on the situation. The more time you take letting your emotions be in control, the less time you have to do something constructive. Set your mind on your best action at this point. Maybe nothing can be done right now, and you need to table it until you get more information or whatever. Get back to your action list immediately. Don’t let an event steal your production.

Lack of Motivation. Another huge problem facing small-business owners is “burn out.” Even highly successful business owners experience burn out and become unmotivated. You get worn out from fighting the fight every day. A constant stream of problems and uphill battles for long periods of time eventually take their toll. There are seven ways to stay excited listed here. But a word of caution: Motivation alone is not enough for long-term, sustained success.

The key to long-term success is inspiration. There is a difference between motivation and inspiration. Motivation is achieved through external means. Motivation can be negatively or positively charged. In other words, you only do things for one of two reasons: you have to do it or you want to do it. An example of negative motivation would be fear. If you couldn’t pay your rent and you were going to get evicted, there is motivation to find money somehow. Positive motivation comes in the form of reward – you want something, so you are willing to do what it takes to get it.

Inspiration comes from within. Have you ever noticed that people who have fast-growing businesses are excited? They are excited about life. They are excited about the possibilities even during the storms that come. Yes, inspiration is the key to massive implementation. So you have to ask yourself what inspires you. What really touches your heart? Is it being a hero to your clients? Is it serving the community? Is it doing ministry work? Do what inspires you. Realize also that there are things you will have to do that you don’t enjoy to experience the things that really turn you on. The good news is that a small business can be one of the most exciting success vehicles in the world. Keep your eye on the prize.

Seven Ways to Stay Inspired Through Difficult Times
If you find yourself in a rut, consider these seven ways to get yourself motivated again. Remember that these are “quick fix” items. To really get to where you want to go you have to discover your passion. What is it that you really love to do? Marketing? Sales? Technical? Serving people? Find your passion and pursue it. Maybe you don’t know what your passion is. Hopefully by keeping yourself “revved up” with these simple steps, you will make that discovery.

  1. Hire other people to do what you don’t like to do. Visionaries hate routine tasks. Other behavior styles love routine. They do not like change. If you are a true entrepreneur and have to do routine things every day, you will begin to loathe doing them and they won’t get done. If you are a person who wants everything to stay the same, you will have trouble growing because growth requires change. So bring in someone who can do the things you don’t like to do. Of course your business will have to bring in enough business to support them. Perhaps that can be your goal. Keep your eye on the prize.
  2. Change your routine. Change your schedule around, move your furniture around, go on vacation, take a day off, or schedule some time each day to do something you really love to do. Instead of viewing work as an evil interruption to your day because it is keeping you from doing what you love, view your pleasure time as your reward. Schedule your reward time, and look forward to it. My reward time is going to the beach. I wake up every day thinking about the beach. I know that is strange and I need therapy, but it’s true! I used to get so bummed out and discouraged because I wanted to be at the beach and didn’t want to be at “work.” Now, I always have a trip to the beach scheduled in advance and I look forward to that time. (In fact, it just so happens that today, I am writing this from the beach!)
  3. Make a decision. Many business owners are just burned out. It seems impossible to get excited again. I really know that pain. The reason I started my speaking and marketing business is because I got bored running the business. Over time, I really got burned out to the point that I did not want to be there at all. The good news is that I didn’t have to be there much. The bad news is that as a result, your business doesn’t grow because you are not excited about what you are doing. You have to love what you do. This is why my marketing business is growing by leaps and bounds. Fortunately, I have people in place at my cleaning business excited about growing it. You have to make a decision. I used to play tennis with a friend. Actually I tried to play tennis. I was never any good at it. But I will never forget a simple lesson my friend taught me about tennis. He said “If you commit to the net, don’t stop. Go all the way to the net or stay at the baseline.” He said that everything in between is no man’s land. When you make a decision to go to the net, go to the net!
  4. Get a base hit. We feel badly because things aren’t happening all at once. One of the best things you can do is to do something small that will give you a glimmer of hope. Make a positive call on a referral, get this month’s mailer out or whatever. The game is won by a series of base hits, not necessarily a grand slam. Although a home run is nice, you cannot count on them. On the other hand, if you are not out there swinging on a regular basis, the chances of a home run are slim to none. You will miss 100 percent of the shots you do not take. So, think of something small, but positive that you could do this week to give you some encouragement.
  5. Do not live by circumstance. Too often our happiness is based on events. If you live your life based on circumstances, whether something went your way or not, you will live a miserable life! In life, bad things and good things happen. If we allow events to steal our joy, to cause us to lose heart, we need to examine ourselves. We must realize that roadblocks will always be there. We have to have enough faith to look beyond certain circumstances, to believe that we can succeed even if there are difficulties. A smooth sea does not make a good sailor! In many ways, difficulties are a necessary part of growth. They build character and perseverance. I can think of many times that I was so discouraged I just wanted to quit. I wanted to give up on everything. But we first have to remind ourselves that we have options. We do not have to do what we do. We can do other things. Second, I accept the circumstances that have been handed to me. If it was something that I caused, I will try to recognize what I did and how I can change it. If it was something someone else did, I will search for a way to protect myself and the business in the future. If it something that no one caused, I can choose to spend my time and energy complaining about my circumstances or I can choose to accept it and move on.
  6. Fairly compare. One of the worst things we can do to ourselves is compare our success to others! Your success is your success! We are all called to a different place. Some of us are called to have larger businesses and others are called to have smaller businesses. We all have different life goals. Even though I am flattered when people say “I want my company to be just like Clean As A Whistle,” that should not be the goal. You need to build the business that is right for you.  The first time I met Zig Ziglar, I told him “I am going to be the next Zig Ziglar!” His response? “I’m sorry to hear that!” What a great answer! His success is not my success. I have my own success and you have yours – uniquely designed just for you.  The right way to compare: The way to think about your business is to think about where you were 12 months ago. Have you grown personally? Has the business grown? Have you made significant improvements? If so, be thankful for that and keep it up. If not, don’t get discouraged. Instead, think through what you have not done and what is not working with a level head and a positive attitude. Remember that failure is an event not a person. You are not a failure. You have simply discovered more things this year that don’t work. The good news is that you can eliminate those things from the list and move forward. A friend of mine, Todd Davis, 33 years old and financially independent, spoke at one of my Round Table seminars. During his presentation he said the key to succeeding quicker is to double your rate of failure. You see, the sooner we find out what doesn’t work, the sooner we can get to the things that do.
  7. Stay around inspirational people. Get a mentor or a coach. Make sure you spend time around people who encourage and inspire you. Limit your time around negative people. You cannot eliminate them from your life, but you can choose how much time you spend with them and whether they have an influence over you or not. Remember that there are two things you have that no one can touch without your permission: Your mind and your heart. Those belong to you and you are in full control of them. So use them to do wonderful, positive things.

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