Is It Time To Put Your Business On A Diet?

Is your business weighing you down by all the demands being placed on you? Do you carry that weight like a beaten horse hauling a fat cowboy? Do you try to lighten the load by shifting things around, or cutting the cost of products to try and sell more? If so, stop!

I am not against cutting costs, but there is a better, more efficient plan, and that plan begins with taking a close look at:

* Where you are currently

* Determining where you want to go

* And then laying down the steps and the processes that will get you there

To do that, of course, you’ll have had to track and measure everything. Many business owners don’t, so if that describes you, setting up tracking and measuring systems is a good place to start. You want to calculate your break-even point. This will help you determine what exactly you want to invest your time and money in that will relieve you of that overburdening load you’ve been carrying. One should do a “break-even analysis” for every area of one’s business.

Now step back and look at how you sell. Do you price each item, discounting when you want to attract more customers? Maybe you need to rethink that strategy. Dan Kennedy suggests thinking in terms of how many times a product is sold, rather than the given cost of that product or service. A fitness program for instance may ask, “How much do you want to lose?” Your answer determines how much you will pay for the program. Price is determined by poundage, in this case, rather than gym membership.

It’s an interesting concept, and one worth exploring. It requires, as does any solid campaign, that you know your customers’ wants and needs. In business coaching, for instance, our customers’ wants and needs often differ.

What they want is more time, money, and less stress. Business owners don’t generally think of “overload” per say as a “want” to lose something. They’re too focused on what they hope to gain.

What they need is to feel successful, profitable, and (ironically) needed. The areas they need help in are generally: sales, marketing, management and team-building.

What businesses need to lose almost always includes these five things:

1. Stress

2. Chaos

3. Feelings of failure

4. Negative attitudes

5. “D” customers

Let’s break that down further:

A. Stress

Stress is the number one cause of burnout, and burnout is the number one cause of businesses failing. Knowing this, stress should be high on a business owner’s list of things to lose.

As a business coach, one of the first things I do is to look at where your stress originates. Does it go back to day one, when you failed to create a viable business plan? If you’re breathing easier because you have put a good plan in place, then let’s move on. If you’ve stopped, because that is in fact where your stress began then revisit your business plan, or if you haven’t ever created one, start now.

For everyone else, let’s keep moving forward. Is your stress directly attached to your not being able to get everything done in a day, week, month, or year? Are you glued to the business 24/7? Do you truly believe (and fear) that if you aren’t there overseeing everything, that your business will collapse?

If so, your stress relates to the fact that you do not have effective systems in place. While structure starts right back with that business plan, systems are applicable to 4 key areas of your business:

A. People and Education

B. Delivery and Distribution

C. Testing and Measuring

D. Systems and Technology.

That’s a lot to swallow, but again, biting the bullet and getting these process in place will eliminate that number one killer of businesses and business owners: Stress.

B. Chaos

Chaos is a close cousin to stress, if not actually married to it. Chaos results when processes and systems aren’t in place, and when your “team” is not the team needed to move the business forward. Does this mean you need to ditch your team? Maybe, but more likely, you need to train them. Do you have have training in place? Training your team so that everyone is clear on the company vision and mission statement will be a good place to start to eliminate chaos. After all, if you take care of number one on the list (stress) by putting proper systems in place, you’ll find that the second thing (chaos) practically takes care of itself!

C. Feelings of Failure

The ego is a fragile beast. I say beast, because egos are generally quite large – monstrous, even.Remember that in Sigmund Freud’s model of the psyche, the id represents instinctive drives, the ego represents reason and common sense, and the super-ego represents our conscience.

What happens to many business owners is that their dream (id) becomes a reality (ego) that becomes far more difficult to pull off successfully than they had initially realized, and they find themselves struggling to keep the “lie” of success undercover (super-ego). Sadly, if they’d just swallowed their pride and asked for help, they would have discovered that they could not only have saved their businesses and saved face, but could have grown their businesses and saved up money for all those other things they’d hoped to do in their lives.

So, fear of failure can be a really serious state of “being”. We have a phrase we use at our company: Be (times) Do (equals) Have. By that we mean: be the person you need to be, to do the things you need to do, to have the things you want to have.

D. Negative Attitudes

Negative attitudes are like cancers. They spread. And while it’s not effective to be all cheery and “faking” that everything is fine when it isn’t, it is imperative to replace negative attitudes with positive reinforcement. When you hear yourself spewing negative self-speak, stop yourself and ask, “How can I turn this into a more positive statement?” This is true of negative energy as well. Ask, “How can I channel this negative energy into something more positive and constructive?”

Practice “I” messages. It really does work, folks. Practice saying things like, “I will excel today. I will recognize my worth and my abilities and will make a positive difference today. I am strong, capable, smart, and can learn new things today.” Come on. Try it! You’ll find that just like people enjoy getting complimented, you will too. Even when the one complementing you is you!

E. “D” Customers

If you are fishing for “D” customers, you need to find a new pond. We classify “D” customers as dead ones, not necessarily because they have actually died, but because they will never buy from you. Never.

The key is to sort through your client list and group customers according to buying habits:

* “A” list highlights your awesome customers! Your raving fans.

* “B” list indicates your basic customers. They buy occasionally.

* “C” list has customers you can’t deal with on it. They are the ones that constantly look, but don’t buy.

* “D” list is your whiners and complainers. They’re never satisfied, and nothing you do is going to change that.

The solution? Get rid of your “D” list and maybe even your “C” list, too, and focus on your” A” and “B” lists.

Ultimately, when it comes down to it, putting your business on a diet may not be a bad idea. Let me share a true story:

A colleague of mine wanted to lose weight. “I already lost 220 lbs,” she confided.

Surprised, I asked, “How’d you do that?”

“I got a divorce.”

After laughing, she went on to explain that she’d tried many traditional diets to lose weight and nothing was working to her liking. Finally, she went to a nutritionist who explained that her problem was somewhere in her system.

“Your body is a wonderful mechanism full of vital organs, all playing a specific role in making sure your body runs smoothly and remains healthy. If one of those organs stops working properly, your body will shut down and no amount of dieting will fix that.”

Through a strict diet, removing all sugars, carbs, and fatty foods, the dysfunctional organ healed and her body started to work as it was designed to. My colleague lost weight, inches, and stress. But more importantly, she gained confidence, health, and a better attitude.

Turns out, businesses are no different. If your company’s “system” isn’t working properly, no amount of “cutting back” (dieting), or wishing (denial) is going to fix it. Putting proper systems in place will fix it. Getting help will fix it. And that’s why as a business coach, I encourage you to “lose” all those negatives above and focus instead on gaining the healthy, confident, successful, and profitable enterprise that works, even when you aren’t there to run it!

This entry was posted in Business and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.