Over the past few years, I've noticed there are common fears that hold business owners across the globe back from creating growth in our businesses. Once we learn to recognize the fears, address them and apply a solution, we can move forward!
#1 - Fear of Losing Control
One of the biggest fears that I see with hundreds of business owners is this fear of losing control.
This tends to manifest itself a little bit differently in each person. Often times the business owner needs to know everything that is going on in the business.
They need to be up to date on all the details, all the time. They will refuse to hire employees or demand that employees document so much information that it’s overwhelming or overloading. These business owners often end up refusing to give the employees the room to make decisions in the business, because they need to know everything that is happening.
When many of us started our businesses, we ARE the business.
When I started, I was everything in the business, I was sales, I was marketing, I was fulfillment, I was customer service, processing, CFO, CMO, CEO and COO in one! In the beginning, that's how most of us ran our businesses.
When we were the whole business, we knew everything that was going on. Every decision went through us. We were able to verify that we were providing the best customer service, because we knew what was happening. We didn't have to worry about making a mistake on the decision about how to handle a problematic customer, because we had all the information in our head.
As the business grows, we end up encountering a moment of NOT knowing what is going on. We make a mistake or a bad decision based on not having all the information, or we see someone else do so. Then we start clamping down on the details of the business.
It drives away autonomy and kills the spirit of the company.
First of all, figure out what information you do need communicated to you as the business owner on a regular basis. Try and keep it to bare basics, the last thing you want is for your team to spend hours logging data for you. And, on the flip side, what information do you not need?
Once you know what information needs to be shared regularly, you can empower your team to own that information and take action to move the needle positively, and do so with actions that are in line with the culture you’ve created.
If you've created a culture like Marriott, of absolutely making sure the customer is taken care of 100%, trust your team to make decisions. If you need to, you can correct the decision later. But trust them to make the decision, and have their back.
#2 - Fear of Not Having Enough Money
I know one guy in particular who used to joke all the time about how much he paid his employees. He would constantly make jokes like “Are you sure you guys are worth it?” And “I can’t afford to take on more employees, I can barely afford you!”
First off, ouch! That is not okay to say to your employees. That is never a joke to your employees.
But there was this inherent fear built in for this employer that he was going to run out of money, that he wasn't going to have enough money for payroll. So he tried to make light of it by making jokes about it which didn’t exactly help build confidence in his team.
I get it! Cashflow is the lifeblood of the business and we’ve all had a moment of looking at our bank account and feeling a rock in the pit of our stomach. But when it develops into an obsession with how little money there is, or a constant fear of running out of money that spills into constant commentary (especially to your employees!) that is a problem!
As we go, we start manifesting the lack of money because “what you focus on expands.” Next, those constant comments drive the good people away from your business as they seek more stability elsewhere. At that point, a vicious cycle starts of terrible employees not being worth the pay they receive and good employees leaving for less frightening cultures.
Check your pricing and make sure you’re priced correctly for starters. Do you have built in profit margins?
(If you haven't already, check out the book profit first by Mike Michalowicz - it will blow your mind. This guy is a genius at how to manage your money in a way that you can have a permanently profitable business today if you're willing to do it.)
Once you’re priced correctly, you need to ferociously protect your cashflow.
You are almost always allowed to dictate your payment terms. If you ask your clients to put a card on file, most of the time, they will. At the very least, they will take your invoices seriously.
List invoices Due Upon Receipt or only give net 15 or net 30.
Unless you’re dealing with a very large client, you can usually negotiate payment terms that are in your favor. My favorite model? Receiving payment at time or prior to delivery of services or product.
Additionally, leverage credit cards or lines of credit to pay bills, then pay them off with cash the next month to avoid generating fees and sinking in debt. There’s a lot of value in paying everything on cards and gathering points and cash back, plus giving yourself an extra 30 days to hold on to your cash.
Biggest key: Do not ever use lines of credit or credit cards to pay for stuff you don’t have cash for, or you won’t have cash for before it’s due the next cycle. They are not free money.
#3 - Not Appearing Big Enough or Important Enough
Too many business owners are afraid they will lose deals or clients if they aren’t perceived as big enough. So they fall into posturing and putting on a show that most of us see through right away.
So they do things like:
Talking in the colloquial “we” far too often
Renting out an office that is way too big
Designing a $10,000 website for a $50,000 annual revenue business
In essence, building up a fake appearance of being bigger than reality
And when being grandiose is unaffordable, it ends up on the credit card (and unlike things which pay you back, ends up just creating more debt). Succumbing to this fear is that it sets you up to fail.
Be methodical with your business and have a solution in place to make sure customer care stays at an optimum level. You won’t lose customers for being too small if you are taking stellar care of them.
I know one business owner who ensures that every account in her company has two bookkeepers trained on how to run the financials so that no matter what happens, every client gets their financials in a timely manner. She isn’t running a multi-million dollar business (yet), but she makes sure you are taken care of.
When you can tell your prospect, “I may be a small business, but we have x, y and z in place to make sure you get taken care of.” It will impact them and they aren’t going to choose a larger organization when you can take care of them just as well.
#4 - Not Being at a Certain Revenue Goal
I struggled with this for a long time.
There was this “keeping up with the Entrepre-Jone’s” (Thanks Mike Michalowicz for that term!) mindset I struggled with. I constantly felt inadequate for not having hit $5M and $500M in my first three years of business.
As I continued to struggle with this, I found myself constantly discounting my successes.
As I beat myself up further and further, I found myself spiraling into depression or struggling to maintain any level of confidence in any area of the business, including sales.
This one is truly a mindset and what's important is that you recognize that just because someone else appears bigger doesn't mean they are more successful.
I know people who are literally making maybe a quarter million to $300,000 a year in revenue, and yet are making more in profit and personal take home pay than a company that’s making multiple millions of dollars.
I have heard too many stories of businesses who are industry leaders and appear to be kicking butt, but are completely paycheck to paycheck. And if one person decides to not pay their bills for this giant company, they have to shut the doors.
That's not a financially stable company.
I don't care how big you are. I don't care how many millions you make every year and I don't care how many employees you have. If a company isn't stable or is on the risk of bankruptcy every single month, it’s not as successful as the quarter million dollar business who's taking home 26% profit margins.
The only way to get past this fear is to realize that you don't need to keep up with the Jones’s. If you focus on owning and running a successful, established business that can run itself without your constant devotion, you’re in a better position than Mr. Escalade that is about to be repossessed by the bank….
#5 - Hiring the Wrong Employees
I’ll often hear business owners claim that they don’t want to deal with the hassle of employees. So they just aren’t going to hire anyone.
We’ve all heard horror stories of business owners who hire an employee who has to be babysat constantly and it’s just easier to do the work yourself. Or by looking online we realize that we can’t afford to hire a talented employee who can perform at the same level we can. So rather than taking someone on and training them, we settle for doing it ourselves.
The problem is that we end up exhausted. When we don’t show up for work, nothing gets done. There is no business, just a job. There’s no growth, just a constant exhausting tread of water.
Too often business owners wait till the last second or until they are insanely overwhelmed to hire. They hire the first person that seems like a decent fit or has some talent and throw them to the wolves. Then when the new hire struggles or asks constant questions in order to try and perform better, it becomes a vicious cycle.
So start watching your busy-levels to determine when you need to hire, and start the hiring process before you absolutely need someone.
Secondly, build a hiring process.
Know who you're looking for in all regards: the job, the culture, and for the manager.
Interview the candidate thoroughly before you hire. And once you hire? Train them well and unleash them to own the own results in their job, while you make sure they know how much you appreciate the ever-living everything out of them!
Because those guys are what makes your business rock, but you do have to get the right employees.
So follow the process to make sure that happens, and you’ll avoid being trapped in the fear of hiring.
Ready to set up these tips and get them going in your business so you can act free of fear? Check out our Goal Setting and Achieving course to walk you through the steps you need to implement whatever you want!