A while back I was asked, "What challenges do you see most frequently with small business owners?"
It's a great question, and I think the biggest challenge for every business owner, freelancer, and independent professional is keeping all aspects of the business balanced.
There are four main aspects, that if kept balanced will keep the business operating smoothly, and profitably.
Entrepreneurs have to be great at setting and managing financial objectives. They have to know where the money comes from and where it's going.
They have to be exceptional at developing their customers because without customers there is no revenue and no business.
Small business owners must develop internal business processes to serve those customers with excellence, and
They have to be continuously innovating, learning and growing.
The biggest challenge is keeping these four areas in balance. To run well, all successful business owners need to balance the financial objectives, customer objectives, internal processes, and innovation process.
When these are out of balance, it's like driving a car where the wheels need balancing. Things get wobbly, and it can create other problems that keep the car from running properly.
A tool that we've developed is the Strategy Blueprint. It helps our clients to get their business in balance.
Here's a thumbnail sketch of how to develop your Strategy Blueprint.
Start with your Strategy Statement. It's a concise statement of your competitive advantage with a clearly defined scope. What do you do? Who do you do it for? Where do you do it?
Set your Financial Objectives. How much revenue will you generate? What are the costs to generate that revenue? What's your profit?
Set your Customer Objectives. Who are your customers? What products or services do you provide your customers?
Develop your Internal Business Processes. What are your Marketing, Sales, and Operations processes? How will these processes support your customers, lower your costs and improve productivity?
Develop your Innovation Processes. What is your process for continuous improvement? How will you get better at what you do? What do you need to learn so that you can be more efficient with your business processes?
Once you have your Strategy Blueprint developed, the main area of focus should be your innovation processes. As you work to improve and innovate, you will improve your business processes which will reduce your costs, and most importantly your customers will be happier which will result in more revenue.
If you're a business owner, and you're stressed and overwhelmed, it could be because your business is out of balance. You might have good revenues, and great customers, but your business processes aren't efficient which is driving up costs and making it difficult to scale and grow.
By investing time and money into developing your Strategy Blueprint, you will discover the imbalances and how to fix them.