Running your own business can be a complex, difficult and confusing experience.
There are so many areas that you need to focus on…sales, marketing, product sourcing, product pricing, customers, lead generation, staff recruitment, etc, etc…that it can be difficult to know quite where to put your energy.
Too often business owners end up getting frustrated by the things that are not happening when, and in the order, they want them to happen. This may be because of the potential customer who won’t make a decision quickly enough, the supplier who delivers key products late, the road accident that stops you getting to a meeting on time. If you get talking to someone who runs their own business, it won’t be long before you start to hear what frustrates them.
Now, OK, there are lots of things that can drive us crazy in life, but it really isn’t good for the body or soul to be in a constant state of frustration or irritation, is it? That doesn’t stop some people though!
When I first started my business the greatest temptation was to get frustrated when things were not going to plan and to spend all my energy trying to get everything going exactly as I wanted them to. I soon realised that this was exhausting and, ultimately, pointless. There were some things that I just could not control and, actually, there really was no point whatsoever in getting frustrated about them not happening as and when I wanted them to happen.
I then sat down and listed out all the different aspects of my business and put them into two columns – “Controllable” and “Uncontrollable”.
The uncontrollable were things like customers deciding to, or not to, place an order, producers delivering, or not delivering, goods, the weather being good, or lousy, for an outside event. I might be able to influence people’s behaviour in these circumstances, but I could not control them – and this was a vital revelation for me.
When I looked at the controllable list, it was things like getting in touch with prospective customers, attending networking events, following up on meetings held, arranging a new telemarketing campaign, etc.
Now these were things I definitely could control and the biggest frustration was that I realised that previously I had spent a disproportionate amount of my time on the things I couldn’t control. Once I started to focus my energies on the items in the controllable list, I suddenly started to get improved results which was slightly bizarre because I thought I couldn’t control results!!!
Of course I couldn’t control the results, but I was putting myself in a position where I was generating opportunities and, in an uncontrollable way, these opportunities were producing successful outcomes for my business – not predictable, but much improved.
Listening to an interview with Eddie Jones recently following a win in the third game of the three match series between England and South Africa rugby union teams, I heard him responding to the question of how he had dealt with losing five matches in a row. He said he simply focussed on the things he could control. He couldn’t control what everyone was saying about the team, but he could control training sessions, time with the players, etc.
So if you want to improve the performance of your business, identify the areas of your business that you directly control and remember to focus your energies there. You’ll be amazed at the difference it can make to the success of your business.
By Jonathan O’Shea – TAB Bristol North