This week is dedicated to small businesses. In media all over the country there are reports on the companies that provide two out of three jobs in our economy. More than half of the vending, micro market and coffee service providers are classified as small business owners – so this week has special significance to the industry. That is why I want to talk about one of the most challenging aspects of being a small business owner – moving forward when all you see are obstacles.
It happens to everyone. One minute you have vision, inspiration and enthusiasm, and the next you see nothing but challenges. You lament the current state of the economy, consumers, finances, etc. and compare it to a time in the past. It makes you slow to change, and even slower to say positive things about the future of your business.
Complacency is a downward spiral
Small businesses have it especially difficult because there is a lack of senior management. While there is no limit to people who would offer advice, few really understand all aspects of the operation the way an owner does. I know many small business owners that feel stuck or just tired. They keep doing the same things because it was successful in the past, and is moderately successful today. This is a dangerous place to stay for too long, however. The world changes daily. The consumer evolves and if businesses are going to remain relevant, they must change also. So how do you get unstuck when you are the boss? Here’s are some of the best suggestions I’ve read.
Play 20 questions
Write down your challenges and ask questions about them. How can this increase sales? How can I find out more about customer preferences? How can I generate excitement about my service? The questions help breakdown the large, hazy obstacle to manageable parts.
Look to the optimists
Many vending operators in the industry are what I would call optimists. They view challenges as opportunities, have a can-do attitude and can understand your specific business issues. Many of them are past Automatic Merchandiser People of the Year winners. Read their stories, follow their blogs and get inspired by their positive outlook of the industry.
Review your past
Look back at what got you started. Look at the pictures around your office. Ask your family what they remember. Smiling and laughing about the way things were can really have a positive effect on your attitude for the future. Focus on how far you’ve come and that will help you continue to grow.
Getting unstuck is just as important for the future of your business as it is for your own personal happiness. If you are at the point where you will sell your operation soon, positive growth and up-to-date technology will get you a much better price. Small business owners are the backbone of this country, so be proud and get inspired this week and for the rest of 2014.