As we covered in Part One of this blog, beyond the disciplines and mentoring we provide, regional business owners benefit from taking the following four simple steps to ensure they don’t become a statistic. These steps include:
- GET REAL.
- GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK.
- CALL THEM OUT.
- STAND UP.
Let’s start with Number One….
Yes, that’s right: Get real. It may seem basic, but the first step is to honestly assess yourself, your business and your plan for the future.
We know that 90 per cent of small business owners do not receive quality business training as part of their technical training (Source: MGI Australian Family & Private Business Survey, 2013). This is true no matter if you are a plumber, baker, physiotherapist, lawyer or surgeon. And so we go in blind and ill equipped.
Research conducted in 2015 by Next Move Consulting shows most small business owners have never learned how to:
- Assess the financial viability of their idea;
- Establish a simple business plan;
- Interpret a set of financial statements;
- Create a simple financial model or manage cash flow;
- Develop or manage a budget;
- Write a sales or marketing plans;
- Put a simple legal agreement in place to protect their assets;
- Protect their intellectual property; and
- Attract and manage staff.
Put simply, if you’re in small business, you are probably an excellent technician in your chosen field, but may lack the business knowledge and training needed to really excel. Start by assessing your skills gaps. This is where you can make your life easier. What are your strengths and where are your weaknesses? What leaves you scratching your head, or losing sleep at night? (Hint: it’s probably not your core product or service.)
Next, take realistic steps to bridge the gaps you find. Outsource the tasks that you find most difficult to the experts. There are many ways to outsource online, including Airtasker, Upwork, TaskArmy and various other virtual assistance services. Find ways to delegate the low-value activity. Seek out small business training or advice, and find a good business adviser or mentor.
Then, set realistic goals and a clear and concise plan to achieve them. We know that only 28 per cent of SMEs have a business plan in place (Source: Australian Financial Review, 29 May, 2016). However, planning is vital. A 12-month plan-on-a-page is a great place to start. Set yourself and your business three or four realistic goals per quarter and determine the tactics you need to get you there. If you don’t know how to write a business plan, ask.
By getting real, you may build new skills, your business will be better resourced, and the very act of taking charge will leave you empowered to get on with doing the high-value work you do best.
We’ll be back again soon with the next step to support regional businesses to avoid becoming a statistic.
You can join us on this journey by clicking the “Follow The Academy on Facebook” or “Connect with The Academy on LinkedIn” links, located at the bottom of this page, on the right hand side. You can view the first blog in series by clicking here.
Jeremy Hutchings is a business development specialist and CEO and co-founder of the Regional Entrepreneur Academy. He lives in Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia, with his wife, Jane, and their four incredible children. You can contact Jeremy at email@example.com