When you’re running a business, there is so much to keep track of that it gets easy to avoid problems and conflicts that come up. So instead of dealing with issues as they arise, we do things like ignore red flags, make excuses for poor employees and clients, or open another line of credit to stay afloat instead of tackling financial issues.
We do this with the best of intentions, thinking the problems will work themselves out, or some external force, such as landing a new contract or investor will solve the problem.
But just as putting up new wallpaper won’t fix a crack in your wall, ignoring problems in your business will only lead to the collapse of your business.
Television shows like Restaurant Impossible, Kitchen Nightmares and Hotel Impossible are very popular right now. When you watch these shows, there is a common theme in every episode regardless of the type of businesses featured: long-standing problems left ignored for too long.
On these shows, you will meet restaurant owners who do not know their numbers or how much their food costs are, yet do not know why they are losing so much money. There are hotel owners who won’t put money in their budget for professional repairs or housekeeping and they wonder why their hotels are run down and dingy.
These are typical issues in business that happen to all business owners. Cash flow is always a concern. Managing employees is another ongoing task that needs constant attention. When business owners keep these issues out in front, staying aware of their finances and leading their employees, the inevitable potholes that happen don’t need to turn into major chasms.
Ignoring problems in your business is similar to ignoring a toothache. Toothaches tend to start off really minor. They cause a little bit of discomfort, but the thought of going to the dentist and facing the expense involved is enough to make most people say, “it’s not that bad, I’ll just take an aspirin.” Before long the pain gets harder to ignore, but we continue to endure as much as we can, because, after all, business owners are tough.
Eventually, the tooth will get infected and you will get knocked off your feet by the infection and probably lose the tooth as well. In the worst case scenario, the infection could hit your heart and kill you. This will end up costing you way more in antibiotics, lost time and extraction fees (or possibly your life) than it would have to just go to the dentist at the first sign of trouble and deal with the lesser physical and financial pain right away.
Recognizing and handling tough problems as they come up requires the usual hard work and tenacity but it also requires you are being real about your business, admitting that you are not infallible and problems are going to occur that cannot be ignored. This is very difficult for many tenacious business owners.
Being real means knowing that sticking your head in the sand is not a business strategy.
Being real means you know that sometimes you’re going to have to piss someone off in order to solve a problem.
Being real means you know you have to put skin in the game in order to get results.
Being real means learning the difference between action that spins your wheels and action that gets results.
Being real means being honest about your wants, needs, desires, fear and ignorance for your business and what your business brings to the world, as well as being honest with yourself about what it’s going to take to get you there.
What can you do to get more real about your business?