Specialty Retailers, Working On Their Businesses
I’ve had some interesting feedback from my recent post, Working In Your Business, Working On Your Business. Most interestingly, I’ve had clients, after reading it, want to focus some time specifically on this issue.
One client in particular asked how I felt he was doing, and he agreed that it was something he had been struggling with. He had built his business by being on his salesfloor, working with each customer from the beginning, and still greeting each customer as they came in the store, even as his business had grown and he had built a skilled sales team around him. He acknowledged that he knew he had to re-dedicate himself to finding a better balance between working in and working on his business.
Being focused on the immediate moment, on each customer as they come through the door, is a proven approach to building a business initially, but it leads inevitably to a plateau that can be difficult to break through. An entrepreneur is limited primarily by time, and spending all of your time focused on right now leaves little time for focusing on next week, next month or next year. Once you hit that plateau, breaking through requires that you be able to focus on the future, and setting some longer-range goals. It will likely take you a year to get to where you want to be a year from now, but you won’t make it unless you identify the things you need to do initially to get there, and get started on them now.
The challenge goes beyond recognizing the importance of goal-setting and working toward those goals, however. To re-balance between the time spent working in your business and time spent working on your business you need to recognize why there’s an imbalance in the first place. Independent retailers spend an inordinate amount of their time working in their businesses because that’s what’s familiar and comfortable. It’s what they know. Usually, it’s what they’ve always done.
Take another client of mine. She owns a high-end bike shop. She’s a passionate cyclist. She loves cycling and loves to talk cycling with her customers. It’s what she knows, it’s what she’s familiar and comfortable with. It’s also her expertise. Like many of my clients, part of what we’re working on is expanding her business management capabilities. That’s an area where she’s not as comfortable, where she doesn’t feel as confident. She’d rather spend most of her time on the salesfloor, but she recognizes that if she wants to take her business to the next level that she can’t. She recognizes that there are new skills that she needs to learn, that she needs to spend time off the sales floor working on those projects that are necessary to move her business forward. Building comfort and confidence in anything comes from dedicating the time to become comfortable and confident.
So, if you’re feeling like you’re stuck spending most of your time working in your business and not enough working on your business, be reassured that it’s a common problem. More importantly, however, recognize that if you do have an imbalance, that by itself can be enough to hang you up, and prevent you from taking your business to the next level.