If you haven’t read about my Personal Rules for Business, then you’re not a champion and probably haven’t seen Rule #1:
This Business is just like every other Business.
There’s a reason why this is Rule #1: too often we make excuses in our businesses as to why we can’t do this or that – and it’s all bullshit. Over and over I hear Small Business people make excuses about why they can’t do things:
- We can’t afford new equipment because the old stuff is working just fine
- We can’t upgrade that software so you’ll just have to keep taking those extra hours working around the problem instead of using the new macro in the latest version.
- We’ve never done it that way and I’m afraid to try because I won’t know what I’m doing.
I am not going to sit here and lie to you and tell you that those things have never happened in our business. More to the point, I’m not going to tell you that I’ve never done it. Right now I’ve got a project sitting on the back burner that would take $500 in software and maybe $1,500 in development hours and potentially save me $10,000/year or more every year, but I’m just not ready to pull the trigger on the purchase and commit myself to the project.
Here’s the kicker, though: I’m not going to forget about it because I can’t do it right now. It’s still going to be on that proverbial burner tomorrow and the next day until I move forward.
Maybe this is already hitting home. Maybe you’ve got a purchase that you’ve been wanting to pull the trigger on for some time now but you’re afraid it won’t be a money maker. Let me tell you this: those things happen. We’ve got multiple systems in our business that are functionally similar from multiple vendors. That’s the way it works in our industry: if you want to play in a certain market you have to buy the big ticket item before people will throw you the ball. I’ve botched a couple of these purchases, and at five figures each, they aren’t cheap mistakes.
For each of those mistakes, there have been at least two successful major purchases (if not more). One of those was met with mediocre reception but ended up boosting productivity by 40% in a department with just two people in it. That’s like having an entire other person working for free.
It’s important to have a solid framework for deciding how to spend money. I’ve already talked about making a decision on how you lead in your market, but you also have to be able to think objectively about purchases that aren’t your primary form of leadership. You can not afford to make the mistake of believing that just because you don’t know anyone in your market/niche/town doing the same thing that it’s not the right thing for you.
It’s about more than purchases, though….
Believing in your heart that your business is just like every other business takes away that excuse-slinging voice in your head that says it’s not possible to know what’s going on. It’s the voice that tells you you’re too small to have a budget. It’s the voice that tells you that you can’t jump in to a new market because it might not work.
It’s your job to replace those voices with one voice that says “The data is out there, it’s quantifiable, and there is an answer!”
I’ve used a variety of resources to find answers. Some of the most memorable examples include purchasing mapping software to map my customers and my competitors to identify new markets to attack, hiring freelance consultants for 1/5 the cost of traditional consultants through freelancing websites, and using freely available resources like the SBA Small Business Development Center.
One time I even hired college students to use their vast university libraries and resources to do research projects for me.
The point is this: for every excuse why you can’t do something there are fifty reasons why you can. The answers are out there. Real Champions ignore the voices telling them to not try.
Take a minute to post your ideas in the comments below and I’ll try to help you find what you need to make a decision.