I hate my business

It’s remarkable the number of business owners we regularly meet that hate their business. They’ve fallen out of love with the concept, the big dream seems hard to reach and they wonder how their business has arrived at it’s current location.

Often, it’s not necessarily that the business owner hates their business, by that I mean what it sells or the service it delivers, it’s that something has changed.

Being a business owner brings it’s own highs and lows. The high of winning a tender, securing a new client or growth in the company is exhilarating. Conversely, when client’s decide to leave, turnover is down or you feel the company is regressing, the low is like a shovel to the face.

For most small to medium business owners I meet, they have around 20 members of staff and the owner works tirelessly to drive the business forward. I read once in a book written by entrepreneur and Dragon’s Den investor, Deborah Meaden about how she likened a business to a baby. In the first few years the baby, like a business, will sap all your time, energy and strength. The business will then evolve from a baby to a toddler. This brings its own troubles but with the right guidance the business will continue to grow and you can begin to focus less of your attention on it.

For many people, their business is still in the baby stage and it can’t move on. Income is limited and growth is extremely difficult. Often this is down to having a limited marketing budget or inconsistent promotion. When the business reaches the toddler stage, typically the business owner doesn’t want to dedicate as much time and believed it would be easier.

The reasons for hating a business can vary, but there is certainly something you can do about it.

Why Is My Business Failing?

When you feel like your business is failing it’s imperative to establish what failure actually is (or success for that matter)? Some people determine success as reaching a turnover point, for instance, “last year we turned over £2 million”. That’s often an excellent indicator of success, but it has to be balanced with how much was spent to achieve this milestone. Failure can feel like the business is losing clients, there are no profits or is consistently underachieving.

Firstly, take stock of your position. Where have you come from and where is your business at this point? Think of the journey you’ve been on. What was the first 12 or 18 months like compared to where you are now? How many clients did you have in your first year compared against today?

A business can frustrate you, just like a child – especially when it doesn’t conform to your expectations. It can get tough and business owners wouldn’t be human if they didn’t stop to think, “maybe this isn’t for me”. But, before you decide to jack in working for yourself and return to 9am-5pm employment, consider these points.

  • Expectations: Is being a business owner different to how you imagined? This is common. You may have thought that after a number of years you could move to a 3 day week or your salary would be larger. Instead of blaming the business or yourself, change your expectations.
  • What’s the actual problem: Do you dislike your clients, do you work too many hours and it’s impacting on your home life or is it something else? It could be a downturn in sales and you’re worried about how your business will cope. Well, you can’t change where you are right now – it is what it is. What you can control is what you do next. How will you bounce back? If you dislike your clients, then why? Is there a way you can change you business model? If you’re working too many hours then do you need to delegate better or if you’re a one-man operation, is there a way to work smarter with the use of technology? Remember, “graveyards are full of indispensable people”.
  • Can’t see the wood for the trees: I once sat with a business owner who said he hated his business. When I asked why, he said he didn’t feel he was getting anywhere. From my perspective he had an excellent business. In 8 years he’d built a £3 million turnover company, employed staff, had excellent rental premises and made profit every year so he could get a bonus. But, he meant that by comparison to competitors he was still very small. He couldn’t see what he had actually nurtured was a thrive business going through complex changes, but still very profitable.
  • Are you in limbo?: Another business owner type are the one’s in limbo. They may be making an extra 15% on top of their typical salary working for somebody else, however they have to work much harder. They can’t commit to their business because in the back of their mind, they continually think about the easier route and taking a slightly lower salary. It’s “grass is greener” syndrome, but remember, “whether you think you can or cannot, you’re right”.
  • Burn out: It’s easy to feel exhausted with your business. Even when you try to switch off it can be very difficult, but without proper rest and relaxation you won’t be fit to lead your business and hit the targets you want to achieve. A short break and time away from the company may be what you need to come back revitalised.

Either way, most of the problems associated with hating your business can be resolved with the creation of a marketing plan. On developing your strategy, you’ll either realise that your dreams can’t be fulfilled or you will know exactly what you have to do.

Marketing Planning: Create a plan!

Your marketing plan gives you a detailed strategy of how you will take your business forward. It will lay down projections for the years to come. While these are estimations they do help focus your mind on the task at hand.

The marketing plan should include a summary, business overview, SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats), USP (cheapest, best quality or most convenient), competitor analysis, pricing, how you will promote your product or service, a financial budget broken down monthly against the channels you’ll market within and projections to evaluate your targets.

But, most importantly for business owners, a marketing plan gives you a direction for your business and a tool to measure your progress. You can’t truly see where your business is until you take a step backwards and review where you’ve been. With a detailed plan you will have a clear idea in your head how to take your business to the next level.


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