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I worked with Wendell recently at a volunteer project. We were planting a garden and while I was breaking my back, loading dirt in and out of pickup trucks, Wendell would lean on his shovel and talk to me. I would be picking up sod and Wendell would be chatting. I was moving the wheelbarrow and Wendell would be bantering away.
I’m not even sure what he was talking about but as I meditated on Wendell’s big talk, I thought that this is the same problem with many small businesses. Lots of talk and no action.
It’s not that small business owners don’t have great ideas. Many of the entrepreneurs I run into aren’t short on ideas. They can tell you what they need to do to build their businesses and grow their sales. They can tell you what they could do to reduce their stress in the business, and pinpoint what keeps them up at night.
Many business owners know exactly what they would like to accomplish in their business and have dreams of how much they should end up selling their business for.
The problem with small business owners isn’t in talking about the possibilities. The problem is in the follow-through.
So what do small business owners need to do to ensure they’re successful?
A 2014 study by Exact found that small businesses with a business plan made on average 20 per cent more profit and were 50 per cent more likely to achieve their business goals than those that didn’t.
To be successful in business, not only do we need to have an idea that we can articulate, but we need to put it down on paper and have a system of accountability to achieve the desired goals.
Numerous studies also show that companies that can communicate their plans to employees and get buy-in from those employees will be more likely to reach their goals. This means we need a culture in our organizations that enables dialogue and discussion around the validity of our goals.
This can be scary for business owners who are accustomed to having the last word. However, enabling discussion and being open to other points of view in regard to our goals ensures that we get buy-in and, as a result, are more likely to have action.
But action doesn’t happen without commitment. Not only do we need our employees to commit to doing the work, we have to work ourselves. Standing around holding a shovel all day isn’t going to cut it.
Great leaders don’t do all the work themselves but they’re able to motivate the workers. While this requires talking, it also requires that we show we’re prepared for some hard work. The role of a leader is often different from the person holding the shovel, however. We need to be able to hold the team accountable and show that we’ve done our homework when it comes to having a plan.
Having a plan to provide products or services that are designed to ensure you add value for your customers while guaranteeing that you’ll make money enables companies big and small to remain in business.
However, many business owners don’t quite understand that they have to create value and make a profit. Many focus on one or the other without creating the necessary balance.
Talk is cheap when it comes to business. Ideas are a dime a dozen, and businesses come and go because they have no formal planning to achieve goals. Planning for business success isn’t rocket science (in fact, if you send me an email, I’ll send you a template for coming up with a business plan that will help you get clarity on your next steps).
Sometimes it’s as simple as understanding who your customers are, what they’re feeling and what you can provide that will help them to solve their problems.
Are you like Wendell and find talking easy but getting things done difficult?
Or perhaps you’re digging away in your business when you should be supervising.
Having a plan to ensure that you’re successful and can get the necessary jobs done is essential. It’s easy to talk but action needs a plan.
Troy Media columnist David Fuller, MBA, is a certified professional business coach and author who helps business leaders ensure that their companies are successful. David is author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy.
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