Are you your business’s biggest obstacle?

Your business is faltering or, at the very least, not hitting the goals you have set for it.  You’ve tried different marketing tools.  You changed the product and the pricing.  You’ve given your team all kinds of different initiatives but still the numbers just aren’t adding up to a win.  You have tried everything.  Sound familiar?

Perhaps the problem is you.  Perhaps the best indicator of if the problem is you or not is how you talk about your company’s failures.  If you describe your company’s failures in terms of all the things you did right, then you are likely the problem.  For example, Stephen Elop – former CEO of NOKIA – said in a press conference about handing over the company to Microsoft, “We didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost.”  Look at that statement.  He takes no credit for missing the opportunity.  Clearly NOKIA missed its chance to dominate the smart phone market and yet there is no admission of that in Stephen’s comment.

I worked with a small business owner.  His teams cleaned offices at night and he complained about how he didn’t have enough time to grow his business.  At least a couple of his team members would miss work every night, requiring him to cover for their shifts.  He spent ten hours or more hours every night rushing between jobs mopping, dumping garbage and picking up trash.  He still had his regular administrative work to do during the day.  He didn’t have any more energy or time to prospect new customers.  In fact, his business was slowly declining because he wasn’t replacing customers who were leaving.  When I ask him about his business, he talked extensively about all the things he did right.  He talk about not doing anything wrong but was still losing business.  In fact, he was the problem.  He wasn’t taking his personnel responsibilities seriously.  He didn’t address either the problem people he had, the processes he didn’t have for dealing with them or understanding his issues hiring people.  Yes, he had some problem employees but he was his own biggest problem.

If you business isn’t heading in the direction you want it to go, listen to yourself explain what your issues are.  If you are not taking responsibility, then you are your business’s biggest issue.  It isn’t too late.  Take responsibility and figure out what you need to change in yourself to make big positive changes in your business.

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