Summary by Jason Proch

Many small business owners are actually fire fighters more than they are business owners.  They spend too much time of their day fighting fires.  This prevents them from having time to fix the underlying issues that are causing them.

Jay Goltz had a great post in the NY Times Your The Boss Blog titled, “How to Diagnose What’s Wrong With Your Business.”  It summarizes a number of items that might be plaguing your business.  Check out the entire post here:

Some of my favorites are:

1. ‘Marketing’ Targeting. Do you have a strategy to reach your best potential customers with your sales and marketing efforts? A shotgun approach is too expensive and inefficient for any company, especially a small one. What percentage of the people you approach actually buy a product or service like yours?

3. The ‘Marketing’ Message. Lots of companies still use this line: “We will exceed your expectations.” I even saw it on the back of an ambulance. (I don’t know about you, but I have pretty high expectations when I call an ambulance! Are the technicians going to give me a haircut after they bring me back to life?) It was a good line when someone first thought of it. Now, it is old. It is tired. It needs to retire. You need to exceed people’s expectations by coming up with your own line. Maybe it is not a line at all. Maybe it is a message. Whatever it is, it should say something about your company that means something to potential customers.

7. Basic Accounting. Many seemingly successful companies have gotten into big trouble by neglecting accounting until it is too late. Accounting is not just about paying taxes. It is about information, insight, and control. Great accounting will not make a business successful, but bad accounting can destroy a business. Is someone staying on top of receivables, being careful about opening new accounts and making sure the existing ones are current? Could you walk someone through your financial statements and explain each part?

8. Pricing. This is probably the sleeper on this list. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen entrepreneurs either put themselves out of business, or never make the money they should have, because of bad pricing models. They charge prices that bear no relation to the costs or to the value proposition. This is just one of the reasons a company needs accurate accounting — so it can determine the true cost of a product or service. Do your salespeople have control of the pricing for jobs that they quote? If so, are they selling at a price that allows you to make a profit?

10. Any one of these topics could fill a book, and leadership is no exception. Let me count the ways: vision, direction, inspiration, support. It is similar to management, but they are not the same thing. As my company has gotten larger, I have found that leadership gets easier because I now have managers managing. When a company is smaller, the boss has to manage and lead. One minute you are writing someone up for violating the late policy, and the next you are trying to inspire the troops. Perhaps management is pushing, and leadership is pulling. It’s not easy doing both at the same time.


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