David Balen provides valuable advice on how to avoid your business from weakening or becoming terminally ill
It is easy to think of your financial platform for earning a living as a “practice” rather than a “business”. However, as discussed in a previous article for HTM there is a difference between your practice and business (Issue 4). For me, business is an exchange mechanism for goods or services. You trade time, knowledge, experience but above all, you share and communicate your qualities as a human being. Your business is, or should be, a reflection of your values, ethics and aspirations.
For your business to work you have to shift from the “Yin” polarity which is intuitive, passive/receptive, responsive and reflective to a “Yang” one of being outgoing, dynamic, purposeful/focussed, grounded and active. In this article I would like to outline some of the areas that can trip you up, demotivate and ultimately derail you if you fail to take that “Yang” approach.
Failure to Plan – Vision it, then map it out. Think in stages and figure out your initial destination, put numbers and dates into your planning and be specific and practical with this, rather than vague and visionary. Goals and plans should be SMART – specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-based.
Not taking care of the money flow – set up systems to audit your finances on a regular basis… know what you are spending versus what you are receiving. Many businesses with full order books fail due to cash flow problems.
Getting into debt – it is easy in today’s society to purchase things on credit. Taking on loans without thorough forward planning and based on assumption which may or may not materialise, is not good business sense. Be cautious about these things and creative to find lower cost or alternative exchange options.
Tax or legal problems – have resilient, efficient recording systems, get professional advice and do things as ethically as you can. Manage this side of the business or get help if required, leaving you to focus on what lights your light.
Inadequate investment of time or money, passion or thought – even when there is no money coming in, use your business time to think creatively, make contacts, network etc. In the early stages you need to build up the soil fertility so growth can take care of itself- this may mean going without and putting back, commonly known as “investing in your business”.
Not evolving – work can be seen as a spiritual discipline, a path to pursue whatever philosophy or world view you have, as well a way of paying the bills. Don’t be content to be complacent – we can always evolve and grow. Standing still in an ever-changing world is not really an option!
Failure to grow people you work with – as well as nurturing the business you need to nurture people under your wing, colleagues or employees. They need a progression path and motivation, together with decent pay and working conditions.
Failure to build relationships based on good communication and trust – as a professional health and lifestyle advocate you have to be congruent – walk the walk don’t just talk the talk. If you don’t have good people or communication skills, work on them, and seek help if you can’t do it yourself. Your work isn’t just about you transmitting a manifesto to the eagerly expectant public and potential clients, or selling your wares, it is about how you relate and engage with the outside world, with lots of little steps, decisions, and conversations over time, where you embody and demonstrate your values.
Being over-arrogant – pride comes before a fall. Having humility doesn’t mean that you are a walk over; none of us have the answer to everything. Keep your mind open, and watch out for this one – it can creep in when you are not looking and trip your business up. Attitude failure = business failure!
Taking without giving back – remember to keep the chain of virtue flowing. Once you get success (whatever that means for you), find ways that you can give back and help the next generation, allowing things to evolve.
In closing, I would like to reiterate the message I intone – mantra-like – whenever I get the appropriate occasion… “Never give up!” Remember why you studied your subject, and remember why you got qualified, despite obstacles you may have had to overcome. Don’t let the difficulties in the “marketplace” discourage you, rather treat these as learning opportunities and ways to be resourceful and get stronger. Trust in yourself and whatever else is important to you in life.