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Power, Profitability, and the Mess In-Between

Power, Profitability, and the Mess In-Between

The next time you walk into a networking event for small businesses, I want you to look around the room and realize something….87% of the entrepreneurs in that room are living check-to-check.  Being a profitable small business owner is a true test of self-awareness.

Things Don’t Always Go As Planned 

There are many very intelligent folks out in the small business community who accurately describe what it takes to be an entrepreneur. But I think that being a profitable entrepreneur requires a whole different skill set – one that nobody ever talks about. Gino Wickman, the great author of Traction and Entrepreneurial Leap, describes the six traits of an entrepreneur as: visionary, passionate, problem solver, driven, risk taker, and responsible. Thanks, Gino, that’s a pretty powerful list!

However, I meet entrepreneurs every. Single. Day. who embody those traits and are still running an unprofitable, messy business. One in which they are struggling to survive and are pulled in all directions. It looks like an unsustainable dumping site. They are often spinning and sweaty in anxiety and self-doubt. They often cannot see the forest through the trees.

Even though I have been in business for 16 years, I have had my own share of anxiety and self-doubt. I have to say, there is no magic pill to cure it. I find that as the business evolves, I too must evolve. What I learned yesterday might not be enough to get me through tomorrow.  Because I do have that visionary mind, I get very caught up in the story I write for myself and how I envision my business developing.  There is power in structure. When life unfurls in unexpected and unplanned ways, I get caught in resistance and I don’t want to switch my business plan. I get stuck in my own expectations instead of honoring the journey that is developing in the biz.  It’s the mess between my business plan and real-life circumstances that diminishes my power. It makes me weaker and more susceptible to anxiety. 

The Mess In-Between 

What does all this woo-woo have to do with profitability, you might ask? I know I am not alone in facing resistance and losing power when life rolls out in unexpected ways. There’s one way I often see this developing with my clients. They get so lost in running their small business that they forget one important thing. That if their biz is not profitable, it is not only not serving them, but additionally, it has little impact on the community and clients that they so passionately want to support. 

When there are too many problems –too much overhead, too high productivity costs, too many workers, too many manual processes-  business owners get stuck in the land in-between. Want yours to be one of the 13% of small businesses that are grounded in running a sustainable, permanently profitable organization? I have a few tips for recognizing and overcoming the resistance that we face in the mess in-between. 

Take a step back

For most people, understanding their financials with visibility and clarity is not something that comes naturally. Say you’re meeting with a financial advisor in your life. If you find the topics they bring up to be triggering anxiety by way of physical reaction, then it is time to take a breather from the conversation. It is not uncommon to have a visceral reaction to unfavorable topics. This might include tummy flip-flopping, blood flow rushing to your face, your head starting to spin, or your ears ringing.  When this happens, excuse yourself from the room, or take a break if on a Zoom call, and just step back for a second. If your body is having a physical reaction to the information, then you need to assess whether or not you can continue to absorb more information. It may be better to reconvene at a later date. 

Don’t be afraid to set the stage at the beginning of the meeting

Acknowledge that the topic of money and finance is creating angst for you. Communicate that you might need to move through the information in bite-size pieces and ask the consultant to be ready to repeat information, for you to fully understand. Too often, when I am meeting with clients around potentially unfavorable information, their emotions turn on them. They end up either lashing out at us, yelling and criticizing, or getting teary and emotional. We have an “emotional accountability” clause in our contract for this reason. It lets people know that sometimes working with finances causes unforeseen emotions. We ask that you acknowledge it and verbally express this to us as professionals, rather than choosing to ignore it through clamming up or yelling or crying. If you need more time, then ask for it. 

Don’t “should all over yourself”

We’ve dealt with many business owners who have dedicated their life’s work to an unprofitable business that is on the brink of destruction.  Often, business owners beat themselves up over the things that they “should have done differently.” They dwell on how they might have prevented themselves from getting to this stage. Know that there were lessons learned in every action you took. While it may be imperfect in nature, you made the best decision that you could at the time. If there is one thing that is certain in small business, it’s that is it very uncertain. You don’t know everything you need to know to get to the next level. Time is a non-renewable resource, so don’t spend your precious time “shoulding” all over yourself!

Give yourself time

To move on from the mess in-between and the resistance that you are feeling from your story not aligning to your reality, you need to give yourself some time. If you did make a mistake (and chances are pretty high that you messed something up), then wallow in it! I love this concept of wallowing in it. Set time in your schedule and plan for the opportunity to really pity yourself, feel miserable, and list out your shortcomings.

Just know that when that time is up, you will pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on, not allowing yourself to go backward again.  You had your time to really feel the feels and process the pity.  As I said earlier, time is a non-renewable resource. After you have had time to process, it is time to let go and step into forward momentum and action. It’s time to build toward sustainability and profitability.

The Impact of Running a Sustainable, Permanently Profitable Business 

Running a sustainable, permanently profitable business takes time and effort, but the transformation can be powerful! Imagine the impact your business will have when there is no fear of being able to meet the next payroll or cover rent payments this month. The ability to be fluid and flexible will allow your transformation from an entrepreneur whose business sucks their money and soul to one in which profitability and sustainability can take center stage in a very crowded environment. This is the space where we feel grounded, humble, and in control of our destiny.

What impact could you have in your business if nothing was holding you back?  Let’s explore! 

Angie Noll