Is Your Business Under Fire?

As a business owner, is your enterprise truly thriving, or are you feeling the pressure from your competitors who are breathing down your neck? If your business is not what you want it to be, what do you think is really going on? Being a business owner is probably one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of life, and at this time of year, we all need a quick business reality check. This article will provide you with a quick assessment of the business behaviors which are contributing to your success or those which might be triggering failure. As you are reading each statement, perform a quick self assessment. Can you answer “yes” to each statement? If not, your business might be under fire, and it’s time to turn it around.

1) I know exactly why I’m in this business to begin with. Whether it’s a sense of freedom that’s driving you or a need to connect to your customers in a special way with what you have to offer, your business “why” needs to be clear. By knowing the why, your business can gain momentum by having a clear direction and specific measurable outcomes.

2) I understand and have implemented the fundamental principles of business. This means you have a good working knowledge of business strategy (business planning and marketing) and the systems necessary for business success such as bookkeeping/accounting, legal issues, database management, and entity structuring. Once you have educated yourself about these fundamental principles, the next step is to implement and carefully monitor the systems that will keep your business moving forward.

3) I am taking reasonable risks. Contrary to popular belief, savvy entrepreneurs do not take wild risks. They balance their sense of adventure and out-of-the-box thinking with common sense, due diligence and research. Taking ongoing reasonable risks will infuse energy and life into your business and will actually challenge you to stretch and grow as both a business owner and a person.

4) I know how to mitigate risk. Do you have liability insurance, a back-up system for your paper and electronic documents, proper contracts and agreements? If not, you may be setting yourself up for risky business. Get your business in order, and make sure that your goals, methods and protocol are clearly spelled out and that your team is aligned with where you are going.

5) I know how to make decisions quickly. You’ve heard the cliche┬é “time is money”. There’s definitely some truth to that. As a savvy business owner, you will be called to combine your knowledge and your intuition to make decisions that are quick and smart. In today’s fast-moving, high tech world, the name of the game is “speed to market”, and your ability to make good choices without dragging your feet is critical to your ability to create the momentum necessary to pull your business forward and to create a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

6) I am developing networks and strong working relationships both inside and outside my industry. Collaboration is powerful and synergistic, and the possibilities and solutions for your business increase exponentially by having a strong network. Building a network inside your industry will strengthen your expertise, but the real juice in networking happens when you begin to reach out beyond the boundaries of your profession to people who can bring fresh ideas and creative perspectives to your business.

7) I understand that implementing a great strategy is critical to my success. Having a great strategy is key to creating a sustainable competitive advantage in your industry, and knowing which strategies to implement can be a formidable task. Choosing a strategy is simple, yet the execution of the strategy is where most business owners fall short. With a careful, planned approach to execution, your strategic goals can be attained. Working with a coach who specializes in strategy and execution can support you in moving through the obstacles which will pop up along the way.

8) I effectively implement sales, marketing and customer service strategies which are contributing to my growth and bottom line profits. You have the avenues in place to let everyone know you’re open. You know your target market inside and out, and you are dedicated to finding new ways to reach them and provide ongoing value each and every day. You fully understand that if you are a business owner, you are not just a technician, you are now fully committed to the business of sales, marketing and delivering outstanding customer service.

9) I stay current with technologies, trends and developments in business. If your thinking is back in the 70s or 80s, you’re going to get left behind, and you better keep up, or you’re going to get thumped by the competition. Keeping up with technology-particularly as it ties to the information age–is not optional…in today’s fast forward world, it’s a requirement to stay in the game of business.

10) I foster an environment that encourages creativity and development of new ideas. This means that you’re open to “coincidences”, you listen to feedback, you’re patient and collaborative and you embrace change… Fresh … dynamic is what it’s all about! You are someone who welcomes all ideas-the radical, off-the-beaten-path, the controversial, and the seemingly benign. You suspend all judgment and allow your playful side to participate. Solo or in groups, this is important. Break the rules! Start with a multitude of ideas and then focus on the best solutions for your business.

So how did you do? If you didn’t get 100%, there is a way to get you there by joining the Business Under Fire Program for 2007.

Bea Fields & Carol Dickson Carr Copyright 2006