Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thinking Small

Everyone loves small business these days:

Isn't it nice to be smothered with love?  Small business big-brotherhood is better than a Tiger Mom, I suppose, but will these grasstop, macro efforts impact the "mom-and-pop" operations that make up most of the employment base of this country?

Color me doubtful.  For a very simple reason:  We think too big.  We are a nation of ideas.  Ideas are not in short-supply; they are like opinions -- everyone has one, at the very least.  Big honking ideas.  And, sadly, big ideas are a dime-a-dozen.

Small business owners certainly don't lack ideas, or the optimism, desire or drive to improve their business.  What they lack are the resources to get their ideas out of their heads and into play in their operations.   They lack the nuts and bolts process to put them into practice.   And they lack the ability to focus on fewer, rather than more, things.  (Funding plays a part, of course, but that's the subject for another post.)  

How does one decide which ideas are worth pursuing and which are non-starters?  How does a business owner decide what his/her priorities should be?

Let's get small:  
  • Start with one clean sheet of paper.
  • Ask yourself, "what is the one factor that is most critical to the success of my business in the next 12 months, that I can directly control?"  Write down the answer.
  • Ask yourself, "What are the 3-5 actions I need to take to achieve that goal?" Write down the answer.
  • Ask yourself, "What do I do that does not contribute to achieving that goal?" Write down the answer. (This may be the longest answer by far.)
  • Ask yourself: "Who can I bounce my ideas and plans off of?" Write down the answer.
You may find that this simple exercise helps you focus your thinking on your true priorities, eliminating the unproductive tasks that distract you from putting our ideas into action, and identifying the resources that you must add to succeed.

The devil, as they say, is in the details.

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