8 Non-Monetary Things That May Be Costing You In Business!
Updated: Dec 8, 2019
Everything costs you in business, whether it is in money, time, effort or priority. In the business world, we hear endlessly about startup costs, operating expenses, having adequate working capital, hiring employees (and offering the required insurances), purchasing inventory, but what about those other costs? Those self-generating costs that are not necessarily monetary in nature, but they begin to add up once the "NOW OPEN" sign goes up!
It is easy to see how people get caught up in the glamour and expected ease of starting and owning a business. Social media has made it seem that you can become an overnight sensation with not much skill, education, or passion. Along with that, people are seeing the need for multiple income streams and job flexibility, so they are turning to businesses with low startup costs to better their chances of financial success. However, we tend to forget that many of the multi-millionaires and billionaires that we emulate today, went years without a profit. With a little research, you will find that many of them tell you that they did not invent something spectacular or reinvent the wheel, but they had personal characteristics that made them fearless and tenacious. It is important to know that great responsibility comes with business ownership, and this article will help you to explore some of those inevitable encounters. The entrepreneurial road is sometimes a lonely one with a lot of hills and valleys to navigate, so it is important to know what you are getting yourself into and be prepared to tough it out.
Many business owners often find themselves in tough situations, because they either want to please everyone or they only want to please themselves. As an entrepreneur, the choices made should benefit the collective (the business, the employees, and its customers). As the business begins to grow (addition of employees, mergers, franchising, expansions, etc.) so will your list of responsibilities. Even if you have to scale back on some aspects of the business you have to know what choices will have a better outcome. I often mention to clients that if they are not good at making decisions they should definitely have a trusted partner that can and will; however, personal and professional development courses should be added to their tasks list. You are the point of contact for everything pertaining to the business, so even if you decide to delegate tasks. the outcomes still rest on your shoulders. You also have to continuously choose to balance the balance along with your obligations.
Personal/ Social Life
For a lot of us, we venture into business ownership to have more control of our scheduling and private life. What we fail to realize is that in the beginning stages, the developmental process can be time and energy-consuming. Establishing a business and a brand takes time, which may require a lot of late nights, pop up meetings/ phone conferences, quick decision making, and other little nuisances. Even with a home office, it can still be challenging to find that balance early on. If possible, involve your family as much as possible.
Before you commit to something that will demand your attention, discuss it with your significant other. Force yourself to shut down and unplug from the business when you are spending time with family, because it is often the quality of time spent together over the quantity. As the foundation of your business strengthens you can then enjoy the vacations, flexible scheduling, and those other wonderful perks. If you are the sole owner and operator of a business, you are the business, so the business relies on you to open, close, manage, and oversee.
In the formation stage of a business, the customer is front and center. Great emphasis is placed on discovering and understanding your target market(s), pricing your products/ services competitively, but somehow the customer experience becomes less important with time. As an entrepreneur, you cannot afford to let your customers feel unappreciated, especially if you are in an industry that is highly saturated with competitors. Customer service is key! Do not forget that you work for your customers; they essentially control the size of your paycheck, what products/ services succeed, and the direction of your business' future. It is also equally important to have a way to keep in touch with your customers so that you can create brand loyalty. It is invaluable to know your customers and to connect with them no matter how large or small the numbers may be. Having good systems in place that help you to connect and keep track of your customers is a great way to eliminate a lot of the guesswork that comes with marketing effectively and delivering the goods and services that your customers are valuing.
To save yourself money and confusion, it is important to operate in a spirit of proficiency and efficacy. Take advantage of resources that are available for small businesses, which are usually offered through banks, universities, online courses, community organizations, and the city in which you operate. They can keep you abreast of seminars, networking opportunities, government developments/ legislation that can benefit your business (or that can potentially affect it). By assessing your needs you can see what new software and applications you can take advantage of that will help you maximize your scheduling, organization, payroll, account receivables, and so forth. It is imperative that you find ways to continuously improve your processes and take full advantage of the offerings made available by the programs that you utilize.
In business and life, it is important to not become complacent and satisfied with knowing "just enough." People often tell me that they know how to make their products and/ or deliver excellent service, but the "business part" they will leave to someone else. I cannot count how many times I had to give them the bad news that someone had taken advantage of their naivety and that is why they are experiencing some of the hardships that they are currently facing. Along with that, they discover that they paid a ridiculous amount of money for a service that they could have done on their own or that they did not receive what they should have from the arrangement. It is important to know at least the basics of what is required for your taxes, how your bookkeeping system works, what the proposed outcomes are from your marketing plan and all those other areas that are applicable to your business. In order to hold yourself accountable and the company that you are getting assistance from, you have to know what is required and expected.
It is important to remain grounded and humbled because people notice. It should go without saying, but it is disheartening to witness terrible customer service, employees being cheated in their pay, vendors not receiving their payments, because of a neglectful business owner. It is your duty to do your due diligence to make sure that you are hiring adequate help, using quality products, truthful marketing, and fairness with your customers/ contractors/ vendors. Pride and your bottom line should never override the integrity of your business, so as tempting as it may be, you have to keep yourself disciplined and honest. We often benchmark companies that we feel are dominant in our particular industries, but it is crucial that you do not adopt their bad behaviors. Some companies are able to get away with more because of who they are, but you may not be afforded those same opportunities; keep with the mindset of doing things with good intent. Your personal and professional behavior can make or break your business!
As a business owner, it is imperative that you remain creative, open, and flexible to new ideas, experiences, and opportunities. A business that is afraid to take risks and/or step outside of its comfort zone tends to lose its competitive edge much quicker than those who continuously refresh themselves. It is important not to deviate from your foundation and purpose, but do know that it is okay to take heed of the industry's trends, the customer's wants, and other factors that may contribute to your revenue. Having a good team that can develop your vision is critical because sometimes it can be challenging to see outside of our lenses. Also, when expanding your business you may find that new rules apply, so it is important to know what those new additions will cost you in insurance, licensing/ permits, training, and compliance.
I know the thought of being your own boss is so enticing because you feel that you have to answer to no one but yourself. However, there are industries that are highly regulated and governed, so it is important to do your research to know what you have to adhere to. Not answering to a manager or supervisor is great, but now you may be in direct contact with local officials, state and federal entities. Small businesses, especially, may not be able to afford the fines and fees associated with missing federal deadlines, not having proper insurances in place, not passing inspections, and so forth. Consulting with quality and professionals may be in your best interest because it can be overwhelming and difficult to know where to start when you are striving to do business the "right way."
Owning a business sounds brag-worthy, but if you are going into it with only part of the picture, you may be shocked to see what it really entails. It is easy to get caught up in the appearance of things because a lot of it is designed to be that way. We all have a purpose to fulfill, and many of us are able to do it by opening businesses that fill a void in our communities. Remember, business ownership is similar to a roller coaster ride, so when it seems like things are not going your way that is the perfect time to reinvent yourself and try out new strategies. Keep Romans 12:2 in the back of your mind, “do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”