Take your business to the next level. Truth be told, this phrase and others like it are horrible. Level up. Grind. Hustle hard. Every one of these “motivational” terms is more discouraging than the next. As a business owner, I want to know how not to run a business. I want to talk about all the things we have done wrong in our ten years as a company because every one of those mistakes was a lesson. We have spent the last ten years perfecting our processes and owning up to our mistakes, even though we know we are perfect (wink).
I used to be the type to push and go for it. I would encourage others to start the business. Now, I tell them not to rush into it. Before jumping in, consider weighing the pros and cons. If you are a small business owner, you cannot be afraid to fail. Failure happens as a business owner, in some way, shape, or form. For some, it can be small, for others, not so much. But, all is possible, and being a business owner is amazing and rewarding. For example, my wife recently took the leap and is starting her own business. One night at dinner, we were chatting about the struggles most run into when first starting as a company. She then asked, “You tell everyone else not to start a business, so why are you not telling me that?”. The first thing out of my mouth was, “I am afraid of you, and you wouldn’t have listened to me anyway!”. We both laughed, and then, in all seriousness, I looked at her and told her, because you know how to fail forward.
This conversation left me wondering what did I wish I knew when starting my business? I thought more about it and realized that I needed to know how not to run a business, so here are the main things Michigan Creative did not do when first starting that we do now.
Sales, sales, sales. How many more times can I say this? In the first few years, I spent my time crafting a culture, a fun work environment, and really figuring out who we were as a business. It was great. We had a lot of fun doing it, but really, I should have been focusing on who our next client was. Sales are important to every business, that’s no secret, but it is easily forgotten. Make a plan and hit the sales hard while slowly working on culture, fun, and all the other good stuff. Without sales, you have no culture, and you have no company.
Have a process for everything you do. I know, personally, I hate processes. When it comes to organization, meetings, and other business requirements, it’s just not something I prefer to do. But, it still needs to be done, so I do them. Once we created processes, things started moving smoothly for our team. Processes give you a solution to your problems. What is the process when you get a new customer or when a new proposal is sent out? When someone calls to inquire about work, whats your process?
Know your numbers. Hire a great accountant that knows what money you have, what you do not have, and what you need to get to make it through the month. We made so many accounting mistakes it is frightening. Track everything. Know how many proposals, sales calls, referrals, etc., you need to hit your numbers. Every day, every month, every quarter, every year.
Again, track everything you do. Try to put a return on investment on any marketing and advertising you do. Only work with companies that can show proof of ROI (I know a great one!). Invest in your marketing wisely. Is your networking making you money? How much? What is your time worth? What is your revenue goal from each event you go to or any sponsorship you do? Create a marketing plan, track your revenue, and stay in business.
Write your core values that speak to how you want your employees to be. Write your core values and messaging based on who you want your team to be and how you want your customers to perceive it. Show your audience how your employees are better people for following them. The customer will always come first if you do this. Also, don’t just write them down and put them on your website. Integrate your core values into everything you do daily. At Michigan Creative, our core values are used on our sales sheet, review sheet and are the base for everything we do at MC.
I wish I had known how not to run a business starting day one rather than ten years later. But, better late than never, and that’s why I am here today writing this. Don’t get me wrong. Our team does a great job at doing all of these things now. I believe that this is why we are where we are today. Putting all this in place the last two years has really made a big difference in how we are doing, how we feel and has made me 100% confident that not only are we getting started, the best is yet to come!
I love to talk about all this and would love to talk with you and see if we can help in any way we can. Get in touch with us, and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more business and marketing tips and trends.