Never Allow These Habits In Your Business, If You Want to Consistently Win

The motivational speaker Anthony Robbins often says, “Success leaves clues.” He believes there’s no such thing as accidental success.

Conversely, I believe there’s no such thing as accidental business failure.

Almost every chronically stuck and struggling business I’ve worked with during the past two decades committed at least one of these management errors:

  1. They don’t do any kind of formal business planning
  2. They don’t frequently and consistently review, assess and interpret their business’ financial and cash flow performance
  3. They habitually take a “no help needed” attitude

No Formal Business Planning

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there” is my paraphrase of the Cheshire Cat in Alice In Wonderland. Without a purposeful and clear destination in mind, you’re not acting but reacting all the time.

Too many small businesses react to each day. Directionless days lead to similar weeks, months and years. Their companies are like ships on the deep ocean, solely navigating based on winds, currents and storms—all external events.

There are many reasons for this self-defeating behavior. They all boil down to this: “I don’t need a plan because I know what I’m doing and where I’m going.” If only that were true, then small business failure statistics would be very different!

Here’s the secret sauce of business planning.

While it’s nice to have and consistently review a written plan, 70% of the real value of business planning lies in the planning process itself. It’s the thinking, analyzing, assessing, creativity and playing “what if” that pay off.

Do an annual or bi-annual plan for the deep and enduring value the discipline of the planning process creates. Your business will be infinitely better off in all kinds of ways.

Management Doesn’t Know the Numbers

This is THE #1 REASON small businesses get into trouble, struggle and, all too often, fail.

Their leaders aren’t comfortable with “the numbers.” They treat numbers like a leper colony—avoiding them and outsourcing this vital management function to others.

If you don’t know and use the numbers of your business, you can’t manage it. At the very least, you are at a serious disadvantage in discussions or negotiations with those who do know their numbers.

You don’t have to be an accountant, CPA or analytical wizard to understand numbers. You can learn this. There are many resources available, but you have to care enough to find and act on them—and ask for help from others who are in the know. Start here:

Finance Without Fear
William Hettinger and John Dolan-Heitlinger

Remember: you are responsible for the health and well-being of your company. You must learn and speak the only language your business knows—numbers. You’ll never be sorry. That’s a promise.

“No Help Needed” Management

This is the root of all the fatal habits.

Many small business owners believe an unfortunate myth. It’s a story about heroic entrepreneurs who started their business in a literal or figurative garage. Then they built it to astonishing levels of success, wealth and power—by sheer force of their personal will, smarts, vision and persistence in the face of overwhelming odds.

Their names include Jobs, Gates, Buffet, Ford, Watson, Sears, Packard and Hewlett to name just a few.

But the myth of the solo successful entrepreneur is sheer baloney—and worse, it’s downright dangerous!

None of the great entrepreneurs created and built their businesses alone. They all had help. And they had the courage, intelligence and self-awareness to know when they needed it.

They wanted their businesses to thrive and flourish. They understood that they would never know enough and have enough skill and experience to personally solve every problem. No single person is ever that good.

If you’re enrolled in the Lone Ranger School of Business Management, leave immediately and register in the School of Involve Others Management. After all, even the Lone Ranger had Tonto …

There is no additional praise, money or special awards for going it all alone. The only real certainty is this creates a clear and predictable path to business stagnation, decline and, ultimately, death. You—and your company—deserve better.

Key Ideas

  1. Business success and failure leave clues. Both result from the habits and behaviors that start with their leaders.
  2. Not using a formal business planning process is the same as planning to stagnate or fail.
  3. The language of business is numbers. Become fluent in it. This isn’t that hard and doesn’t take that long. Take advantage of the resources out there and you’ll “speak business” like a native.
  4. Great entrepreneurs didn’t graduate from the Lone Ranger School of Business Management. Instead, they know when they or the business need help, and they’re not afraid to ask for it. Be afraid of not asking!