Businesses, even successful ones, can experience a variety of problems that can directly impact on overall performance. Peter Johnston, head mentor for the Australian Businesswomen’s Network, raises six key issues that are commonly faced by small businesses, and the importance of mentors in assisting with addressing them to the benefit of business owners.
Passion is essential to business success. Passion can be displayed by what business owners do or sell, or their passion for family, independence, sovereignty, financial security and wealth creation.
“The majority of small business owners really are driven by an undying passion, there’s a reason that they started their business, and that passion has fired them up.”
There are many scenarios where passion has been ignited, and Peter lists examples such as: moving towards retirement, having a baby and wanting to have more time to be with family, as just three examples of motivators for women to start a business.
“Often I’ll have people say what they don’t want to be dictated to, opposed to what skills they possess or can and can’t do – so they want sovereignty and independence. These are all important cases of business decisions being made due to passion.”
Planning has three major roles in business, according to Peter. Firstly, planning defines in the business owner’s mind the processes needed to achieve goals. Planning also acts as a communication tool for stakeholders (staff, suppliers, etc.) and it assists in creating a vision, in essence being able to see what is wanted and needed to be done.
“Planning is key, it’s a part of creation. Without it you just can’t create.”
Setting goals and expectations is one part, but it requires planning.
“Planning, or the failure to plan, it’s almost too rudimentary to mention, but you’d be surprised how many people do not plan, they just stop, and they don’t strategise, or put down ideas.”
The concept of throughput is based around production and productivity.
“If you don’t produce a product or service, marketing material or staff training, then your business will fail.”
Business owners should avoid getting caught up with insignificant details, or ‘analysis paralysis’. Throughput needs to take place, as mistakes can always be corrected or remedied.
“Don’t forgo quality and don’t accept second rate material or product for the sake of throughput, however throughput really needs to be about completion and getting things done.”
- Expanding the game
Peter explains business owners can be holding themselves back due to limited beliefs of themselves, fear or lack of experience, and again highlights the role of the mentor to assist in expanded thinking.
“I don’t think there’s anyone on this planet that can’t expand. It could be the size of your business that you need to expand in your thinking, or it could be the markets in which you operate, the turnover or the impact your business is going to have.”
In at least 50 percent small business owners Peter has spoken with, their limitations are obvious, even if they cannot see it themselves.
“As a mentor it’s very easy to hear it and see where they’re sort of holding themselves back.”
- Expanding the game
The ability and willingness to learn more about topics that business owners are not familiar with, is essential in order to ask the questions that need to be asked. As a mentor, Peter states that one of his jobs is encouraging mentorees to improve their knowledge and to ask better questions.
“If you don’t know what to ask, then you won’t get the answers you need.”
Peter explains that the first sign of a problem is when business owners believe they know everything. Commitment to work should also be displayed and mirrored in enthusiasm to learning as well.
“For me, this is key, your chances of success in business increase exponentially and in equal proportion in my mind, so the commitment you have to your own education and personal development.” “I’ve often said that building a business is one of life’s great personal development adventures, it will show you your strengths, your shortcomings, your gaps in what you know, and the areas that you need to work on.”
Peter Johnston is the head mentor for the Australian Businesswomen’s Network mentoring services and has mentored dozens of business owners.