Self-examination tough, but important

Erika Jones

Take a long, hard look at your business. Do you like what you see? While this is often a difficult task for business owners, it can be an important one.

Time presents the first obstacle to a critical self-examination. How many owners take time out of their businesses to work on their businesses?

It’s hard to see things for what they really are when you’re in the thick of it every day. You often only have a few minutes to put out whatever fire is burning at the moment, leaving little time to look back and learn from mistakes, much less plan for success. Here’s one of favorite sayings: “Proper planning prevents poor performance.” I’m not sure who said it, but I agree with it The second reason business owners don’t really take a long, hard look at their business is they’re afraid of what they’ll see.

My husband and I were guilty on both counts in running our business. By not making time for a thoughtful evaluation and being afraid of what we’d see, our business quickly got out of hand, and not in a good way. 

We were spending so much time on clients we didn’t fully appreciate everything we did for them and weren’t making any money in the process. We weren’t doing what we really loved any more, either. Rather, we were just doing what clients asked us to do because we believed we couldn’t tell them no.

We didn’t take time to really evaluate our operation and the direction it was headed to determine if that was the right way to go. We were just trying to keep up. And as the passion we initially brought to our business diminished, so did the quality of our work and our enthusiasm for our clients.

Sometimes it takes something else in your life to make you re-evaluate everything. Our event was the birth of our son, Carter, earlier this year. Carter is nothing short of amazing and really made us realize we don’t want to miss even one minute of our lives together. But we still faced a workload from hell. So what should we do?

We started  by looking at every aspect of our business through a microscope. Clients, expenses, overhead, packages, partners — you name it, we evaluated it. What we saw was frightening.

We discovered we didn’t spend enough time practicing what we preach: Take time out of your business to work on your business. We also discovered we no longer loved what we were doing. So we changed operations. We might lose some clients, but we’re also attracting the right kind of clients. We reviewed the services and products we offered. If they weren’t fun and innovative, we discontinued them. We also thought up some new and innovative ideas for our clients.

 After dedicating the time and committing to a new process, we rekindled a passion for our business that hadn’t been there in a long time. We picked up the important things we let fall by the wayside and changed the things that needed to change.

So my questions remain: When was the last time you took a long, hard look at your business? Do you like what you see? If not, how do you plan to change your operations?

Don’t make decisions for your business based out of fear. That only leads to misery. Make decisions based on your passion and entrepreneurial spirit. It’s still there. You might have to take some time and summon the courage to look for it. But you’ll find it. And when you do, don’t let it go ever again.