I could rent a Ferrari, drive it out to a mansion that’s listed for sale and park in the driveway, get my hair done, make-up done, hire a professional photographer with mad Photoshop skills, and put those photos on my website and you would believe I had it made.
The pictures start to circulate. You think, “Wow, that person has got it together”, and you figure that if you buy my stuff, you’ll somehow have a Ferrari and live in a mansion.
The problem is… it’s not real.
But it IS easy. Easy to fool everyone around me that I have a successful business and that I have all the stuffs.
The truth is, if you were to look at the other side of most businesses, the side they don’t show to the public, you’d likely find a hot mess.
Even the businesses and people you really trust… hot mess.
The forward facing side of a business is not reality, it is marketing, and it can work… for a little while. Because, eventually, it will catch up with them and in order to move forward the business will need to bring their business into balance or it will live on the edge of failure.
I’ve seen it many, many times.
To be clear, the forward-facing business owner you love can totally be lovable. They can have awesome products. They can be awesome themselves. This isn’t about that.
What it is about is what you don’t see.
A business can look super successful and still be a hot mess.
Why does this matter?
Because you aren’t alone.
Yup, if you think you are the only one with a hot mess going on in the other side of your business, you aren’t. It isn’t all that uncommon.
The best part of this is that it can be fixed and that by doing so, you’ll position your business to stabilize and grow.
Most of you know whether or not your business is in a hot mess state. Sure you don’t advertise it. What you show to the world is perfection, happiness, success, and busy-ness.
- if you are struggling to meet your sales goals or pay bills
- if you are taking actions every week to just “get money in the door”
- if you ignore payables
- if you trade work to avoid paying money
- if you have a backlog of tasks that you avoid because right now you just need to focus on getting another client
- if you feel overwhelmed or like you have way too many things to deal with and one more might put you over the top
…well, then you’ve got a hot mess going on.
Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you’re broken. It just means that you might not know how to DO the business part of your business or that you just might not WANT to.
I’ve spent my entire business life on the other side. That’s my gig. As a result, I’ve always worked with people who build the cool widgets, do the “thing” that the business sells, worked with the idea or creative force… because most people who start their own businesses are the ones with the “trade”, the widget, the service skill.
The folks with the “trade” are the coaches, consultants, writers, artists, furniture makers, welders, technicians, bakers, plumbers, landscapers… you get the idea… ALL the businesses.
You know who you are, you love what you do, you love building your widget. But marketing, management, money… ummmm not so much.
I get it.
In all the years of running an automotive service shop, I never once changed the oil in a car or swapped out an air filter, never mind changing out brake pads or fixing an engine.
And the truth is… I didn’t want to. AT ALL. I’m not a widget builder!
I much prefer the other side of the business: managing money, running reports, looking at numbers and ratios, marketing, hiring and firing, dealing with customers, liaising with vendors, writing contracts, reviewing budgets, etc.
I’m a bit of an outlier I suppose because I actually love all that stuff!
It is the reason I know how most businesses operate.
So, if you fall into the category of widget builder, “trade” doer, or business owner with a hot mess brewing on the other side of your business… there’s a way to get things back into alignment.
And, here’s the thing… if you are fighting or ignoring the hot mess in your business, it will prevent your business from stabilizing, it will prevent your business from growing, it will prevent profitability, and even though you can keep managing it in its current state… it will always feel overwhelming and stressful.
So let’s look at how you can start to turn things around, because you deserve to have a business you love.
The first step in any process is acceptance… really! You need to be okay with the fact that some part of your business is in a state of hot mess. It’s okay.
I have a hot mess brewing somewhere on my desk right now. For me, the issue is a time issue. If I get a busy week, then I will shift things around so that I have time for the extra work and that means something in my business doesn’t get attention that week.
When the week passes and things slow down… and then I find the hot mess I’d been ignoring… well I need to just accept that “it is what it is” and then move to fix it.
No matter the size of your hot mess, it’s okay, just accept it and resolve to fix it.
The next step is all about assessment. This will be different for everyone. I will say, however, that many times the hot messes that are brewing tend to be in the money department – accounting, financial, bookkeeping… to name a couple. But no matter where your hot mess is hiding, the thing to do is sit and assess all of the parts of your business.
To make this easy, you can look at it through the Balance Driven Business Triad™ framework. That means looking at the three main buckets in your business: money, marketing, and management.
Starting with the money bucket, assess what tasks have been neglected or tasks that you haven’t gotten to. Simply look at every task related to money in your business and put it on a money task list.
Do the same with marketing tasks and management tasks. If you don’t know which bucket a task falls into, no problem, put it on an “other” list. The key here is to simply start assessing your business and making a list. Put everything on it that you know needs attention include everything no matter how small.
Once you have your lists, it’s time to filter and prioritize.
This step is probably the most difficult because we have a tendency to believe that everything on the list is important and required.
That simply isn’t true.
Some things should be wiped from the list entirely.
But… how do you know what should stay and what should go? How do you prioritize when everything on the list looks important?
And, here’s the big one… how can you even begin to filter the lists when every single item feels overwhelming and, even, yucky.
My best advice… you just start.
Pick the first list – it should be the money list because money makes our businesses run. Take the first item on the list and ask:
- Why is this item important?
- Is this item necessary to the health of my business?
- What would happen if I wiped this item from the list?
- If the item stays on my list, how can I tackle it efficiently?
Depending upon the size of your lists, this can be a process that takes some time.
Never overwhelm yourself intentionally, it isn’t necessary to tackle the filtering all in one day. It is important to carve out time each day to work on this part of the process.
Once all the filtering is complete, you should have a much shorter list of tasks and these can then be prioritized.
When balancing your business, always take in all of the buckets equally. So for each money task you list as a priority, also choose a marketing task and management task.
The idea is to keep working on all the parts of your business in equal measure. If all we tackle are money issues, we won’t be working to fill the queue with more customers. If we only tackle marketing tasks, we won’t be managing our operations and may not be able to handle the increase of new work.
Always balance out your tasks.
Just Do It
Ultimately, once we have a prioritized list of tasks. The next step is to just get them done.
I know it isn’t always that simple.
At the very moment we look at our list we may feel a sense of overwhelm and suddenly feel stressed out.
If you’ve let a hot mess brew, simply beginning the process of tackling it isn’t going to remove your emotional attachment.
Hopefully, how you feel about getting started will change as you work through the filtering stage. Once you begin to systematically tackle these things, it’s much easier to become less attached to them. Like anything, one step at a time leads to getting things done.
If you feel like some of the items are more than you have bandwidth for, then get help. Find a bookkeeper if setting up an accounting software and getting your Chart of Accounts set up is way too daunting.
In some cases, having someone help you get caught up with a task means you can start fresh with the task or contract someone to manage it.
Balancing the other side of your business leads to stability in your business and while there are always the ups and downs of business ownership, those ups and downs are faced much more easily when you aren’t stressed out, overwhelmed, and frustrated.
It is so much easier to grow your business in any area if things are running smoothly. Once a business is in balance, the important tasks become more clear and when it’s time to build in a new service, or add an employee, or bring a new product to fruition… doing so is easy.
No matter what you want to grow – keeping more of the money you make, time for more non-work activities, bigger clients and contracts – whatever it is, when the other side of your business is strong, growth is easy.
How strong is the other side of YOUR business?