A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a small business owner that had just gone through a series of issues.

We talked about what actions he had taken and what were the odds of hitting the target. We were about at the end of the meeting and he said, “it's always difficult, isn't it.” I said yes, “it's always difficult and it must be.” What small business has not faced difficulties as it survived and grew. How do you grow both personally and professionally to make the business successful if you are not challenged? I submit that when you are comfortable with how things are going, the business is at risk. Let me share some thoughts that may help.

For many years I kept a cartoon on my desk. It was Ziggy looking at a mirror and saying, “I have found the problem and the problem is me.” The problem is me when you’re listening to the tyrant within. Those negative thoughts that tell you you’re not up to the job of owning and running your business. I am hearing this many times when sitting in their offices and the business is alive. Maybe you are facing some serious issues but the company still exists. Those negative thoughts within are sapping energy and slowing down progress. Get rid of them. Focus on the good stuff.

One of my favorite motivational speakers is Brian Tracy. My two favorite quotes from him are, “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me” and the other is, “the way to beat fear is to face it.”

Thinking of the external aggravations that make running a business difficult, I found it helpful to make a list of the top five things that I’m facing right now that are roadblocks to where I want to take the business.

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Putting that list on a chalkboard in your office is a daily reminder of your priorities. The listing isn’t enough, every item on that list needs a written plan of action implemented to eliminate or significantly reduce the stress that you experience. Perhaps that’s why I found the Brian Tracy quotes above so helpful. What also helped was to find and make use of the many outside resources that could help me develop a plan of action on each item. I kept the plan in my desk for privacy reasons.

Reflecting on my experience as a SCORE mentor working with small businesses, I find that many of the problems develop because the owners are “too darn nice.” They don’t want to offend. They tolerate employees that are unproductive or, in some cases, a cancer in the organization. They let vendors set the ground rules when the vendors should be more supportive in cash flow, product improvement, on time delivery and quality. I’ve seen cases where customers are making demands, such as keeping inventory on hand with no commitment to take that inventory if there is a business slow down or redesign of the product.

I recently received this quote on the internet with no reference to the author. “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” Isn’t that the truth. Grow your business and prosper, you have the skill, commitment and resources to overcome the difficulties. Accept that there will always be challenges.

SCORE is here to help, contact us at 218-251-4413, richard.jordan@scorevolunteer.org or score.org.