They’ve hamstrung themselves even more recently with their reluctance to hire new employees. Almost 80 percent of small businesses did little to no hiring this summer, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.
No new employees, no new ideas, no new projects — too many entrepreneurs have become paralyzed by fear and uncertainty.
Instead of operating out of a place of extreme caution, essentially treading water and just waiting for something good to happen, small business owners should sit down with a blank piece of paper and a “beginner’s mind.”
With that paper in front of you, open your mind to all you’ve never thought of and create something that doesn’t exist: a product, a service, a system. That will awaken your creativity and inspire innovation. Create something new!
Here, I would point to the general lack of consumer excitement over Apple’s newest iPhones, the 5S and 5C. They’re not new! People have come to expect something truly new every time Apple comes out with something, so they’re disappointed.
How else can small-business owners reframe their thinking and tap into that spark that initially set them on their course?
Here are some thoughts:
1. Don’t be so mired in today that you don’t lay the groundwork for infinite possibilities tomorrow. Modesty is often seen as a virtue, but if you’re an entrepreneur, it’s a tragic flaw. What if Steve Jobs’ ambition was to make electronics “a little bit better?” What would the world look like today without iTunes, iPod, iPhone and iPad. Jobs started out with only $5,000, but also a grand vision that he believed in. Thousands of entrepreneurs see their business as a means of doing their work autonomously; they get by and see this as a win. But that modest success may be a tragic handicap.
2. Self-employment is one thing; a thriving business is something altogether different. A small business starts with an idea, but too often the idea is, “I have a talent (or technical skill); I’ll build my business around my execution of that talent.” While this may create the means for self-employment, it closes off the avenues for growth. When a business owner trusts no one else to get the work done, he or she can’t pull away enough to develop new ideas, new products and new opportunities to grow. Find people who can replicate the technical aspects of what you do so that you’re free to explore, experiment and test.
3. Make sure everyone is working toward the same goal. A small business is a system in which all parts contribute to the success or failure of the whole. A human body cannot move forward unless all parts cooperate. If your employees are working toward different goals, they’re not only not moving the business forward, they’re not playing as a team. Foster creativity, enthusiasm and energy by clearly communicating the dream, and the importance and value of each person’s contribution toward it.
(Editor’s Note: This guest “Viewpoint” has been written and submitted by Michael E. Gerber, an entrepreneur, speaker and best-selling author. He is the author of “The E-Myth: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It,” which has sold more than 1 million copies. Gerber is the founder of The Dream Room, the world’s first incubator where entrepreneurs and others are provided the tools and facilitation to see, experience, develop and design their Dream, Vision, Purpose and Mission. Such a Small Business Incubator also operates in the Cleveland and Bradley County community. It is located on the Cleveland State Community College campus.)