In Part One of this essay we explored how to overcome the Obstacle of Overwhelm and the Obstacle of Procrastination. Continue here for the rest of the essay …
3. The Obstacle of Cash Flow
This obstacle is one that hits a lot of businesses at some point during their operation. In fact, managing cash flow is the most important determinant of whether a small business thrives or struggles, according a recent report by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) entitled “In Search of Solid Ground: Understanding the Financial Vulnerabilities of Microbusiness Owners.”
Steve Forbes, the publisher of Forbes Magazine, identified cash flow as the major problem that many small businesses face.
Cash flow problems can be caused by the current shaky economic recovery, poor money management, not enough marketing, too much overhead and a lack of customer response for the product or service that you’re offering.
It can be difficult to want to keep on going when you’re facing cash flow obstacles. But what you have to do at this point is to remember what your dream was in the beginning.
Don’t lose focus during the hard times. So often, a business will go through a rough patch financially – only to turn around in the blink of an eye. Yet too many business owners get so discouraged when the cash isn’t flowing, that they slow productivity.
This slowed productivity then affects the overall business, which contributes to the cash flow problem. There are short-term and then there are long-term cash flow problems.
Short-term cash flow problems can creep up on you suddenly – and sometimes without warning. For example, you could have a big customer account that brings in thousands of dollars a month and suddenly, the customer notifies you that he won’t be needing the services your company offers anymore.
So just like that, your profit is slashed. If the obstacle is a short-term cash flow, you can turn this around in a short amount of time by picking up some easy jobs that your company can do to bring in money.
The faster you can bring in the money, the quicker you’ll solve your cash flow problems. You may want to slash your prices to make quick sales and bring in cash.
You could bring in several smaller companies or individuals who couldn’t afford your services at the higher rate. Running a special to give our business an injection of cash helps you survive during the next planning phase.
Long-term cash flow problems are a bigger obstacle to keep your productivity on track with. When you have this kind of financial issue, it can lead to a lack of supplies, not having enough to pay yourself or your employees and struggles to pay your typical overhead expenses.
Usually, long-term cash flow obstacles do indicate that your business has been headed that way for some time now. You might notice that invoices aren’t being paid on time.
If you allow other companies or individuals to pay you in arrears, several slow payers could hurt your business. If this is the case, then you would need to cut off the company having access to your services until the debt was settled.
Never risk your business’s viability over someone else’s lack of responsibility. Take care of the matter and if necessary, replace a slow or non paying client with someone who is reliable.
Every business will always have an area where there’s a money drain. Go over every section carefully to see where you can cut costs or plug leaks. If necessary, get an outside pair of eyes to look over your day-to-day business operations and make suggestions. They may catch things that you have been overlooking.
If you’re a start up business and cash flow is an obstacle because you don’t have any at all, then barter what services you do have to get what you need. It’s also a good idea to consider working on other cash-generating ideas like freelancing or an offline job if you need money to pursue your dreams.
The key to solving cash flow obstacles is to be resourceful. Keep exploring all options to get the cash flowing. Don’t let yourself be stuck with doing only one thing in one way. Give yourself and your team benchmarks to which everyone is held accountable. And be prudent in spending.
4. The Obstacle of Friends and Family
Your friends and family can be your biggest cheerleaders when you’re trying to reach your dream. But they can also be obstacles. People who care about you can fail to understand and not respect your work schedule.
They can drop by to hang out at your business when you know you should be working. Or if your office is at home, they can interrupt you several times during the day.
This is why you must set and keep clear-cut boundaries, and speak up whenever lines are crossed, if you want to keep productivity flowing.
You must treat your business like a business and respect it – or others won’t.
Sometimes colleagues or people who work in a similar field will show up unexpectedly to chat, and this can temporarily slow you down.
Other times, they come by so often that it becomes an issue. If this is a problem, you’ll have to take control – and it can be as simple as saying, “I’d love to chat, but I have a deadline, so I have to get back to work.”
You may want to schedule lunch, coffee break or after-work socials with them. But be sure to insist that your work time is sacrosanct, and must be respected.
Sometimes, in an effort to save money and offer goodwill, business owners hire family members or friends. Working with people that mean a lot to you can be a great opportunity.
Loved ones and friends working toward a common goal can often increase productivity. But if you have a family member or a friend who doesn’t do what they’re supposed to, that can be a problem.
In order to protect the family or friendship, you might not want to fire that person. If that’s the case, move that person to an area where what they’re doing won’t impact the productivity.
But don’t be afraid to put your foot down if there’s nowhere else to put them. You’re in charge of turning your business into a success, and you need to adhere to your own responsibilities.
Accountability is key here, or your business will suffer.
5. The Obstacle of Fuzzy Mindset
How you feel impacts how your business runs. If you’re experiencing something in your personal life, it can slow productivity. For example, if you’re dealing with a family situation that causes you to lose sleep at night, it can be hard to keep your mind on the tasks at hand the next day at work.
If that’s the case, then you have to find a way to clear your head and push through.
One of the ways that you can do this is by assigning a specific time to think about and work on problems that occur outside of the office. You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of business.
Having the mindset that you’ve learned all there is to know can be a productivity obstacle. In this case, people will continue to do what they’ve always done – even if there might be better way.
You’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you turn a blind eye to opportunities that can help you be more productive just because you’re comfortable with the status quo.
Obstacles are a given in life. You have to strengthen your ability to handle them without panic. Once you learn the right way to navigate toward your goal, you’ll find that the once intimidating obstacles put in your path look less frightening over time.
My attitude is there is no reason to compromise your success. If your dreams are important enough to you, then you should have a hold-no-prisoners attitude this year. Stop fooling around, and stop running round the circle. Get productive.
Remember: success in business and life is not measured by excuses, but by ROI.