From Despair to Hope

A Few Warning Signs That You (And Your Business) May Be In Despair, And What To Do About It….

“I am much more hopeful as an owner for my own business.” 

That was recent heartfelt feedback I received from my client, they had been in a state of despair. They were disengaged from their own company because they were overwhelmed. They didn’t know what to do, they didn’t know what NOT to do, they didn’t know which end was up! The business owner felt like a sailboat with no rudder – out of control and in despair. They were very busy and not at all productive, and it wasn’t healthy, it was, in fact, scary and dangerous!

After putting the new advisory board in place and slowly, gradually, carefully, professionally stopping the chaos and adding some structure, and then adding accountability to the organization, not just for a few people but for everyone – that combination created the needed mindshift. The process took about three months, and no one got hurt!

How do you know if you need help? Sometimes it’s hard to tell….

I like to ask questions. Questions that make you think. 

A good one to start with is: “Do you have a useful budget? How consistent is your growth?”

Many small companies really don’t have a useful budget, they might have a “budget” but they really don’t use it effectively. If you’re seeing results that are up and down, consistently inconsistent, up and down and up and down – you know there’s a problem. Typically entrepreneurs really don’t like budgets, it’s too hard to stick with and no fun! I grew up with this experience in our family’s early business when I was a kid. We used to hire new people and it would take a few months or maybe a couple of years and when profits were way down, then there would be layoffs and serious cut backs trying to restructure. It’d work for a little while, profits came back and then, sure enough, we’d hire lots of new people and another year or two and back to no profits, so more cutbacks and layoffs – lots of drama and inconsistency, it was hard to do this, over and over, up and down, up and down… Impossible to grow a business in that environment, with no real accountability!  This cycle repeated itself three or four times over a decade, then things finally got more professional and organized into useful budgeting with more accountability and better planning – really growing on purpose not just managing chaos. It worked and things got better, a lot better! Chaos disappeared and real results, and more fun, became consistent. If you’re seeing the same pattern, this is an obvious (or maybe not so obvious) indication that you need a better structure and new approach – don’t blame the budget!

A few other Warning Signs for your work and business:

  • Does your day consist of constantly reacting and putting out fires instead of leading and managing and planning for success?
  • Do you feel like you are just winging it? Are you flying by the seat of your pants?
  • Are you feeling like you are ready to give up? Have you already given up?
  • Does the chaos and stress interrupt your peace (sleep, time with family, health, etc)?
  • Is your business in the red, struggling or just barely breaking even after (how many) years?
  • Has your business plateaued, any planning and/or finances in a state of chaos and you’re frustrated because you don’t know how to grow successfully? 
  • You’re simply tired and frustrated and really don’t know what to do? Is this you?

 

These are a few of the warning signs that your business and you may be moving into despair. If you answered yes to any of the questions above, I strongly suggest you start looking into setting up a board of advisors. While this might seem like a daunting task on top of the chaos you already have, it won’t happen on it’s own – I can help – I’ve got a three-phase process that takes 90 days to set up a new advisory board for your company, and you can do it while you’re still flying by the seat of your pants!

The desire to actually disengage from your own company because you’re out of control is not new, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s just not healthy, and that’s a really dangerous (irresponsible) way to operate a business. I know how that feels, I know how that looks, and I know what to do – as an experienced owner, leader, board member, coach and adviser, I can confidently say that the people and businesses working with me are not in despair anymore. We eliminate the chaos and bring structure and accountability – helping the Founder become an effective CEO of the organization.

So how do you make the transition from chaos to calm by bringing advisors on to a board? 

Step one is to commit to making the change, making the decision and sticking to it, you have to change your thinking and behavior (the WHY and WHAT).

Step two is to set up the appropriate structures and involve the appropriate people, you don’t do this alone (the HOW and WHO).

Step three is to set and manage the proper expectations and execute (the WHEN). Understand that advisory boards are not employees or owners or directors. They don’t vote, they don’t decide or approve or reject, they don’t write checks, they don’t work there, they won’t buy or sell the company. Understand what’s really involved might be simple but not easy, and this is not an overnight process. It will take a lot of things – including focused time and effort, real information sharing, better listening and better decision making, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. It can make all the difference in the world, to the organization and the people involved, including you.

If you’d like to consider the benefits that come with having an organized advisory board for your business, here is an earlier blog post, and please reach out I am happy to talk about it anytime!