Listen… hear that?
It’s the sound of dozens, if not hundreds of people telling you how to run your business. The advice, tips and tactics are all great but there’s another side that rarely gets mentioned.
In this article I’m going to dive into five simple things you can do to crash your business.
No, I don’t want you to fail. It’s just so much easier to start with what you should NOT be doing rather than all of the things people say you should be doing.
Do your best to avoid these things and you’ll have a much better chance at succeeding with your computer business.
1. Go Big From The Start
Eric was a bright young tech with dreams of owning his own computer business. Fresh out of college he decided to jump all in and start his business. He didn’t have much money so he decided to run his computer business from his home. Eric’s business was doing pretty well in just a few short months. As he was reading through forums, Eric would see references from some of the more established computer business owners about using PSAs, CRMs and other fancy business tools. The benefits seemed to outweigh the costs so Eric purchased these same tools even though he only had a handful of clients. After all, if the bigger businesses are using these tools then he needs to use them as well.
Within a few short months Eric’s cash flow was being squeezed tighter and tighter. Instead of getting new business he was focused on learning and using these new tools he was spending money on. Before too long Eric had to close his business and find a job.
What went wrong?
One common mistake I see many small or startup businesses do is to try to act like they’re a bigger company right from the start. This tactic may do nothing more than suck your cash flow and choke your business out before it gets started good.
Lesson learned: Start simple… get fancy later.
2. Do Everything Yourself
Scott was a great technician and had grown his business to a respectable level over a couple of years. Scott had just one big problem, he thought he had to do everything himself. Besides, if you want something done right…
At first Scott could handle juggling everything. But slowly things started slipping through the cracks. First, it was working really long hours trying to get everything done. Then the problems spread to his bookkeeping and invoicing as work wasn’t getting billed because Scott would get busy and simply forget about it… we’ve all done that haven’t we?
As time passed Scott began to dread going to work. The very thing that he once loved became that which he hated. Instead of running his business, Scott’s business was running him. The final straw was spending a few days in the local hospital after suffering from a stress induced breakdown. Scott was forced to close the doors and never looked back.
What went wrong?
As much as we think we can do it all, it is really a very bad idea. Every hour you spend working IN your business is an hour you are not working ON your business. Sure, starting out you may have to wear all the hats but you should have a short term plan to off-load or automate your computer business processes as soon as you can. This will enable you to focus on growing your business and allow for you to spend more time on the things that you enjoy, you’re good at and that are profitable.
Lesson learned: Getting help in your business should be done sooner than later. Those with Superhero Syndrome rarely succeed in business. Smart business owners know how to off load the tasks that they shouldn’t be doing and focusing on the tasks that the business needs to thrive.
3. Fail To Differentiate An Expense From An Investment
This one was a personal struggle of mine in the early years of my business and I didn’t even realize the damage it was doing. Being a very financially conscious person, I did not like to spend money unless it was absolutely necessary. On the surface that sounds like a good idea.
I’ve since learned the value of investing in myself, my employees and my business. I won’t lie, hiring a bookkeeper at $100+ per month was hard. Spending $500 on an online course wasn’t easy either. Spending $1000 to attend a weekend conference nearly made me sick when I booked the reservations. However, looking back I now know that those things were not expenses, they were investments.
The money and time I invested in outsourcing something I dreaded and wasn’t very good at (computer business bookkeeping) was such a stress reliever and gave me back several hours a month to focus on revenue generating tasks. The investment in online courses and educational opportunities gives me the tools I need to continue to drive my business and ensure that my clients are getting the best service and support. Conferences have proven to be the best thing I’ve ever done to meet new business owners and has catapulted my business farther and faster than what I could have achieved otherwise.
Lesson learned: Keep expenses in check but be sure to recognize investments and take advantage of them when they make sense for you and your business. One word of caution here… information without application leads to frustration. Just taking classes or going to conferences are useless if you do not act on the information.
4. Focus On What Your Business Does
As crazy as this may sound, if you only focus on what your business does then you will eventually fail. The key to running a business is… well… knowing how to run a business. You want to know why most businesses fail? Behind the dozens of answers you’ll get to that question is typically one root problem. The business owner just did not know how to run the business.
Being a good technician won’t get you that far. If you expect to grow past a solopreneur and become a true entrepreneur then you must learn how to do business. Each and every year people who are good at their craft will leave the workforce and start their own business only to fail within five years. I’m sure that was their plan. They sat back one day and said, “I think it would be fun to quit my job, start a business, work my butt off, spend every dime I have and go out of business within a few years.”
Lesson learned: Start and continue to learn how to run your computer business, not simply learn what your business does.
5. Sell Technology
You want to know a little secret? If you read and act on this one thing, it may revolutionize your business. The secret sauce to really standing out in this business is this… you never sell technology!
Why? Because you are not in the technology business. That’s right! You are in the customer service business. Technology is simply the vehicle that you use to provide customer service. Read that again… go ahead… let it marinate. Your competitors are talking to potential clients in geek speak about all the technical solutions they have. This is a bad way to get customers. Customers typically don’t understand what you’re telling them and frankly they don’t care. What they do care about is the end results and the customer service.
You don’t have to be the best technician in your area. But you do need to be the person that really serves the customer with technology that provides solutions to their problems. Always serve. Always do everything you can to help your clients become successful. Do this and you will find that success will flow to you in abundance.
Business is all about people, not about money. You’ll know you have a great customer relationship when you make a mistake and instead of getting mad at you the customer consoles you and let’s you know that you didn’t do it on purpose and allows you to fix the mistake and move forward.
Lesson learned: Reframe your thinking and your business to focus on customer service as the core of why you do what you do. Serve the customer and take their success to heart. Treat their business as if it were your own. Focus on people and not on profits. Profits will naturally follow when you focus on people.
There you have it. Five things you can do to crash your business. Of course there are dozens more but if you stay away from these you will be well on your way to staying in business for years to come. More importantly, you will have a business that you enjoy, your customers will enjoy doing business with you and your competitors will wonder what in the world you’re doing that is blowing them out of the water.