I always enjoy working with new business owners. They have a keen eye toward profits and a clear picture of where they want their business to go. It is that fresh attitude and vitality that I thrive on and keeps me going. I love the look of pure energy that they show. It is what makes other people around them encourage them and also to be a little jealous of the path the owner is on. Every book on leadership, entrepreneurship, and self improvement talks about that spark of life that the person who breaks away and runs toward the freedom of owning a business. It is also what doesn’t last…at least not long enough.
There is a reason that a store sees huge boosts in sales and customer counts when a new owner takes over. There is a reason that word of mouth marketing buzzes with the talk of a change to an old establishment and how much better it feels. It is because of that spark. And sparks flame out. How do you keep that spark alive?
At Business Bulldog we live a business philosophy of “Small Wins”.
A small win is when you can easily see a change for the better and nobody had to move too far from where they were. Small wins change things gradually and are sustainable. I have been in business consulting for far more years than I care to mention here and I can tell you that the guy who buys a business and turns it around fast can’t keep it that way for long. Small changes every day make people notice a something is different (like when there is a new owner), but it is easy to keep going and build on.
Big changes are exhausting and cause chaos.
There are people reading this who can point to a store that they bought, gutted the place and the personnel, and made a million dollars. Good for you. I bet you can’t do it again. There is a reason why gutting and burning the old way a business was run is a bad idea and it falls on the reason you bought the business in the first place.
If the business was so wonderfully great that you were willing to put good money down to buy it, then why did you think that making big changes would be a good idea? If was run so poorly that you had to break out the blow torch and start making charcoal, why didn’t you just lease a space down the street and put them out of their misery? It was because there was a brand worth saving.
If you want to be the grand savior, you have to start by realizing that the reason you wanted to buy the place is the same reason customers spend money there. Move too far away from that and you will fail. I watch major companies struggle with leaders who want to make their mark when they take over and they run off customers and great staff. how many companies can you name that had a change of leadership and when down in flames? Far too many.
No one likes change.
Small wins make huge differences. I can tell you first hand that I have been the guy to shake things up as well as the guy who walks quietly into the room. I have been stabbed and shot at for being the guy trying to make quick changes. I like being the guy with the smile and the even temper. I think it added ten years to my life to be the quiet guy with a simple plan. People aren’t trying to kill me now. Man, I wish I had learned that lesson sooner.
So, how does a new owner make small wins? Find the reason that the business works in the first place and build on that. I can tell you that there are really bad things going on at any business. It is human nature for some employees to try to get away with whatever they can. Even if it costs the business and their job. I have no idea why they do it, but I can tell you there is someone working against you right now. If you start to minimize the time that person has to do bad things, they will either work somewhere else because they can find the time to be bad or they will change with you. Most people want to be recognized for being good. So, recognize what is good about your new business.
Even if you have been the owner of your business for decades and want to see that new success, you can. Find a way to have a small win and celebrate it. I mean REALLY CELEBRATE IT! Don’t go half way and expect your team to be hungry to show you more wins. They will just think you have lost your mind and walk backwards away from you smiling and saying something reassuring until the reach the door. Go BIG!
You can have rotten sales (it is one of the worst economic times in history) and still find a win. It can be as simple as a customer compliment.
Find the customer who gave you good feedback and honor them. Then, find the employee and make them king for the week. There is no end to the new path that you can walk down if you are willing to celebrate small successes.
Tell me about your success and I will celebrate your business on this blog!!! We have readers from 44 countries and I am sure you could use the free press. Tell me about your small wins.
Bob Griffin – CEO Business Bulldog