Small businesses in the United States account for a little more than half of the nation’s private sector workforce. Yet far too few small business owners even consider hiring a third party to help them organize and manage their business outside of day-to-day operations. With more than fifty percent of small businesses failing every year, it is critical that Mom and Pop owners begin rethinking their attitudes toward business strategy consulting if they hope to survive.
Too many times smart and energetic people will start a business with only a vague idea of where they want the business to ultimately land. Carol Richards comes to mind. She began a coffee business that specialized in servicing a suburban area outside of a major West Coast metro. It seemed silly to most when she began the business because she did so at a time when Starbucks was opening a new store somewhere in the world every fifteen minutes.
But Meg was never daunted. As a single mother and a trained butcher, she had a dream! She wanted to retire early and travel for the rest of her life. And she was lucky! Meg found the niches that even the likes of the Starbucks’ marketing smarties hadn’t found. She invested her money and spirit into the entire process full throttle. Her business focused on filling the caffeinated gaps at concerts, sporting events and several large area hospitals.
For more than a decade she was successful enough to gross into the high six figure range every year. She spent her draw on a million dollar house, bought into vacation clubs and took exotic vacations every year with her family. After a dozen or so years, Meg was exhausted. Her goal starting out was to build up the business and sell it for a profit. Even though she had invested wisely in real estate, she never invested in a sound branding strategy. Her operational plan was non-existent and even after fifteen years she had no clue what her business was worth or what her annual revenue at any location was without researching it. Poor Meg!
When she tried to sell the business there were no takers. No offers came in even though the entire package included expensive equipment, real estate and an established central commissary setup. Carol couldn’t figure out what went wrong. Now in her mid-fifties, she was tired and physically depleted. In fact, she was working harder than ever just to keep the business running.
Hiring professional strategic or tactic planning help is only the first step. Even among those small businesses that take the first step and actually bring someone in, only a very small fraction will really step up to the plate and employ recommended process improvements. Again, many a small business owner overly identifies their own persona with their business. But in reality, business is (as they say) “business” and it must be run like a business or fail trying.
When selling coffee wasn’t enough she sold hamburgers. When people tired of hamburgers she sold hot dogs. And so on and so on. Her operational tactics were based on sheer survival and her lack of education, experience, branding and strategy left her vulnerable to unnecessary liabilities and a never ending stream of physical labor.
Even now Carol doesn’t see a need for business strategy consulting. She doesn’t want to spend money on anything that she feels isn’t necessary. Her original dream never came to fruition, yet she is convinced that through more hard work she will someday reach her goal. Like many small business owners, Carol Richards filled a market need but failed to fulfill her own desires simply because she didn’t understand the importance of building and sustaining a strategy with the help of a third party consultant.