Steve’s answer: 1) Stop and 2) ‘start with why’!
I just thought I would reach out. I am really struggling. Every effort I make to turn things around gets met with all kinds of challenges. I can’t even trust people anymore. My employees have just been a nightmare. At times last year I didn’t even know if I could stay in business. I work till I am just completely exhausted and I can‘t seem to even cover my bills. I am getting further and further in debt and feel like I am not going anywhere. I seriously don’t know what to do. I love this industry but I am burning out fast. Any thoughts, Steve?
Struggling in Spokane
WOW, Struggling! Your email really has resonated with me! I’m so very sorry you have arrived at this place in your life! I’m going to respond to pieces of your email and see if I can give you both hope AND some resources to turn things around for you. I’ve quoted your original comments::
“Hey Steve, I just thought I would reach out. I am really struggling. Every effort I make to turn things around gets met with all kinds of challenges. I can’t even trust people anymore. My employees have just been a nightmare. At times last year I didn’t even know if I could stay in business.”
I’m sorry, Struggling. If it helps any ‘don’t feel like the Lone Ranger’! Why not? Because you are NOT alone! I get pleas like this from cleaning and restoration contractors every week! It isn’t easy building a Critical Mass Business that will run without you! (This is why so many people in our industry are ‘chained to the wand’ which is a dangerous place to spend your life!)
NOTE: Remember that everyone (including you) needs to find their very own Sweet Spot in life. As in what is the business model (and life) where you (and your family) look forward to each day?
“I work till I am just completely exhausted and I can‘t seem to even cover my bills. I am getting further and further in debt and feel like I am not going anywhere.”
So to channel Bill Yeadon (and his fascination with Simon Sinek!), Struggling, let’s ‘start with why’ and also use the principle of ‘divide and conquer’ with your paragraph above! For example…
“I work till I am just completely exhausted…”
WHY? Are you taking on every job that comes in… even if you don’t have the time, energy or labor force to do it? Should you start pruning out the bottom feeding customers and/or services where you are basically ‘trading dollars’? Have you analyzed each service you provide? (Chuck Violand shares formulas and spreadsheets on how to do this in our SFS: Business Transformation.)
“…and I can‘t seem to even cover my bills.”
WHY NOT? Once again, Struggling, are you charging ‘enough’? As I tell every SFS class “Assuming you are giving Value Added Service (and I assume you do!) your customers WILL ‘pay more’! BUT they aren’t going to just jump up and offer to give you more money unless you ask them to do so by RAISING YOUR PRICES!” (Sorry to shout!) Remember…
There are only four ways to make more net profit: 1) raise your prices, 2) lower your costs, 3) get more efficient and then assuming you’ve done one or more of these then 4) get more business! Even better, do all four of these things and you WILL retire wealthy from this industry!
NOTE: Please don’t live in fear of raising prices, Struggling. As I recently shared HERE the vast majority of your residential customers won’t even notice it! The secret sauce? Just bump your prices just a bit at least once a year!
“I am getting further and further in debt…”
WHY? This is a delicate area, Struggling, and totally your call. But if a business owner is going to reinvent his or her business sacrifices may need to be made! This usually INCLUDES lowering their ‘personal overhead’. (What I call ‘discretionary expenses’!) Of course, I could be totally wrong here- maybe you are already living the life of an ascetic monk! But overall I call us the ‘Entitled Generation’! Constant restaurant meals, credit card debt, new cars, ‘life in the fast lane’ all can sap an already struggling business! Somewhere along the way the concept of ‘frugality’ has gotten lost in our society!
“…and feel like I am not going anywhere.”
I don’t need to ask “WHY” here, Struggling! I get it! However, stop and take stock. Even with your current challenges (OK, problems!) you have A) built a business, B) stayed in business and C (I’m sure) built a great reputation plus D) provided well for your family! Do NOT minimize what you have already accomplished in your life. Let’s see if we can sum things up below!
“I seriously don’t know what to do. I love this industry but I am burning out fast.”
So… what to do? Some thoughts:
1) Stop. Take some time to meditate. (I’m assuming that you long term emotionally and financially cannot continue with the business as it is!)
2) Consider whether you should ‘scale back’? There is no sin in this. Early in my career when I grew too fast (without the correct Business Infrastructure in place) I ‘got small again’ and it saved my life! NOTE: Are you currently on the ‘Road In-Between’ where you are ‘too big but too small’? NOTE: Download my free ‘Avoiding the Road In-Between’ manual HERE!
3) Analyze where is your best ROI. Do this both with A) the services you offer and B) your personal time. Then set up your priorities based on what is most urgent. (It isn’t a bad idea to start out with a few simple tweaks to give you some ‘small wins’ in the beginning!)
4) Get help and support! Talk with your family, friends, your Jon-Don rep and of course, reach out to others ‘down in the trenches’ in our Strategies for Success: ‘Growing Your Business’ Facebook Group. People really do care and so do I!
One last thought I don’t want to gloss over, Struggling. You mentioned at the start of your email: “My employees have just been a nightmare.” Remember that toxic people can suck the joy (along with a huge amount of energy) right out of your life! Get rid of the losers in your company and then (slowly) start recruiting the Very Best People. (They ARE out there!)
Struggling, I hope some of my ramblings will prove useful. I wanted to give your concerns some thought and so have been pecking away over the last few days.
Stay in touch and LET ME KNOW HOW YOU ARE DOING!