Why SME owners shouldn’t use external factors as an excuse

Handwriting text writing No Excuses. Concept meaning should not happen or expressing disapproval that it has happened White pc keyboard with empty note paper above white background.

Managing the challenges associated with running a successful business requires owners to consider both internal and external factors that could affect the organisation. However, when a business is struggling, it’s very rarely solely as a result of external factors.

Usually, taking deliberate and intentional steps to improve internal processes and strategies can overcome challenging external circumstances. It can be tempting to blame external factors for business non-performance or use them as an excuse to avoid embarking on the activities that will lead to growth and increased value. However, it’s essential for business owners to focus on how they run their business and not let external factors be their excuse.

In most cases, business owners feel that they’re facing a tough environment when the truth is that they’re simply struggling to run a business. Rather than be concerned with external factors, these business owners should seek education and, if necessary, assistance with putting the right business foundations in place. When this happens, most business owners find that they can deal with relevant external factors effectively.

Business owners often start their business in response to an external impetus. For example, if an experienced person loses their job and struggles to find a new one, they may decide that starting their own business is a good way to gain an income and become their own boss.

The reality is, however, that running a business requires a specific set of skills. If the business owner’s skills are more aligned with the products or services the business providers, such as catering, landscaping, plumbing, or providing legal services, then they may struggle with the practical and strategic aspects of building a business. This means these owners should seek education and assistance to build up these skills, which will help position them for success.

Looking for employment isn’t a reason to not start a business but it doesn’t qualify a person to run a business. It’s important for business owners to learn about business fundamentals, develop a plan that puts the right elements in place for sustainable growth, and get to a point where they understand which external factors are relevant and how to deal with them, as well as which external factors to ignore.

It’s important to start by understanding where the business currently sits, including what strong elements are in place, where the gaps and challenges are, what opportunities are available, and what education and training the business owner requires to become a successful businessperson. From there, it becomes possible to develop the plans that will get the business on track for success. Owners should start with a long-term plan, which will let them build a 12-month plan, which will lead to a plan for the next 90 days.

The external factors that worry people are insignificant in the scheme of a business. It’s an unnecessary distraction to focus on or blame those factors. Instead, business owners need to look inward at the business itself and determine what improvements can be made to better position it for growth. Then, the business owner can start to build real value that will withstand any environmental factors over time.

Business owners who are unsure of how to proceed should contact a business coach who can help them work through these factors and set a realistic plan to set the business up for growth.

Andrew Laurie, CEO, entrepreneur and business coach and author of “Thirty Essentials: Strategy”