The business owner’s number one enemy

I have had the pleasure of working with private business owners for much of my 40 plus years in the business ranks. Someone recently asked, “What is the single biggest issue you see as negatively affecting business owners”? Interesting question. I suspect the questioner expected something like “cash flow” “lack of sales” or “dealing with family in the business.” All good ones but not my thought. Business owner’s one number issue…


Not what you expected?

Business owners got into business because they were good at something. The something is normally the good or service they sell. In this very narrow range they are the expert and can answer virtually any question.

But then success sets in.

Suddenly they are dealing with things they have no training or experience in: like taxes, HR or funding. Now they are lost. But since they are the business owner, they feel they must solve the problem. Of course they have no training or experience in these areas….but nonetheless… is their problem to solve…they are the owner….they will figure it out!

A strange thing happens. Just when owners should be reaching out to others for help, they withdraw. Reasons for withdraw might include, pride, fear of looking dumb or insecurity. Regardless the reason, at the very time there is a genuine need for help, owners build walls around themselves, much like people do who are suffering depression. As the isolation grows, the walls get thicker. More often than not the true potential of the business is never met, employee relationships deteriorate and in extreme situations the business falters. All because the owner felt they had to go it alone.

So I ask a favor of you, the reader.

If you know of an owner or business who is sturggling, reach out and offer support. Be persistent. Urge them to seek help from professional organizations like mine who offer monthly business owner round tables and advisory groups, or others who are experts in the area they are struggling with. Invite them to a conversation OUTSIDE OF THE WORK PLACE. Then be prepared to listen. Experience tells us once the conversation starts, the dam let’s go. I once had an initial conversation with a client, then prospect, where he spoke continuiously for about 40 minutes. You could see the stress flowing out of his body. We have been working together for about 3 years and his business has blossomed. All because he finally opened the door and accepted help.