Bonitamedia’s Weblog

Creating a lasting impression for small business

The Epiphany of a Small-Business Owner…

Being heavily involved in the local business community, I know many people that own small “businesses” like myself. I have been thinking about the many trials facing this group of people lately and wondering how these problems can be solved. Of course, being in the marketing/advertising business, my initial reaction is to advertise more! But in reality, the issue is more fundamental than that. Yes – Everyone needs more customers, and all marketing campaigns act like the town crier – spreading the good news about your business when you have a well thought out campaign, and spreading the virus of poor marketing when your campaign is fragmented, poorly executed or under-funded.

All of this aside, I was having a discussion with my board about our “business” when one of them brought to light “we have a great idea, but we don’t have a business – yet.” Then it hit me like a ton of bricks… I really don’t have a “business” per se, but really just a great idea. The fact that any organization needs marketing is nothing new, in fact, mobile outdoor advertising really isn’t new either. What is new with us is our delivery method and how we calculate our impressions, exposure, etc… BUT – what we don’t have is the repeatable, predictable systems, operations and clientelle that a real business has. Hmmm… got me thinking….

How many businesses out there operate like mine? How many really don’t have a true structure to how things operate? How many have never taken the time to create step-by-step procedures so anyone can come in and take the reigns if needed? How many business would fail if the leader were to have an accident or get sick? How many businesses, if sold, would fail because systems aren’t documented? How many are sold “on the cheap” because the systems are bad? That brings me to the epiphany… Like many “businesses” out there, I am not a business, but rather a group of ideas that has yet to be refined or sorted out. Is that a bad thing? Does that make what we are doing or what another business doing less valid? Absolutely not!

Now that I have come to this re-realization (I have read the E-Myth by Michael Gerber a number of times, so I should not have to be reminded to do this), I need to create the systems, document them at an easy reading level (5th grade should do it) and most importantly, FOLLOW THEM! What does that do for me, or any other small business owner? Creates the ability to escape from time-to-time! If you are anything like me, vacations are filled with “Can’t you put the phone down for 5 minutes?!” or “Can’t the office survive without you?”. Not much of a break when you have to work while away AND your family time suffers because you can’t really break away. Stress levels go up. Productivity goes down. Work that can be done in 8-10 hour days take 10-12 hours/ day, 7 days/week. Kinda makes you reconsider the “business owner” moniker 🙂

There is hope for many of us though. It’s called a real Operations Manual, real Systems, real Procedures. And best of all, it’s not that hard! There’s an old adage a buddy of mine told me about working with wood – “measure twice, cut once.” Measure twice, cut once will save you time and money, as well as give you predictable results each and every time, with a higher quality product. Measure twice, cut once is what every business owner needs to apply to their operating manual. Whatever the task, do it right, write it down, repeat as necessary. Your product (which in this case is NOT what you sell, but rather your actual business) will become more predictable, easier to run, more profitable, more fun…

Remember, it only takes a few minutes more to do something right the first time. Make the choice to develop your business as a business, not as an idea. You’ll be amazed at the freedom you find!

Coming in a few days, tips on hiring absolutely the best sales people, with all the energy and desire you want them to have, WITHOUT any of the complaining you expect from a superstar-premadonna sales genius!


November 30, 2008 - Posted by | Business tips, Marketing in SWFL, SWFL Hodge Podge | , , , , , ,


  1. I really love the E-Myth! It describes the trap we all fall into…not creating systems around us that will allow us to breathe. We have to build a business that has a structure…and we have to outsource work to contractors and virtual assistants in order to keep our selves sane…

    Comment by JeanAnnVK | December 2, 2008

  2. This is truly the predictable trap many independent business-owners fall into. After years of working in traditionally structured offices, we break way on our own and almost rebel against utilizing such structures in our own business. We justify it by saying we are too small to need procedures and structures. Reality is quite the opposite.

    As a Virtual Assistant with more than 30 years experience in the legal field, I too fell prey to this logic originally. I’ve been a VA for nearly 10 years. I researched digital transcription and trained my clients in its use long before most folks even knew what it was. Because of my medical and legal background, I worked on a number of large multi-state class action lawsuits for several years. I as swamped with work and it was easy to put off developing a structure.

    Finally work slowed down. I started supporting a solo practitioner attorney and took on other clients in a variety of professional areas. The issue I faced with them repeatedly was that they all lacked structure and procedures. It’s nearly impossible to get the help you need if you do not have at least basic procedures to follow.

    The first thing I had to do with each of them was help them develop procedures and learn to follow them. Difficult as it was to get my clients to tow the line, it became apparent I was also lacking in these areas. In order to continue growing my business in a fashion that provided my clients with the best possible service, I too had to institute procedures and structures in my own business.

    Find yourself a good Virtual Assistant — someone experienced who requires minimal instruction. Do your research — know what you want a VA to do for you. Find a VA with whom you feel comfortable, someone who communicates well and has a history of doing the types of thing you need assistance with. Try a couple of trial projects. If the two of you click, continue using this same VA so that you develop a good working relationship. By working with the same person consistently, you become a team. The result is a better work product and a better work experience.

    Good luck to all of you. Let me know if I can be of assistance.

    Comment by Karalyn Eckerle | December 4, 2008

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