These conversations can feel awkward because FACING REALITY and making a CHANGE isn't always easy. And sometimes the TRUTH is hard to hear - but these conversations address what is really going on - and they are essential to make you and the business the BEST it can be.
Remember the main restriction of any business in nearly all cases is the owners' abilities and thinking. So take a look and see if YOU need to have an awkward conversation.
"So do you actually know how much profit you are making?"
The first awkward conversation business owners can expect when I start working with them. You wouldn't think so, but many just don't know how they are going month to month. This is a crucial piece of information to know; after all you CAN'T win if you don't know the score. And it's way too late six months after the year-end when your accountant tells you the result. There is nothing you can do then. That game is over, you are playing the next one. You can only look to next year. Don't be scared of the outcome of asking this vital question, because when you know your figures, then you can improve.
"You aren't actually making any money."
Talk about an awkward realisation! Many business owners are working very hard for very little return. IT AIN'T RIGHT! If you discover that you are not actually making any money in your business then instead of freaking out, you just need to fix it fast. Ultimately when you lose money in your business, odds are it won't be long before you will need to start dipping into your own pocket or going into more debt, to pay the bills. And if you are consistently losing money, you will not be in business for very long. For a business to survive it must make profit, so if you are not, find out WHY and make a new plan.
"If you don't sort out your cashflow, bad things will happen."
You have all heard the saying 'cash is king'. If you run out of cash you are in trouble. It won't take long before your suppliers or the bank say "enough". If your cashflow is continually stretched, this puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on you and the business. Get this one right and you halve the stress! Cashflow often gets left undealt with, but believe me, if you have issues in this area, you need to set some time aside to sort it out now (and it's not as difficult as you think).
"Are your staff really no good?"
Is it a case of "It's not you, it's me"? We all have employed staff that just did not make the grade, but this should be the exception not the norm. If you are consistently dealing with poor staff you are either picking the wrong ones or maybe it's you. I talked with a business owner once who said he "hated going to work", and told his staff this regularly - I bet with an attitude like that, his staff felt exactly the same way. Staff need leadership, reassurance and feedback good and bad. If you are not happy with your staff, then work on changing yourself and your approach first, then them. If you hate going to work - well, you are the boss, so change it.
"Are you a workaholic?"
I ask my clients how many hours they are working and if they think they can keep this up week after week, month after month, year after year. We all know many business owners consistently work 55+ hours a week. Remember friends, business is a marathon not a sprint. It's okay to work long hours for a while, but in the long term I can guarantee you that you will not be at your best and neither will your business. We are made to work AND rest. It's during the rest times where inspiration comes and we often have those 'a-ha' breakthroughs. You will achieve a lot more if you rest regularly. Remember your best asset is yourself. After all, if you get sick, how much work happens? Usually not much.
"Your family is missing out - and you know it."
This really is awkward to address but if your family starts falling apart, guess what you are going to be doing? It's not going to be working more - a family crisis puts a stop to that real quick. Not meaning to be negative but bad stuff happens sooner or later to all of us, but spending time with your family will build a solid foundation to deal with it and minimize the downside (and hey, it's a lot more fun). If you are not married/shacked up, or do not have children, the principle remains - you still need to invest in those important relationships in your life. After all, owning a business should give you a better lifestyle than being someone's employee. If it's not, then something needs to change, RIGHT NOW!
"Is your business causing stress in your marriage?"
Very common scenario, especially if your partner is involved in the business in some capacity. If the business is not going well, then despite your best efforts, you will be bringing these stresses home with you, and it will affect the people you love. If you don't believe me, ask your partner. My bet is that you will be arguing about the same business problems over and over again - maybe it's time to face them and do something about it. Don't let work problems steal your profits, happiness, or your life.
"You are getting distracted."
This is trap that we all fall into at times. If you are not making the business better in some way, every day or at least weekly, then you are not working ON your business, you are working IN it. Stop doing the small tasks, delegate them and start working on the important ones. And remember delegate, delegate, delegate everything you can.
How did you do? Are some of these relevant to you? Some of these questions may make you feel frustrated - that's good - it means it's time to do something about it. If you do, the rewards can be amazing. So dare to peek behind the curtain and tackle the issues head on.
Action Point: Spend a few minutes now writing down the top three awkward conversations you need to have and then make two action points for addressing each one. Commit to take this action - then as Nike says "JUST DO IT"!