The Australian Small Business Blog

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Comparing Your Business With Others

As a small business owner you probably regularly meet with other business owners. (If you don’t, you need to get out more as that is where the opportunities are.) However when you do, are you finding that when you leave an event you end up feeling disenchanted? Everyone seems to be doing so much better than you?

Are you comparing everyone else’s fiction with your own reality?

Think of it this way, if someone’s business was actually not doing so well, and in fact their sales had dropped significantly, do you they would tell everyone they know? Of course not as it would potentially make things worse for them. People don’t want to do business with someone who they think may not be around for long, so the talk is always positive and it is quite likely that many of the people who say things are just fine, are in no better shape than you.

Armed with this information, you can carry on attending such events with a fixed grin hoping that something will turn up from someone who may be even worse off than you, making promises to you that they will not deliver on. You can waste a lot of time at such events hoping for a big opportunity. It can be like someone who can’t swim hoping to be rescued by a drowning man.

Alternatively you can take matters into your own hands. If the things that you are doing are not working, you need to change them. Start to experiment more.
If you don’t know what to do you need to seek some kind of advice.

The Advice Catch 22

When things are going well, people don’t tend to seek advice. They see it as a cost (time & money) and don’t believe they need it. When times are tough, they need it but can’t afford it. Catch 22.

The correct approach is to regularly have a range of different sources of advice, from reading books, attending workshops or coaching. In the good times, you need to be prepared for the tough times. In the tough times, the need for advice is even greater.

While cash might be scarce in the tough times, if the person was convinced that advice they got would work, they would, of course pay for it. So how do you know it will work for you?

Here are some questions to ask:

-Are there others you are aware of that are doing well in your sector?
-Do you believe there is something they might be doing that you are not doing at the moment?
-Do you believe that if you could learn what they are doing, that you could also be successful?

When learning to drive a car, you start off being unconsciously incompetent. You really don’t know how hard it can be. Once you start to drive, you soon learn you need lessons. At this point you are consciously incompetent. If you answered yes to the 3 questions above, this is you. You know there are answers out there, you just don’t know what they are.

At this point you can decide to remain unconsciously incompetent and learn by trial and error (smashing up your car in the process), or you can get advice. People think advice is expensive.

Abraham Lincoln said; “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

Advice is a catalyst to change, and if you change nothing, nothing changes.

What’s your Plan?

Dr Greg Chapman holds regular workshops for small business owners:

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club and is Australia's Leading Advisor on Emerging Businesses and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems. He is also the author of The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success.

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Dr. Greg Chapman is also the author of
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