SCORE

It’s been said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Unfortunately, too many small business owners are stuck in this trap. Here are some warning signs your business may be in a rut—and ideas for how to change things up.

You try to do everything yourself.

You’re answering the phones, balancing the books, working the front desk and overseeing your marketing. Not only are you exhausted all the time, but opportunities are falling through the cracks because you're too busy to take advantage of them.

Change it up: In order for your business to grow, you have to let some things go. Figure out what daily activities bring the least value to your business, and find a way to delegate them—whether by bringing in a part-time employee or outsourcing to a virtual assistant. Then figure out what daily activities best use your particular skills, and focus on those.

You aren't getting good results from your marketing efforts.

But instead of trying something different, you pour more money into the same channels. Or perhaps you aren't even measuring the results of your marketing.

Change it up: Set measurable goals for your marketing and track the results on a quarterly basis. Which methods are getting the best results, and which are falling short? Adjust your marketing efforts as needed to spend more on what's working and less on what isn't.

You're still balancing your books with pen and paper.

OK, maybe you've upgraded to an Excel spreadsheet. The point is, you're using old-fashioned methods.

Change it up: There are so many simple accounting tools for small businesses that there's no excuse for not using one. Whether you download accounting software or subscribe to it in the cloud, digitizing your books has myriad benefits. You'll be able to integrate your accounting software with your business bank accounts so that everything updates in real time, easily share information with your accountant and quickly generate reports to help you plan for the future of your business.

You never get out of your office. 

It's easy for your business to become your comfort zone—but it can also harm you in the long run.

Change it up: Make the effort to get involved in business networking—not just social networking online, although that's great, but in-person networking in the real world. Participate in local chambers of commerce, industry organizations and business networking groups. Don't just show up and sit in the back row—volunteer to take a leading role. You'll meet more people this way and build more connections.

You're a technophobe.

Technology is changing so fast that almost every small business owner will feel technologically challenged at some point. But giving in to your fear of technology will put your business at a huge disadvantage.

Change it up: Get expert help to learn how to take advantage of all the features of the technology you’re currently using in your business. That may mean taking a class, visiting a store or hiring an IT consultant. Don't be embarrassed to admit what you don't know: That's the only way you learn anything new.

You don't see the forest for the trees.

There are so many things to deal with daily when you own your business that it's easy to get lost in the weeds.

Change it up: Take time at least once a week to pull back and look at the big picture of how your business is progressing. Assess your business’s strengths and weaknesses, along with those of your competitors. Keep up with your industries news and trends so you can stay one step ahead of the pack. Yes, it may be hard to take time away from the day-to-day, but if you don't do so, your business will never grow beyond small potatoes.

Enlisting an expert to help you is a great way to break out of a rut, get new ideas and start doing things differently. Visit www.score.org to get matched with one of SCORE’s expert mentors today.

About the Author(s)

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship and SmallBizDaily.com.

CEO, GrowBiz Media
Is Your Business in a Rut?