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Thread: A small business conundrum

  1. #1
    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    A small business conundrum

    I'm sitting here trying to figure out how to put into words some of the things that have been going on, and some of the things I've been feeling over the last while, but I'm really struggling. I'm going to try...we'll see how it goes.

    I ended up with two projects starting at the same time, and one of the projects turned into a time eating monster for a couple of reasons. The effect of that has been that I've been under quite a lot of pressure to get stuff done, but constantly just been falling behind, and each day just trying to get handles on things and handle them as best I can.

    I can see the effects of this playing out in both my business and my personal life. In a lot of ways I'm tired and demotivated - things that I'm normally able to easily overcome.

    Outside of getting the actual work done, there are a couple of things that weigh on my mind a fair amount like, what happens when I'm done with this work (long term impact on cash flow)? How do I expand my capacity in a sane way? One of the things that I wonder is whether I'm learning the lessons that I'm paying school fees for at the moment.

    Part of it is perspective - it is difficult to have any when you are in the thick of it. Maybe it is a bit like being in the water with waves washing over you and just trying to make sure you get a breath in every now and again - you keep wondering if the next wave is going to be a tsunami, or maybe just the last one in the set.

    Part of it is fear - the question of whether I'll be going through this over and over again definitely surfaces regularly. I want better for myself than what I'm in at the moment, and the thought of getting stuck is rather unpleasant.

    At the moment the only option that I really see is to push through it and try to make sure I keep as many balls in the air as possible, and somehow keep moving forward.

    One of the frustrating things is that I've been getting new enquiries for work (yay!!!) but I've been struggling to handle those properly. Quotes are not a simple matter of pumping out a number, so I feel like I'm keeping people dangling, and probably just making them frustrated.

    I'm fully responsible for the situation I find myself in. At one point I decided that I just had to take some risks and push ahead with a few things - the attitude was, "Screw it, let's do it." I was forcing myself to push a bit beyond my comfort zone, forcing myself to go into situations that were not guaranteed success, risking my own ego.

    I have no idea, but I suspect that all of these things are probably experienced by most people starting up, particularly those starting as a one man business.

    Is it going to get better if I just push through this dip? Or rather, how do I make sure that things are going to get better in the long run?
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    Email problem RKS Computer Solutions's Avatar
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    Push through Duncan!!!

    On the quotation side I want to mention the following: Sit down, and as far as possible, put down numbers on the table for regular services and components used regularly... Find the medium for what you normally quote for, get a balance of what your pricing should be and use that as a guideline on quotations. I have a table worked for my costs/pricing that took me the better part of 3 days to put down on paper, having talked to my suppliers and factoring in 99.99% of the situations which I'm likely to cross at some stage or another.

    For those instances where you can't give definite pricing, let the customer know that you have to look into those specifics and will get back to them regarding those points. The fact that you have a guideline set for the regular services, takes the load off your shoulders to have that extra time in order to properly research what needs to be done and how much it would be worth...

    In those cases where you cannot find a pricing solution within a reasonable time, pull up a quotation for which you can quote for, send it to the customer with a note that further work required and needed to be done, will be quoted and verbally agreed on, before it gets added to the invoice...

    In this way you are communicating with your client, effectively giving them an idea of what it is going to cost them and having them trust you because you're not just bombdiving in head first and then feel sorry afterwards for having over quoted and feeling as if your ripping the client off, or worse under quoted and having to pay for your clients project...

    Hope it helps!

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    It really does sound like growing pains.

    The hard truth is that this is exactly why businesses that get past the first year with some measure of success still manage to fail quite spectacularly within the next 5. Your business can get killed by your own success. It depends on your activity, really. But the critical parts are probably cash flow issues and the ability to delegate activities.

    It is something of a glass ceiling. Master these two and the business continues to grow. Fail to master these and the business could well drown in it's own success if the growth is unplanned - or limp along in a weird twilight zone like many a small business that has been around for years.

    There's an optimal set-up for each stage of a business. And it's hard to stay optimised all the time. Stuff gets out of whack at times.

    Probably my best tip is - How clear is your vision of what the next stage looks like?

    For me - when it was a bit fuzzy, that's where things went wrong. When I had a crystal clear idea of that next stage (even though I wasn't that clear on how I was going to get there) things tended to work out.

    There are also times when the best thing to do is optimise and sit at a point - and build up resources for the charge to the next level.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Pleasure. What can I say - been there. And I'm damn sure I'm not unique in suffering these challenges.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Email problem RKS Computer Solutions's Avatar
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    Agreed, and that's why your comments, coming from an old hand, is so valuable...

    Any guests reading this, should join right now and take advantage of the knowledge base that is being built right here on various topics that could help you either in your own business or helping you understand business in South Africa!

  7. #7
    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
    It is something of a glass ceiling. Master these two and the business continues to grow. Fail to master these and the business could well drown in it's own success if the growth is unplanned - or limp along in a weird twilight zone like many a small business that has been around for years.
    This kind of sums up a lot of what I've been feeling. On the one hand I know that my ability to grow is what limits the business, but I also know that you need to actually learn stuff to grow. The glass ceiling is really a function of myself.

    Maybe one of the things that I'm lacking (and I've been pondering this the last few days) is exactly what you said - a clear vision of the next stage. It is a bit murky, although some days I feel like it is just beyond my grasp. I'm going to spend more time on that, make sure that I know exactly.

    Thanks for the support and encouragement, the great thing is that it does help me to gain some perspective, and I feel that that is the most valuable thing in this situation.
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    Silver Member Eugene's Avatar
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    Push through Ducan! I am now in the 9th year of my practice and I (very) often feel the same. I believe that it why they call it a "practice"... Your post made me sit down and reflect on my own business for a while and I share your concerns. The world out there has taught me that the key to success lies in the details. (Still trying to figure out exactly what that means ... LOL). Hang in there buddy!

    Consider your business venture as a game of golf. Start at the 1st T, then to the second and so forth until you reach the 18th hole. Quite often we are so distracted that we bugger around playing hole 3, then 12, then back to 5 and getting nowhere. Begin with your end goal in sight and work towards that.

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    Silver Member Eugene's Avatar
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    “I see myself as a champion of design. If you are just trying to be safe, you become everybody else.”
    Mike Parker, CEO, Nike

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    Platinum Member Chatmaster's Avatar
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    It is interesting to see how many of us actually share the same experiences in business. I wonder how many of us has gone through more or less the same emotions and issues in our business ventures. I just truly believe that you should try to get some peace and quite for a few hours so you can clear your mind, this seems to be a big deal to you at the moment and maybe you are to close to the issues at hand to get a take on the solutions.

    Duncan I take my hat of to you and wish you all the best with making your decisions. Just remember which ever way it goes it just makes life more interesting

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