Man stuck leaning in a doorway.

Are you stuck?

It is natural to feel that you aren’t making any progress as a shop owner. A common theme with entrepreneurs everywhere is exhaustion, as you are giving every ounce of energy you have trying to keep the train on the tracks. Burn out. Mental fatigue. A sense of “why am I doing this?”

Common areas where shops get stuck are:

  • Sales – you never seem to get to the next level.
  • Costs – every single thing you need seems to be going up in price.
  • People – nobody seems to want to work.
  • Time – if you have 200 hours in a day, you still couldn’t get it all completed.
  • Profit – even if your top line sales are good, there never seems to be that fat payday that you are dreaming about.

It Starts With Confusion About Process

One of the biggest challenges businesses face is building, maintaining, and improving their processes.

A process is a systemized approach to doing something.

It doesn’t necessarily always point to production either. For example, do you have a Sales Process? What about a Receiving Process? An Innovation Process? Or an Art Development Process?

Chances are one of the reasons why you feel stuck is that there is not a clear indication of what you or your people should be doing next. Or even how to approach it.

It isn’t funny, but sometimes when a shop owner starts telling me a sad story about how their sales are down and they are having cash flow problems I immediately ask about their sales process.

“How many sales calls did you make yesterday?” I’ll ask.

“Uh, none.” they will say sheepishly.

“Do you have a business plan written that identifies your best, ideal customer, and do you know where to find them?” I’ll ask next.

“Not really. We have a business plan that we scribbled down a few years ago somewhere. There isn’t anything that is recent.”

“Every day, is somebody out there trying to bring in more work for the shop?”, I’ll ask finally.

“Uh, no. Not every day.”

Therefore, the lack of sales is more about the lack of effort and a clear process than the market not buying.

Process Is About Charting Out the “How We Do It”

Let’s say that you do feel that you are stuck with your current sales situation. That is a good example to discuss.

I want you to think this through. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do my results match the effort we have put in?
  2. Is there an obvious bottleneck that is preventing us from having success?
  3. Can we outline a sensible goal and what do we need to do to achieve that?
  4. Is it possible to define the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How questions for a process that will improve the situation?

Your business owner’s brain needs to be planning out your sales activities about six to eight weeks out at any given moment in time.

A common problem we have in this industry is that of a “feast or famine” cycle. Raise your hand if this is true for your shop.

You are extremely slow, then you get busy, followed by another period of inactivity. Rinse and repeat. All year. Every year.

This is a classic problem in this industry. Why? It’s usually the case that when you are busy that you “don’t have time for sales.”

When sales start to slow down, there is an increased activity to try to conjure up some more sales. But because there is a two to three-week sales cycle, the orders don’t come in fast enough.

Get Unstuck With “How We Do It”

There are a few things to think about here. For any process in your business, consider these things:

Time

Time could mean how long something should take, or what time you should be doing it. Or, it could mean the total amount of time you are dedicated to doing something.

When you think about a process that needs to be built or improved, how you focus on the notion of time could be a leading indicator for success.

Consider how time impacts the outcome of what’s not working.

Focus

Another instance where people or companies get stuck is how they focus on the end result. Do you have clarity on that?

What is supposed to happen?

If I asked five or six people in your company about the problem and reason it exists would they all give me the same answer?

Where is your team getting confused? If you don’t want to be stuck, try illustrating what unstuck looks like in your process.

Begin

How come you don’t have better results? Chances are the reason why you are stuck in that you never started. Action is what you need.

Millions of people have a gym membership but never go.

Is that the case with your situation? Do you have a great intentions and plan for something, but simply haven’t actually gotten around to maybe almost starting?

What is holding you back?

For a lot of people is the fear of failure. I’ve got news for you, we all fail. Failure is part of growth. If you are not failing, you are not learning.

Begin. It will work out, believe me. Even if you make a mistake. That’s not failure, that’s data.

Overwhelmed

Many folks can’t do what they need to do because it simply seems impossible from where they are standing now.

Feeling overwhelmed is natural if you are thinking 5,943 steps ahead.

That is a long journey. Whew! I’m exhausted just thinking about it and I don’t even know what you want to do. 5,943 steps seems impossible!

Instead, don’t worry about completing those 5,943 steps. Just work on step one. By the way, see the section right above this one.

Good News!

I’ve got some good news to share with you that you probably already know. But, you’ve forgotten it or bypassed it somehow.

Everyone has the power to begin. You have the power to change and improve.

All of your experiences, successes, and even failures, have lead you to where you are now on your journey. We all feel stuck at some point. After all, we’re humans, not robots.

Brush yourself off, get up, and get busy.

You can do it!

…and hey, if you need some help that’s what I’m here for.


“Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck.” – George Carlin

“Diamonds are nothing more than coal that stuck to their job.” – Malcolm Forbes

“Any action is better than no action, especially if you have been stuck in an unhappy situation for a long time. If it is a mistake, at least you learn something, in which case it is no longer a mistake. If you remain stuck, you learn nothing.” – Eckhard Tolle


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Marshall

Marshall Atkinson also shares exclusive blog content at Supacolor.com. Supacolor makes The World’s Best Heat Transfer and provides tips, inspiration, and other resources designed to empower professional garment printers.