Small business owners, listen up. Monday, February 2 is Groundhog Day, and I’m declaring it a day for entrepreneurs and small business owners to shake things up. It’s time to cut out the things you do repeatedly that get you nowhere.
Groundhog Day isn’t a particularly important holiday, but the term “groundhog day” has become part of everyday lingo thanks to a popular 1993 movie of the same name. The term “Groundhog Day” has come to mean an unpleasant situation that repeats over and over again.
In the film, Phil Connors – a self-obsessed TV anchor (played by Bill Murray)—ends up in a time loop, living the same day over and over again. Each day, he wakes up only to find that he experiences basically the same thing as every day before.
Sound familiar? In your small business, are you another Phil Connors—trapped doing the same thing day after day, but not really making any progress? Do you find yourself repeating experiences time and again—with customers, with employees, with vendors—and things never getting much better?
Well, it’s time to stop!
First, a bit of background. Groundhog Day is the mid-winter day when a groundhog is supposed to crawl out of its burrow. If he sees his shadow, there’s supposed to be six more weeks of winter. No shadow? Spring is near. (In fact, groundhogs aren’t particularly adept at weather forecasting. The “groundhog has shown no talent for predicting the coming of Spring,” according to the National Climatic Data Center.) The most famous Groundhog Day observance is in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
Like the groundhog, it’s time for you to come out of that hole you’re in and see the light. You’ve got to wake up, look around, and get moving.
Now, I may have stretched the analogy of this holiday about as far as it can go, but many small business are in a rut, if not a hole. They think they can do the same thing they’ve always done but, somehow, get different results.
If you want things to change, you need to change first.
What are some things that I bet you’re doing over and over again that are holding you back?
Spending all your time on details
If you’re spending every day mired in day-to-day tasks, you’re not taking the time to think strategically about your business. You need to step back and analyze what’s working and what needs changing.
Doing everything yourself
Most small business owners are reluctant or afraid to hire the help they need to move their business forward. Employees and contractors are investments in growth, and you have to evaluate them as such, not just as a business cost.
Hiring the wrong type of people
Do you keep hiring the same type of person, with the same kind of background? That feels safe, but it may make your company stagnant. Spread a wider net to find people with different talents. Hire people who are smarter than you. Pay enough to get high-quality help.
Failing to market sufficiently
If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you’re focused on creating a great product or service. Marketing is an after-thought. But you can’t make sales if prospects don’t know about you. Make marketing a central part of everything you plan and everything you do.
Jumping on every opportunity
One of the biggest problems small business owners face is a lack of focus. It’s easy to get distracted—whether by your own good ideas or by opportunities—but these can keep you moving in too many directions.
Trying to serve everyone
Instead of targeting a niche, you’re so afraid of losing any customers, you try to be all things to all people. But the most effective way for smaller companies to compete is to focus in on a market segment and specialize.
What helped Phil Connors finally break his time loop? (Warning—spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the movie.) Connors realized that he had to dedicate himself to improving—both himself (through art and music) and the larger community (by helping others).
So take a page from Groundhog Day, and stop doing the same thing over and over, and start improving yourself and your small business. It’s time to crawl out from that hole you’re in.
Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2015
This article originally ran in USA Today on January 30, 2015