To Control or Not Control: A Guide for Small Businesses - Alliance to Save the American Dream

To Control or Not Control: A Guide for Small Businesses

October 6, 2023 - Emeka Anammah

Running a small business can be a thrilling yet challenging endeavor. You’re constantly juggling multiple tasks, managing resources, and adapting to an ever-changing market landscape. While you may have grand aspirations and an unbreakable entrepreneurial spirit toward your small business, it’s crucial to understand that not everything is within your control. By recognizing what you can and cannot control, you can make more informed decisions, allocate your resources wisely, and ultimately increase your chances of success.

Let’s begin with what you can directly influence –

1. Business Strategy: One of the most significant aspects of your business that you can control is your strategy. You can determine your target market, pricing strategy, product offerings, and how you position your brand. Your strategy is your roadmap for success, and it’s entirely within your grasp. This involves your yearly and quarterly planning and directions you intend to take and make actionable plans for.

2. Customer Experience: Small businesses can excel in providing exceptional customer experiences. What is compromised in business size can be made up in intimacy with the consumer. You can control how you interact with your customers, the quality of your products or services, and how you resolve customer issues. Building strong customer relationships can set you apart from larger competitors. You can choose how much to invest in this, and whether or not you will cut corners.

3. Employee Engagement: Your employees are a vital part of your business. While you can’t control their personal lives or attitudes, you can create a positive work environment, offer training and development opportunities, and communicate effectively. Engaged employees are more likely to contribute to your business’s success. Before you hide your wallet, this does not necessarily mean expensive company retreats. The little structural systems such as an open-door policy, lunch times together, and more, can go a long way.

4. Operational Efficiency: You have control over your business’s day-to-day operations. Implementing efficient processes, managing inventory, and monitoring expenses can help you maximize profits and minimize waste.

5. Financial Management: Small businesses can control their financial decisions, including budgeting, cash flow management, and investment choices. Keeping a tight grip on your finances is essential for long-term sustainability. Many businesses have bled out financially simply because of a lack of structure in the management of their resources and their allocation. It is completely within your control as a business owner to keep close tabs on where the money goes, which could save you thousands annually. 

6. Marketing and Promotion: Your marketing efforts, from social media campaigns to traditional advertising, are under your control. You can tailor your messaging to reach your target audience and adjust your marketing strategies based on performance data. Most marketing is effective due to adequate research on your consumer, consistency, and frequency of your message. Even with a modest budget, the thought behind every post and promotion is within the influence of you and your team. You can get more effective marketing tips at STRIVE3 

Honing in on the above factors will allow you to allocate not just resources, but focus in the best places possible, without much waste. Now let’s take a look at what small businesses cannot control: 

1. Economic Conditions: The broader economic landscape, including inflation rates, interest rates, and overall market trends, is beyond your control. These are decisions made by governing parties with which you are not directly involved. However, following these changes, you can adapt your business strategy to navigate economic uncertainties.

2. Competitor Actions: You cannot control what your competitors do. They may launch new products, change their pricing, or employ aggressive marketing tactics. What you can control is how you respond and adapt to these competitive challenges to not only remain competitive but meet the consumers’ needs in a way that is distinguishable from the rest.

3. Government Regulations: Government policies and regulations can affect your business, especially in areas like taxes, licensing, and industry-specific compliance. While you can’t control these regulations, you can stay informed and adjust your business practices accordingly.

4. Natural Disasters and External Events: It is obvious that events like natural disasters, pandemics, or political upheavals are entirely beyond your scope of action. Sometimes the effects of these can be devastating. What you can do, however, is develop contingency plans to minimize their impact on your business and ensure continuity.

5. Consumer Behavior: The choices consumers make are influenced by a myriad of factors, many of which you can’t control. While you can shape your marketing strategies to appeal to consumer preferences, you can’t force customers to buy your products or services. Instead of trying to manipulate the occurrence of a specific outcome, Be willing to be malleable in your approach to engaging and serving consumers.

Understanding this distinction between what you can and cannot control is crucial for the success of your small business. It can be the difference between liquidation and being the next Amazon. Here’s why it matters:

1. Efficiency: By concentrating your efforts on areas you can control, you allocate your resources more efficiently. This leads to better decision-making and more significant returns on investment, rather than plugging resources into initiatives that do not depend on your actions to begin with.

2. Resilience: Recognizing external factors you cannot control allows you to prepare for potential challenges and build resilience and backup plans for your business operations.

3. Adaptability: Focusing on what you can control promotes adaptability. When circumstances change, you can adjust your strategies and tactics accordingly, without getting discouraged by factors outside your control. These are the businesses that stay in operation longer than those that are unwilling to be creative in their responses to external factors. 

4. Innovation: Concentrating on internal factors encourages innovation. You are thinking in terms of new ways to do things within your sphere of influence, or what can be improved on that currently exists. One cannot innovate on what one has no control over, so focusing internally can bring about unforeseen ideas previously hidden when the focus is only responding to circumstances around the business. Small businesses that innovate in their products, services, and processes often find new ways to thrive, even in competitive markets.

As you know, running a small business can be both exciting and demanding. To achieve long-term success, it’s vital to distinguish between what you can and cannot control. By focusing your efforts on areas within your control, such as your business strategy, customer experience, and operational efficiency, you can make better decisions, weather external challenges, and ultimately increase your chances of thriving in a competitive market. Remember, success often comes from mastering what you can control and adapting to what you cannot.

We hope this was helpful! You can access more at STRIVE3, and implement the business strategies on there to create unforeseen growth!

The Alliance to Save the American Dream is a non-profit organization dedicated to three core goals.

1. Develop an Ideas Factory to give small businesses and industries a centralized place to share innovative ideas that must be considered.

2. Build a unique Resources portal for small businesses to go to for answers or resources that address a wide range of issues or challenges.

3. Offer a new networking opportunity for small business owners to connect while also giving them a platform to share their own personal stories. For more information, visit savetheamericandream.


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