We small business owners can be a pretty delusional bunch: blaming others for our own lack of business planning, expecting suppliers to create our future, complaining about an injustice or wrong but not acting to remedy the situation, expecting suppliers to give us big business terms while failing to match the big business benefits.
Too often, how we see our small businesses is through eyes of our own spin and fiction. Too often, the truth about our situation is missing.
A newsagent I was talking with a newsagent recently complained about how poorly products from a supplier were performing. Sure enough, year on year sales were down. However, for more than half the period we looked at they were out of stock. The newsagent had failed the supplier. This is the truth in their own business data. On showing this to them they said I was on the side of the supplier. After a while they looked at the data and wondered why replacement stock had not been ordered. They did not have any process in place for ordering stock based on sales. Next, they blamed the rep – it was their view that the supplier should have sent a rep to keep the business replenished. But there was no arrangement or agreement with the supplier about a regular rep visit.
We are not victims we we in small business retail often play the victim card.
We have to embrace responsibility for our businesses. This means we need a current and relevant business plan. We need management and operational structures that ensure our business pursues the plan. In practical terms in the context of the story above: the newsagent should have been reordering based on sales, a team member should have been delegated to manage the product category. The business should never have been out of stock of something that was selling well. Had this been the case they could have achieved an additional $5,000 in revenue in three months.
Yes, a supplier rep visiting could have seen and addressed the lack of stock. However, reps are expensive and more suppliers are cutting their field force since this is a cost of business for them dealing with small business. It’s a cost that can make us an uncompetitive channel for suppliers. This is why we need to take a more professional approach to ordering stock.
There is truth in our own business data. Each of us needs to use this and based our business decisions on it. Relying on others is not a plan. Relying on our gut feel is not a plan.
Our future is up to us an the best guide to that future is in our business data.