Plain and Simple. It’s Hard to Be in Business or a Business Owner (Inspiring Women, Episode 40)
On this episode of Inspiring Women, Betty Collins discusses issues which are making business ownership particularly challenging today, and some of her recommendations for avoiding fear and paralysis. Inspiring Women is presented by Brady Ware & Company.
Betty’s Show Notes
We’re in a new year again, and we just need it to be easier, right?
Many business owners have felt that they can’t move forward because they’re paralyzed. When you’re paralyzed, it means you can’t move. But if you’re a business owner or in business, you aren’t meant to be still, you aren’t meant to be not able to move. So you live in that fear.
But we can’t do that. We have to get to what’s driving the fear.
I’ve put it into a few categories in this episode. I’m sure that there are other things that you could add to it, but you really need to address these things.
This is THE podcast that advances women toward economic, social and political achievement. Hosted by Betty Collins, CPA, and Director at Brady Ware and Company. Betty also serves as the Committee Chair for Empowering Women, and Director of the Brady Ware Women Initiative. Each episode is presented by Brady Ware and Company, committed to empowering women to go their distance in the workplace and at home.
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Betty Collins: [00:00:01] Has anyone ever inspired you to change your life that made you more fulfilled? Well, as a leader in your business and in your community, what are those questions that you ask yourself on a daily basis? It’s these questions that we explore on inspiring women. I am your host, Betty Collins, and I’m a certified public accountant, a business owner and a community leader who partners with others who want to achieve remarkable results for themselves and their organizations. I am here to help inspire you to a positive step forward for a better life. You know, plain and simple, it’s just hard to be in business or be a business owner in today’s environment. I mean, you know, 20, 20, let’s look back. That was a whole new world we had to totally deal with. And then twenty one was all about, we’re going to recover and we’re going to have normal. And now we’re in a new year again, and we just need it to be easier, right? Not easy, easier. And part of the reason I think that people get wrapped up in. How can this be easier, but they can’t move forward because they’re paralyzed? I mean, when you’re paralyzed, it means you can’t move. But if you’re a business owner or in business, you you are meant to be still you aren’t meant to be not able to move. So we live in that fear in general, but certainly has been as business owners in the marketplace.
Betty Collins: [00:01:33] We can’t do that. So we have to get to what’s driving the fear. I mean, what’s driving the fear? And I’ve kind of put it into a few categories, but I’m sure that there’s other things that you could add to it, but you really need to address those things. So as as you’re listening, I would be writing down what is driving the fear that’s paralyzing me. Well, I think overall leadership at our local, state and federal level, you know, in the country, I think in our companies, the politics of it all, there’s a lot of fear with that. The workforce is definitely something that is going to take some time after what we’ve been through to get back to the levels that we would like, so that’s a huge issue for people. And if you don’t have workforce, you can’t have the supply chain back. So that’s another thing that we’re a lot of fear about now. If you’re like me, I’m a professional services person. I don’t have a big problem with the supply chain. It doesn’t affect me much. But for a lot of people, it’s very real. I mean, we haven’t seen inflation like this in a long time. It makes people a little nervous, makes them a little afraid. And then I think, you know, for many people, the effects of that 20 20 year in that year, a lot of money in cash were thrown at business owners.
Betty Collins: [00:02:56] And that’s not the norm. We don’t get cash thrown at us because we had to kind of change our mindset in twenty one and now that we’re we’re heading into new years and a new time period. It’s now about us earning money again. It’s about our bottom lines. And because we don’t have a bunch of cash being thrown at us or that we can apply for or get for free. We’re back to that. Hey, we got to get a fair how to sell services and we got to figure out how to provide products so that we can actually earn money again. And I think one of the fears is people, you know, they’re tired. You hear that a lot. Well, OK, so how do we respond to fear? First, we got to do what I just did. You’ve got to identify them. I’m identifying the things that I see all the time with business owners. They just these are the things they talk about over and over, sometimes with fear that we retreat. We kind of suppress. We ignore it. We live in denial. I’m guilty of all those things. We get very sidetracked. Today is nothing. But all of a sudden you’re sidetracked over here and you’re consumed in this and a tweet came across and another notification and you can’t. And then subject matters at all gets you sidetracked. We focus on the negative when we when we’re in fear and remember again, when I said, we’re in fear, we’re paralyzed, we can’t move.
Betty Collins: [00:04:10] The other thing that we think about when we’re in these frame of minds is, Oh, no one else is experiencing what I’m experiencing, not true. And we’ll talk about that. And then we’re kind of holding our assets close. I mean, you’re holding them to you close. And what do you do when you hold something close? It’s not going to grow, it’s not going to go out there. It’s not going to make into something because you’re hovering, you’re holding it. So those are things that we do when we when we have fear. I always ask this question. So now what? Ok, you’ve talked about the fears you know of. I’ve written down some fears. We’ve talked about how we respond to them. So now what? What do I do? Well, if you’re this is a business session, this is about being a business owner. The marketplace is your answer. The marketplace working is your answer and you have a role to play in that as a business owner and a leader. That’s the key. So go back and start with your why and get it figured out. I mean, for me, I keep that focus. I keep that in my forefront. I had someone help me go through Simon Smith’s University of Why. And it came up with when, when the U.S. works, the world works, and I took it a step further and instead when employers, which means they have employees, are taken care of.
Betty Collins: [00:05:26] Those are people that are getting provisions and those are households that form our communities. So in times where I have to look and go, OK, I got to focus on what’s important. I pull out that why I have it in front of me, I go back to that. The other thing when I say now what? Well, control what you can and influence what you’re not controlling to get it to where you need it to be. And of course, you have to look at, you know what? Change is not an option. We all changed in twenty twenty. I hate the word pivot, but we used it a lot. But we had no choice and we really didn’t have those choices in twenty one. And as we go into new times, we’re still not having that choice. And then you have to deal with what keeps you up at night. That’s the hardest thing. If you want more sleep and not wake up at two o’clock, everyone has that conversation. You already know what it is, right? You wake up and you start thinking about it. I used to wake up and instead of just like being grateful that I’m up and going and had a good night’s sleep, I thought, Well, I’ve got to do this. I got to do that and I got to do this.
Betty Collins: [00:06:24] And what about this and what? What keeps you up at night? And I kind of, you know, the overall. So I’m going to go back to these, the overall leadership and politics, the environment that workforce, the supply chains, financial concerns, people are like, well, the stock market’s rocking, Oh, it went down five hundred. No stop. Stop that. We’re going to talk about what you do with that. And then, you know, we still are kind of talking about twenty twenty and twenty one, right? We’re still. But are we looking back or are we looking forward? What keeps you up at night? And I think exhaustion sometimes can keep you up at night because you just can’t wind down and you’re just beyond. Let’s talk about these things that keep you up at night. Things about business owners that are crazy the workforce. Eighty three percent of businesses are struggling with real workforce access. They just don’t have people coming back to work. They don’t have new, new folks. It’s just that way. Eighty three percent, this is not a problem for just hey, retail or restaurants. It’s bigger than than that. It was really tight prior to COVID. I don’t think most people knew that. So when we went through this time period of tremendous change, I think it’s going to take a time period to have it change. Back when I was coming across information about the workforce, this was one of the statistics I was very, very surprised in.
Betty Collins: [00:07:45] 50 percent of teenagers work today. That’s mind boggling to me. We all worked when I was growing up. My kids all work, so it’s not just my generation and now we’ve taken that workforce out of our system. So I don’t know if it’s parents. Put your kids back to work because we’re all focused on act scores and college prep and et cetera, sports and being in two or three sports. But that has contributed to our workforce. So we’ve got to figure out how to get some of that back. You know, people think the shortages, they come up with these things, it’s like, do you have any research or data on it? And there’s some myths about it. You know, people stay home, they get paid more. That was only for three percent of the country during 2020 and 21. Well, if you pay more, they’ll come to work. No. They’re making outrageous offers right now to folks. In fact, if you ask people who are unemployed or employed, what is the number one thing they really want to they want to have in their job? It’s flexibility because they’ve been used to it over this last couple of years. Another myth is that we just are showing a lack of interest or people, and they just that’s not true. There’s a shortage of people. There was pre COVID.
Betty Collins: [00:08:55] So what are the solutions? You know, what do we do to get that workforce back? Well, part of it is I think you’re going to see it happening. First of all, the state and federal unemployment has ended. And so and that’s probably not going to go back to those those levels again, where they’re giving additional money for people to so that they could make it through this time. Another thing is in this may sound harsh, but you can you can now evict people. There’s not a lot of those things going on where for a while you couldn’t evict people if they weren’t paying rent. Another factor is student loan deferment is now over. So that’s another factor, right? But on the other side of that’s the income side. The other is that households, a family of four, it’s about one hundred and seventy five to two hundred dollars more a month to live in cost between food and gas and basic needs. So at some point, you’re going to start seeing people come back to work. For that reason, though, the incomes are gone and the expenses are higher. So I think you’re going to start seeing that, but I still think it’s going to take some time. So you’re going to be up at night. When it comes to your workforce, you’re going to be thinking about that. It’s just harder to do business. So any option and any idea and anything thing take that you can have with your team is crucial during this moment.
Betty Collins: [00:10:13] So you can hire and get on track solutions, pay more sure increase hours. Make sure certainly that you are competitive giving people more hours, especially if they were a 30 hour week. Can you can you do thirty two to thirty five? That would help anything to make productivity better. So you’ve got to evaluate your products and your services and how you’re delivering them and how you’re doing it. Because when you do that kind of stuff. Bingo, you don’t need as many people. So those are that’s another solution. And then you’ve got to focus on five very basic things when it comes to your workforce training, training, training and training. Now that’s not all my five, but training must exist for your employees. They want that. And when they have that and training isn’t just here’s how you do your job. Here’s why we do this. Here’s why we do our salad this way because we want it to be a certain product for the client. That’s why we do this. It’s why we order this kind of food to make it, et cetera, et cetera. So training is not just about here’s how you do it. Here’s why we do it. The other thing you have to focus on is adaptability. Flexibility is the number one thing people are looking for in their jobs right now.
Betty Collins: [00:11:25] Are you hybrid? Can I be home? Can I come in sometimes? Am I going to be hoteling my office? I mean, what can I do? Can I work any time from Monday through Sunday just so I get my job done, et cetera? When you look at those things, the next thing is then how are you going to recruit if you’re going to give those options? Because that’s what people are looking for and you’re looking for people. So you’ve got to be looking at what they are looking at and partnering with educational facilities around you. You know, it was funny. I have a client who is a cleaning company, and the Baby Boomers, of course, are starting to really, really retire. Kind of they still are working part time, but they’re doing things like, I just want two days a week where I can get out and do something. And so this cleaning company all of a sudden has had some retirees. So I said, Well, great. Go to your local senior center, go to your local community areas where older people hang out because they might see a job posting. They don’t want to go online, they don’t want to try to register that way. Instead, they might see something that looks more personal and just call you. It’s a great way to get that. Workforce, because they’re out there and they’re this is a very driven generation. And then you’ve got to consider.
Betty Collins: [00:12:32] Should I get some contingent workers in place contracts and temporary things which take attorneys and insight? But so those are some of the things you can do when you’re focusing on the five basics to get that workforce back. But eighty three percent of are going through it and focus on not what we used to do, focus on what do we need to do and the five things that I just talked about. What else keeps you up at night? Why is it hard to do business and be a business owner, the supply chain? I will tell you that when we get the people back to work, we will have our stuff right. I have a person who is in promotional products and instead of selling what they normally sell, and if client calls and wants this, they direct them to something that they can get. Ok. She’s had. And she says taking the order now is just not taking the order. It’s really giving them all kinds of different options of what’s available. And so she’s had to really work at that. But the five supply chain drivers are production, inventory, location and transportation and information. So those are the things that you need to have some influence on. Maybe you become the supplier. I have somebody doing that in right now in construction because he can’t get wood to build decks. So he’s like, everyone can’t get wood to build decks.
Betty Collins: [00:13:42] So he started buying wood and building it up and guess who has the wood he does because he’s now the supplier? He fixed his own supply problem by continually ordering bulk and finding it where he could find it. It took some time to build up. It was not instant, but now he is the supplier selling things that are really, really good profit. You know, the thing that needs to happen in our supply chain is that complexity needs to be removed and regulation has to be worked on. Do not ever underestimate that if you are big and need supplies and you can’t get it and you know it’s bogged down in regulation, call your representatives and your senators and people that are influential. These are everyday people. Most of them don’t look at the news, look at who’s in your in your districts and start calling them and say, I really need help. My association, this or my lobbying group that or I’m a business owner and I need this. How can you help me? Do not underestimate the power of that phone call because you have to try to to get that complexity removed. Companies with being intentional will win, and it will have the advantage. So when this guy goes out and buys his own lumber and just keeps stockpiling it, he now has something that somebody needs. It’s the same thing in the services industry as well. So you have to look at the supply chain as what can I control about it or it’s just going to take longer or I’m going to not sell as much.
Betty Collins: [00:15:05] So I’m going to have to sell it for more. You have to look at how can you control it and it will come back, especially as the workforce comes back. People have made a ton of stuff that’s sitting on ships. Believe me, they want to sell it, believe me. The other things that keep people up at night really are financial concerns. And it’s funny. This was a funny one because people are like, I’m holding onto my cash. I’m not going to borrow any money. And oh my goodness, and look at this. And then I have people who are like, Look at the stock market, we are rocking it. I mean, so both people are living in worlds of sort of you’re only focused or your your tunnel vision. You have to look at more than one thing when it comes to the financial concerns because this is what holds businesses back from reinvestment. They’re like, I better not do it now because who knows what’s going to happen to my four one kay or my savings or my line of credit, et cetera. These are the things you pay attention to. The stock market’s the easiest one. First, I have a very good financial planner. Do not try to play that. If you you can really lose very badly in that.
Betty Collins: [00:16:02] But the stock market is is very holding. It is thirty six thousand. It is all those things. It could go to thirty four. It could go up five hundred one day and eight hundred. It’s not the only indicator out there that you should be making financial decisions on interest rates. Right now they’re holding and the feds are doing that intentionally. So you really have to look at that interest rate thing and go, are they going up? Which interest rates going up the kind where I earn money in the bank? No. Or the kind I’m paying on my credit card or my loans. And right now, they’re holding those things. So that’s a strong indicator. How long will they hold it? So that’s why you look at it, what’s going to happen in twenty three and watch those interest rates? So now you’re watching the stock market, you’re watching the interest rates, look at unemployment rates. And yes, we are coming back and people are going to go to work. And we saw that even the numbers continue to get better with people who are not filing unemployment claims across the country. That number is a really important number. We’re very used to that being low, but you need to to continue to watch that, obviously during COVID when it went to 18 and 20 percent. Of course, that’s crazy, but that’s not where we normally live and it came back very quickly.
Betty Collins: [00:17:08] Inflation rate, everyone is not used to this. I remember it in the seventies. I remember my brother buying a house and 15 percent interest was what it was. And the day he got that to be, six percent was like a huge deal. But interest rates play. So not only just interest, I’m sorry in. Violation rates, interest, inflation, unemployment stock market, you need to watch all those, and if it’s something that overwhelms you, then get somebody to help you with that, whether it is your account or your financial planner. Economists are out there. They can be hard to understand sometimes, but those are things to pay attention to when you’re making financial decisions. But living in fear or making quick judgments on one factor is going to paralyze you and we all know what paralyzed does. You can’t move the other two things in financial concern. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on today, but they’re not easy. Is the GDP, which is really just the market value of your final goods and services? Is that growing? If it’s not and it’s stagnant, then you have to look and go, Oh, it’s stagnant. But all the costs to do business is continuing to go up. Those are things you watch the last one, which everyone kind of understands, but you know, maybe you don’t talk about it all the time is the consumer price index.
Betty Collins: [00:18:25] You know, what do you pay for things now? Well, I just said earlier in this podcast, groceries, basic needs and gas on a family of four is up one hundred and seventy five dollars a month. So we are paying more. But our are the goods that we’re selling are there’s something you can sell it for more right? Or is it going to be stagnant? So when you’re talking financial concerns, don’t just look at one thing. So then what other keeps us up at night? Well, the uncertainty, just the uncertainty from day to day in your operations. So what? What does that mean? Well, I’m going to tell you to stay with the basics of business. There are three things you stick with. I don’t care if it’s good times, bad times, I don’t care if it’s 19 and we’re roaring and 20 we stop and twenty one we climb out of a hole and twenty two. We’re optimistic and twenty three, et cetera. It doesn’t really matter. These are basics of business that you must practice if you’re going to have success and life is going to be not as hard. When I when I talk about plain and simple, it’s just hard to be in business. Stay with the basics. Number one, align your leadership. If you do not have aligned leadership, everybody going in the same direction, everybody in agreement. At the after they’ve all disagreed, we’re going to agree to disagree, but I mean, they must be aligned.
Betty Collins: [00:19:37] There must be a an absolute strong unity. Stick to strategy. That’s the second one. You do not want to have shoot from the hip. Let’s pivot. Now, let’s make a rash decision. No stick to strategy. Strategy means you’re thinking about it. You have a plan. It means you have purpose. You’re pulling all together. Your strategy needs to be relevant as well in the market time that you’re in. So don’t look at the what we call Sally in accounting, which is same as last year. But you have to stick to strategy and then you have to strengthen your sales and your operations together. You can have all kinds of sales goals if you don’t have supply chain and supplies and product to sell or you don’t have people to service, it doesn’t matter that you put all your focus and strategy on. We’re going to grow 30 percent or, hey, we’re going to just not hire anybody because we can’t hire anyone. And so we’re just going to be flat. And but the sales department is still going to grow. No, when you’re dealing in bigger contracts are bigger things you have to get with the operations, day to day folks and the people who are selling the product. So before you take a contract or before you decide to sell something or whatever it is, do you have the supplies and do you have the people? So those have to go hand in hand? It doesn’t matter that you want to grow 20 percent if you don’t have the people in the service to do, it doesn’t matter.
Betty Collins: [00:21:02] I mean, we have Bob Evans in our area right now who a lot of times can’t open for dinner because they have a host and a cook so they can talk all they want. That restaurant sales needs to be this today. Well, if you’re only open eight hours and their model and plan is to be open 15, you’re not going to meet those sales goals because you don’t have this. What some restaurants have just done has become very good at carryout because you can do that with a skeleton crew, so you still have to come with those options because everything in that store, strategy wise and and when you’re pulling your sales and operations together are counting on that. So you have to do those basics of business when you feel uncertain, stick to basics, align your leadership, stick to strategy and strengthen sales and operations together. You know, you’re up at night, and I made the comment that you probably have a night because you’re so exhausted. Have you ever had those nights where you can’t sleep because you’re just exhausted? I’ve had that right. So how do we quit being as exhausted as we continue to go forward? Well, here are things that I have personally done, and quite frankly, they work.
Betty Collins: [00:22:02] It’s been great for me. I have very little social media. You know why? Because it just takes from me more than it gives. Shut it down. Shut it down. Stop. I’ve actually gotten into crossword puzzles and reading a lot more. I still, though, must be informed you can’t just hide from the world what you’re living in. So research your outlets and make sure that their outlets that are making decisions on truth or giving you truthful information so you can make the decisions. You will not be as exhausted when you can be very cut and dry. Now, one of the things I like is the Epic Times. It’s a conservative newspaper, but I can go in there and it gives me my headlines of the day. It’s not sexy, it’s not jazzy. Because you know what? It’s just news. It’s not opinions. It’s not. Here’s an editorial. It’s just this happened today, OK? At least I know kind of what happened. If I want to click on it, I can. Part of not being exhausted, part of getting some good sleep at night is you have to plan restoration. I know for myself when I know my week is going to be a certain way, I do this now. I look at Sunday or I look at Saturday or Thursday afternoon. I find a time where since I knew Tuesday and Wednesday, we’re going to be absolutely mind boggling.
Betty Collins: [00:23:15] I’m going to be home at Thursday working or I’m going to come. I’m going to take off a little earlier. I’m going to make sure Thursday night isn’t filled with an activity because I need to have a little bit of quiet, maybe with a nice firepit night. It doesn’t matter that it’s Thursday night. I need that restoration to get through Friday and the weekend or whatever it is. When I know that I’m going to hit some certain deadlines right after that, I always make sure there’s a day spa. Something right doesn’t have to be a whole day. It doesn’t have to be crazy. But I have planned restoration when I know my children are coming and they’re bringing their beautiful babies. I know in 30 hours of that, I’m going to be exhausted so nothing can be planned for the next 24 hours because I’ve got I’m going to need to totally overhaul my house because I wanted a certain way, and I know that I’m going to have to plan to rest so that I can enjoy them. But then I’m OK. Planned restoration elimination of negative people just continued to get those purge those people out of your life. You won’t be nearly as exhausted and then you have to look at that balance of health, their spiritual, physical and emotional. They all work together. This was one who changed a lot for me in 2021, the year of twenty twenty one when I came in after a year pandemic, of course, I said I got to do something different and I found a book about rhythm and balance.
Betty Collins: [00:24:33] And in this book, it talks about, here’s the stuff that takes from you, and here’s the stuff that that gives to you. And here’s how much you need. In each balanced quarter, there were four areas, but one of the things that I really learned from that book was the first, and the last hour of the day is really crucial. How I spend my first hour of the day, I how do I want to spend that? I want to get up a little slower and I want to enjoy my house a little bit more and have coffee. I want to pack a healthy lunch. There’s just this vision I had for that first hour of the day. At the end of the day, I don’t want to wind down with TV because it distracts me. I don’t want to wind down with social media because it would distract me. Instead, I wanted to read something positive. I wanted to have some time of gratitude. I chose how I ended my day, which means when I ended that way, I sleep better. And when I start my day, I have a better day. So control the first and last hour of your day. You’ll be amazed in that. You’ve got to figure out what you want that to be.
Betty Collins: [00:25:34] So that’s that’s just as much, you know, you’re created on purpose for a purpose. I’ve never been a big fan of a of a life statement, but I am a big fan of my why and when I’m talking to you, the business owner and people who are in business, when you get discouraged with it, I make sure I focus on my why and what is that? Well, my why is when the U.S. works, the world works. But I took it a step further and I like the when employers have employees, those folks get their provision from that, from that business owner. Those are those are households, right? And those households form our communities. And what I can focus on that is my purpose. That is why I was created to help in this segment called accounting. I can clear the air a little bit. I can go, OK. You can do this. And what I would tell you is what I continue to do, so I’m not so exhausted is I’m bringing back the things that I miss in my life, especially from pre pre-COVID. Those are important things. You know, socialization is huge for me, things that I just really wanted to get together with more. I just started doing that. I have a friend who said, I just want to go to dinner and not talk about COVID 19 in politics and stuff.
Betty Collins: [00:26:48] I just wonder, know how your kids are. I just want to have some fun. I just want some light enjoyment. That was that’s what she’s missing. So she’s making sure she’s doing that and those things will energize you. They will give back to you, and the exhaustion will continue to to be less. So those are the things I want to talk about in the plain and simple, it’s just hard to be in business. It’s just hard to be a business owner. So get hold of those things that are keeping you up at night. Deal with the things. Call this thing called fear, so you’re not paralyzed. Get some help to get through these things. Maybe if they’re too much for you, economic wise, or you feel like you’ve got to be an economist to understand those things that I talked about. You’ll see a difference. I have seen that difference. So I’m just grateful that you joined me today, and I hope this podcast was inspiring for you. Inspired women has been presented by Brady Ware & Company as your career advancements continue, your financial opportunities will continue to grow. Be prepared. Visit Brady Ware to find out more about the accounting services. They can assist you to that next level. All this, plus more about the podcast, can be found in the show notes for this episode. Thank you so much for tuning in. Feel free to share the show or give us a review. Remember, inspiration is powerful. Whose life will you be changing?