Guest Blogger Ben Rao: How to Tell Whether Your Business will Fail

As I learn more about myself and my business, I realize how little I really know. Don’t get me wrong, my business is successful, but sometimes the filters I wear as a business owner and entrepreneur keep me from seeing the entire truth. Sometimes it’s ego or pride. Sometimes it’s perspective. When the filters are in the way, it helps to connect with people smarter than me (which isn’t hard to do these days).

I just returned from one of my quarterly mastermind meetings with some of the most successful real estate investors and owners from across the country, and man, does it adjust my filters on how I look at myself and my business.

If you’re not in a mastermind or professional networking group, find one and find it quick. It can make a tremendous impact on your business and your personal life.

Recently, I was reminded to closely look at my business and scrutinize the upward trends. Was the success coming from our sales and operations systems? Maybe I’m just an amazing businessman? Maybe I’m lucking out? Or was it because the market is really hot right now?

Question your success.

Don’t let a hot market lull you into a false sense of confidence. The cyclical nature of the real estate investment industry has seen many ups and down over the years. In an up market, businesses is booming and everything is perfect. So perfect that you can’t see the flaws.

This is the time to step away from your business and invest in systems, process and operational perfection. I guarantee you have holes in your boat that you’re ignoring and, if the market shifts, they might just sink your business.

If you think about business as a funnel, the top of the funnel is all of your sales opportunities; the middle is processing the opportunities; and the bottom is profit. Inefficiencies in the middle of the funnel are easily hidden if business is booming (the top of your funnel).

However, it doesn’t do you much good to have a strong top of the funnel, only to have those efforts leak out in the middle. Whether you convert those leads or not, you paid for them, so it makes sense to double-down on your conversion efforts.

When the market shifts, a strong middle funnel could make the difference between weathering the storm or closing your doors.

Optimization forces you to measure.

You need metrics to quickly gauge the health of your business and spot problems. Those metrics are key performance indicators (KPIs). Start simple when choosing KPIs. Too many and you’ll bog yourself down in details.

How many leads are you getting? Where are they coming from? What is the conversion rate into a customer, a potential deal, etc.?

As an entrepreneur, visionary and a quick start, I have a hard time stopping to document processes or create training. I’d rather be dreaming up new ways to fill the top of the funnel for more business. I don’t have the time to spend on the middle funnel. I’m too busy filling the top of the funnel, which can conceal a lot of the inefficiencies in the company.

The biggest investment you can make in your company is taking a real unbiased look at your business. Set aside your pride and ego, then try to get past your filters.

It takes some practice as an entrepreneur because we typically wear many hats while we get our businesses off the ground. In the early stages, sales are critical and you’re in survival mode. But does it have to be so difficult once you start adding people in different positions?

Takeaways:

  • Define your KPIs.
  • Document your core processes.
  • Apply some stress tests to your KPIs. What happens if your conversion rate doubles, assuming your volume stays the same?
  • Are your expenses out of whack? What is your fixed overhead? Where would you tighten your belt first if the market shifted?

It’s better to have a plan in place and not need it, than to be caught with your pants down (because you were missing your belt, right?). A solid plan saves you time when you have to respond, and time is crucial.

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