The Strategic Business Blog

Are You a Business Owner Suffering From Self-Inflicted Wounds?

Posted by Terry McGill

frustrated small business ownerAs I travel around the country and work with small business owners, I have realized that there are certain limiting factors in the small business marketplace that are universal in nature and fairly commonplace. Those are self-inflicted wounds.

  • It’s not the economy
  • It’s not interest rates
  • It’s not China
  • It’s not the banks
  • It’s not a lack of talented people
  • It’s not the President
  • It’s not the folks down the street
  • It’s not the neighbor’s cat 

It’s the business owners themselves, who, for lack of a better description, continue to self-inflict damage upon their companies. Eighty percent of the time, the majority of the problems and issues that I encounter are created by and supported by the business owner or owners of the underlying company. It can take many different forms and go by many different names, but at the end of the day, it goes back to the business owners and something they did or did not do. It goes back to their attitudes and how they solve problems and their follow through or lack thereof. It goes back to whether they created a company that has evolved uncontrolled to its present form or whether they put a designed and strategic plan into place and then executed that plan.

Sometimes, the most difficult task is to protect a business owner or owners from themselves, given their tendencies to self-inflict damage to themselves and their businesses. Many times, I find business owners that have already had one or two companies fail and they are on the second or third company, yet doing the very same things that got them into trouble with their other entities.

My Responses to 4 Common Issues I Hear on a Daily Basis:

“My cash flow is terrible”

No, you have great cash flow. It flows through your front door and immediately out your back door. You don’t have a problem with cash flow; it’s flowing very quickly and profusely. You have a problem with cash retention and profitability.

“I don’t have good employees, they are all lazy and don’t know what they are doing”

Who hired them? You, the business owner. You may have personnel issues, training issues, accountability issues and/or communication issues.

“I don’t make as much as my top employees”

That makes no sense to me at all. Why would you take all the risk, the financial stress and strain, the emotional stress and strain and be the lowest paid individual on the totem pole? You allowed the business to just evolve and without a plan or design, it evolved against you.

“I can’t take any time off because if I’m not here, nothing will get done the right way and all the employees know I will take care of it if they mess it up.”

This has more issues and problems than I have time to list them all. Is this what you wanted to happen 20 years ago? Who allowed this to get out of control? YOU DID!

Do any of these sound familiar?

Please understand, it doesn’t have to be this way unless you continue to allow it to be this way. It is always your choice, it's your business, and it’s your future.

The next time you are sitting alone in your office, with your head in your hands and wondering how it ever got to be this way, get up, go to the mirror and you will find all the answers you seek.

Once you realize and accept that as the business owner everything starts with you, it becomes easier to open up and allow different thoughts and different attitudes to prevail and start down that road to recovery from self-inflicted wounds and self-inflicted pain. Once this occurs, I say to you:

“Congratulations, Mr. or Mrs. Business Owner, now you have something to look forward to.”

If you'd like to start taking more control of your business, you may want to download our "Strategic by Design Guide: Eliminate Over 80% of All Management Problems."


Guide: Eliminate Over 80% of All Management Problems



Terry McGill is a small business consultant and managing partner of Strategic Business Directs.

Topics: Small Business Management, Self-Inflicted Wounds, Small Business