Market musings

One Resource That Small Business Owners Must Protect to Grow Safely

by Sasha Viasasha
August 31, 2017

In a recent blog, we talked about defending your time against people and things that try to pull you off course. After you secure your time boundaries, there’s another critical resource that you need to protect.

It’s not cash, it’s not your best employees, it’s not your market differentiator, though all of those also deserve to be closely tended.  It’s a concept that has been around since the 1980's but has only really been explored in the past few years.

“Cognitive resource theory” proposes that when mental stress reaches a given level, it short circuits rationality and individuals default to instinctual behavior that may not be (usually isn't) in their best interest. Does it make sense to hire? Hire who? Merge or be acquired? Go all out on buying an expensive phone system? These are stressful decisions and pride always comes before a poor management decision.

You could sum it up as “Don’t make decisions when you’re scared,” but it’s a bit more complex than that in reality.

Why smart growth matters

Not all growth is good. Anyone who gardens can tell you that. In the business world, uncontrolled growth has many more serious consequences.

In his examination of five companies that failed by growing too quickly, entrepreneur Sujan Patel wrote:

“Growth alone isn’t enough to support and sustain a company if the right conditions aren’t met. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for businesses excited about growth to accept – or even create – challenges that they’re not equipped to handle.”

The numbers don’t lie. The Startup Genome Project found that “growing too quickly” was the single most significant predictor of business failure, responsible for 74% of businesses that had to close their doors for good.

On the other hand, it’s not safe to sit and wait it out either. A recent analysis of market churn projects that 75% of businesses on the S&P 500 will be replaced by 2027. Will your small business replace them or go down with them?

Better decision support

AI and machine learning tools are gaining widespread acceptance for their new role in decision support for small business owners based on data analysis and trend projections. These models can only as accurate as the assumptions built into them though.

Intelligent decision-making must serve as your foundation for business growth plans and everything else you have to deal with on a daily basis.

Cognitive resource theory has produced some suggestions on how you can conserve your brain power and repel cognitive stressors.

There’s no doubt that people a working harder, spending more hours at work, taking work home and devoting more cognitive resources to their jobs, yet the US productivity has stalled. Why? A likely culprit is “analysis paralysis.”  When there are too many sensory inputs and too much information that must be retained in short term memory, thinking speed slows to a crawl and even simple tasks become more error-prone.

A study by LexisNexis found that most information workers spend more than half of their days just trying to manage the information coming at them instead of completing their assigned tasks. If you are trying to run a small business and find yourself inundated with too many inputs, your first task should be to unplug and repair your cognitive resources.

One simple answer

At Spoke, we’re a team of entrepreneurs with extremely varied backgrounds, but we have all faced this same problem. We came together to create a simple solution that could help other small business owners simplify their lives and have a better shot at success.

Your life is complicated enough. You don’t need communications to complicate it further. When it comes time to implement a business phone system, there’s no need to bury yourself in PBX vs. hosted VoIP vs. on-premise servers. You’ve already got a business phone system in your hand: your smart phone.

All you need is an app that turns your phone and all your employee phones into a single, powerful network. That’s what Spoke does. Simple as that. No IT guy, no wires, no maintenance. You can have all the features you need to do business, like a single business line that autoroutes the call to the right phone, an AI receptionist who takes calls when you can’t, and local numbers in any market you want to serve.

Grow smart, at your own speed, but present a professional front door as you do. Download Spoke’s free trial to see why this is such a good decision. Your cognitive resources will thank you.

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