In a world where nothing seems to stay in focus for long its hard to have clear, unshakable beliefs about the marketplace and your position in it. Competition changes, marketing evolves, and as small business owners, we always feel the presence of consolidators and big business competitors breathing down our neck. Every morning we must wake up and re-engage in the battle, often feeling like it would just be easy to stay in bed. Over time complacency and indifference creep in, and unfortunately, it becomes evident to our customers, clients, employees long before we wake up and see it in ourselves.

Don’t believe me?

Walk down the street in any community, stop and visit the local companies. What do you see? Have they stopped paying attention to small details? Is the signage crisp and freshly painted, the displays new and enticing? Do you feel the experience is fresh, the greetings sincere and the employees motivated? If not, what is going on? Apparently there was once excitement, a grand opening, a new beginning. The transference of positive energy the company once had has dissipated and has been replaced by routine and “It’s just another work day” syndrome.

So, what’s the issue, why has this happened?

It would be easy to blame some outside force for this change, the competition, the economy or just a slow month but the truth is the owner of the company – you – are tired, overwhelmed and have stopped paying attention to the most crucial part of your business, its perception in the mind of your customer. You may be busy with busywork, but you’re losing the battle. Over time complacency is contagious, and like an infection, it will spread if not addressed. First to your employees, then to customers, lenders, and vendors.

You, as the leader, are responsible to set the bar daily.

If people feel like you don’t care, why should they? It’s time to wake up! The first step is to walk into your business and ask yourself what you see, smell, feel, hear and can touch. Open your mind and try to see things through the eyes of your clients, customers, and employees. In my experience if the business is sloppy the owner is sloppy, angry then the owner is angry, fraught with busywork then the owner is scattered, and so on. In other words, your business is a direct reflection of you! Everything good and everything bad about your business is a direct reflection of something in its leadership.

That’s the opportunity, and that’s where all change begins. Once you see this, the energy returns and new personal and business goals can be set. The cure often spreads much faster than the disease, in other words, positive change happens quickly. This is where a good Business Coach or trusted advisor comes in. Owners often need help seeing what is indeed not working in their business but once uncovered can respond quickly to fix the problem.

The biggest threat to Small Business is the mental state of its leader – you don’t have to face the frustrations of business ownership alone. When you change, the world changes with you.