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The risk of the ignoring the elephant in the room

An ‘elephant in the room’ is a metaphor for living with a huge issue and either you see the elephant but do nothing to get rid of it or you don’t even see it despite it being hard to miss. In your business it is an obvious problem or risk that no one wants to address or discuss. Instead, you pretend it is not there and occupy your time with other issues rather than deal with the looming big one.

In previous posts we have covered some of the common elephants in the room of a business owner: losing customers, poor morale, bad debt and pursuing the wrong clients.

There are three other big elephants that you should look in the eye of address.

Common client complaints or recurring issues

This is an obvious, looming elephant in the rooms of small businesses that find it easier to try and work around the issues, rather than addressing them. This elephant needs to be identified and then kicked out of your business on a regular basis.

Just think of the amount of time, sales, customers and energy wasted over reoccurring issues and customer complaints!

Some of the smartest advice I ever received was to “turn problems into procedures”. Over the years this has worked wonders at fixing reoccurring problems in my business. This has led to me eliminating problems in my business and retaining clients who might have left or slipped through cracks.


No matter how good your turnover or sales figures are, if you are not making money you will not survive long in business.

It is not rocket science. If your expenses are consistently more than your income. You are going out the back door eventually.

You need to know what your income is versus expenses. This will tell you where there are problems in your business. Perhaps your expenses are too high, or your profit margin is too low, or you are not generating enough sales, or your stock management is unrealistic. You also need to have an ongoing understanding of your business’ cash flow.

Unfortunately, many accountants are just historians. They tell you that you went broke two months ago. A good accountant however is pro-active in monitoring the profitability of your business, offering tax-effective business advice and even business strategies. They are not there to kick your goals, but rather to keep score for you and to give you game-winning advice.

Time management

Are you running yourself ragged trying to do everything and be everything in your business? Even the smallest business will benefit from you delegating and concentrating on the most profitable use of your time.

By carefully identifying the best areas of your business to delegate responsibility to and by calculating the return on investment, you can decide if you should make a smaller investment such as hiring a virtual assistant or bookkeeper, or if you should take a bigger step such as employing someone full-time.

It’s time to show those looming ‘elephants’ the door! Sometimes this is easier said, than done. How have you dealt with these common ‘elephants’? Do you know of other business problems that as small business owners we like to avoid?

What do you think?

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Rick Mapperson

Rick Mapperson

Rick Mapperson is the founder and managing director of Rick Mapperson and Associates ( http://sydneyinsurancebroker.com.au/), a personal insurance brokerage. Rick has been insuring people, particularly small business owners, for twenty years. Rick combines his skills as a licensed Financial Planner and his understanding as the co-founder of an Australian charity focused on families, to understand the best interests of his clients. You can follow Rick on twitter @RickMapperson

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