Old pocket watchFear is your trigger, time is your weapon.

These two words, fear and time control every business decision that we make.

Last week I attended the jewellery show in Sydney and had the pleasure of meeting clients from around Australia. Of course the same old statements begin every conversation, how's business? Things are tough! It's not like it used to be!

Inevitably, me being me, I ask the following question: so what are you doing about it?

When in the rare circumstance someone responds with something truly different, my second question is: so have you started, or when will you be launching this new initiative?

Forget the verbal responses; it's the physical ones which make me feel uncomfortable. You would think I'm a hunter with a shotgun and they are Deer caught in my spotlight. The fear in their eyes, the subtle body shift, the tilt of the head whereby they gaze out into the distance, whilst they respond with some hugely general statement like "yeah, were getting close" ensuring they avoid eye contact, is all too common.

I pose these questions, in the hope that maybe I might be able to add some small suggestion, or recommend someone who I think they could speak to, to help move whatever project they are working on forward.

So the bottom line, and back to my 80/20 rule, I actually believe that 80% of our trade is allowing the fear of the unknown to paralyse them into inaction. Like always 20% of our trade is pumped, motivated, excited and has already executed a number of plans to take them into the next phase of their undoubtedly successful future.

So if you fall in the 80% category, which let me add we all experience at different times, the question I pose to you is: Are you finding yourself paralysed with fear of not knowing what to do next in your business, that you resort to doing the same thing every day, with little to no change? Yep, we are all guilty of convincing ourselves that we are very busy, and can't find the time to make changes. Sound familiar?

Can't find the time? Guess what, that's exactly what you can find and must find. Can't find the money to pay bills? That's a little bit trickier, but can't find the time to identify and implement the changes that need to happen... Rubbish.

No one of us has all the answers, however if you are the owner of the business or manager, leading a team you have at your fingertips is the key. It's just recognizing what it is and forcing yourself - and I don't use the word forcing lightly - to take action.

The next thing I'm going to ask you, seems so ridiculously obvious, can you overcome two fundamental fears to move forward?

Fear number one: Admit to yourself that you really don't know what the next step should be.

Fear number two: You are scared letting on to those around you, who rely on you to lead the way, that you don't really know the best steps to take moving forward.

Okay, so let's put one thing on the table: I have experienced personally and continue to do so these emotions. We all know that everything is moving so fast, that every time we want to take a new course of action we are risking both capital and manpower, but we don't have a choice.

Inaction, filling your day with being busy and not confronting the hard questions is a recipe for disaster (painful reading this huh). So I will now share with you what I do.

Fear is my motivator. It's my driver, it's the tool which teaches me humility and forces me to make changes.

But now the key that I was talking about is not that you have to interpret fear like I do. That’s just my way of dealing with it. The key is finding those around you with knowledge and experience to talk to.

It's that bloody simple as a first step.

You need to reach out and ask for help. You have to be prepared to open the books to your accountant, your colleagues, your mentor if you have one, or maybe just someone in the industry who can just be a sounding board. What I will tell you, is that you can't think about just limiting yourself to one person. Yes, maybe one consultant may act as a guide , but you need to speak to your suppliers who see 100 customers like you. Be prepared to accept that they see really basic mistakes you are making, things that you could be doing in your business to improve things. These suppliers also see great things that others are doing in different states that maybe you could implement overnight. Some suppliers probably need to do the same things themselves, in their own businesses.

Have a chat to a friend in another business and put it on the line, ask what would they do? Maybe there are things being done in other industries that could be adapted to ours but no one has thought about it yet.
I will tell you of a really impressive group. You often hear me speaking about the Edge Academy and how impressed I am with David Brown and Mike Dyer. Did you know Mike facilitates a mini groups of retailers who sit down over 1 day and open their books to each other no matter how good or bad it looks, and discuss things that work for each other, where they make better margins, marketing campaigns, dealing with staff issues, etc., and they are all talking the same language.

No one is good at everything. We need to reach out, at minimum ask a lot of questions and in some cases hire the expertise to get us to the end goal faster and hopefully with fewer mistakes.

If you are not good at asking or reaching out, then read books. Take two mornings off a week and either read some great books (there is an insane amount of info out there), or just surf the web reading articles. You will notice I said take two mornings off a week... time is what you must dedicate to finding the answers, it’s the one thing you do have.

Turn that bloody phone off for 3 hours. If your business is heading south and your fear thermometer is burning up, then my suggestion is say to your staff or team, "Lets pretend I am in hospital and you cannot contact me or speak to me for 7 days". Now make a list of who you are going to speak to, and make the appointments. Or buy some books, lock yourself in a room with your computer and start searching (but I must add, nothing beats speaking to others).

Everyone has heard the famous quote:

"If you fail to plan , you plan to fail."

All changes in business take time (that magic word again) to implement and reap the rewards. But you must start now. Do not wait till next week, next month or after Christmas. Time is running out.

Scribble on a scrap of paper three things you need to accomplish - you are now moving forward.

When I attended the young jewellers group at the Trade Show and then the JAA Jewellery Awards night, I was smiling knowing that the jewellery industry in Australia has an exciting future. Our trade has bright capable jewellers and designers who are passionate and grasp technology.

Make a choice! Make a decision! Use your fear as a trigger to move forward. All you need to do now is put aside the time to plan and execute the next phase of your business to achieve success.

Trade well.