There is no simple instruction book that explains every single thing we need to know to run business. If there was, it would be a mighty big book. Sure, there are certain aspects of running a business that are common to all, like knowing your financial details enough to be clear on whether or not you are making money. However there are other elements of running a business that are less tangible and more behavioral, but just as important.
An example of this is having a realistic attitude towards money. To run a business we need to be optimistic, but there are times when we need to make sure that we are balancing our optimism with a strong dose of reality. I have worked with business owners who go through one long financial roller coaster ride in their business. One of the biggest reasons for this rough ride is they assume a sale is completed before the money is even in the bank.
By this I mean they get all of their hopes and plans tied up on the outcome of a big job or project. They have submitted their prices and their mind races ahead to what this will mean for the business and what they will be able to pay off or buy as a result of winning the project. The more they visualize the reward the more real it becomes and in their mind, the money is spent long before they have even been awarded the job.
Two difficult things start to happen when feeling like this. Firstly, they become almost desperate to win the project, often without really thinking through what it will mean for the business. Is it as good a project as it seems, how will they fund it, staff it, manage it and so forth?
Secondly, they stop all other business development whilst waiting to be notified regarding the project they are now desperate to hear about. And this can spell disaster.
The first issue can lead to disappointment and depression. In their mind they have already won the job, so if they are told they haven't, it can be very upsetting. Even worse they have already painted such a mental picture about what the money will do, the depressed feeling of loss can take away all motivation and create other problems in the business, including poor morale for the entire team.
The second issue, stopping all other business development in anticipation of winning the big project, is an even bigger issue. From my experience the bigger the project the longer the decision making process can take. This can lead to long periods of time when a business is doing no business development, pinning all hopes on wining the "big" contract.
So how do we manage these issues? My advice is simple, never assume you have won a project, contract or client until the money is in the bank. It is an old clich, but it has worked very well for me over many years. I remove the emotional attachment from all projects that I am bidding for--if I get it, great, but I don't hold my breath waiting to find out and I certainly don't stop business development whilst I am waiting to hear.
Learning to be detached from the outcome of any sale can help to keep you focused and driving your business forward. When you get the first payment of a big project, then celebrate and go a little wild.