6 Character Traits Strangling Small Business Cash Flow

And how a trusted employee or loved one can loosen the knot

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Think back to the last time someone hurt you – in an emotional sense.

How did you react? Dependant upon the way you handle confrontation it may be necessary to brace yourself, as this post contains elements with the potential to offend – as well as to boost profitability.

Luckily you are in control of the outcome, what’s it to be – annoyance or improved cash flow? Mmmm… don’t choose now, read on for a bit.

Ric Payne is a highly respected thinker in the small business space and a prolific writer on the topic of how to increase profit. Throughout his extensive career working with owners in Australia, the USA, and United Kingdom, he regularly encountered 6, unhelpful, character traits.

Many proprietors exhibit them all! The result being they strangle the cash flow critical to the success of the enterprise they operate.

Think carefully about your own situation as you read the descriptions. This self-evaluation is important as it is unlikely the people you pay for advice will point out flaws in your personality. (It’s a don’t upset the client type thing).

If you recognise a failing or two (or three…), take the path of self-development offered at bottom of this post, your reward will be improved profitability and cash flow.

Poor character Trait #1: No Vision of What the Business Stands For


A lack of insight into their core purpose manifesting in an uncertainty surrounding the customer segment(s) they can best create value for. The enterprise attempts to be all things to all people, with the inevitable consequence of failing to define a service model to WOW the customers who are potentially the most valuable to them.

#2: Not Setting Targets


Business owners are shocking at establishing goals. Without them, there is nothing to aim for or to monitor progress against – and no basis on which to manage, other than in the form of reactive crisis control. In these circumstances, the organisation lacks benchmarks and floats like a rudderless ship. Under-performance is most often not the result of a poor strategy, but of imperfect execution, and the absence of goal-oriented activities.

#3: Trying to Heal With Band- Aids


They lack discipline, allowing themselves to be drawn into dealing with short-term issues by treating symptoms with unreliable band-aid solutions – instead of addressing root causes. 

#4: A Preoccupation With Costs


The reality of operating in an environment of cash flow constraints forces owners to be cost focused rather than value driven, manifesting in a preference to buy the cheapest inputs and to minimise expenditure on training and other business building investments. The marketing and pricing strategies adopted drive margins down in the mistaken belief their customers are similarly cost-focused.

#5: Believing Their Circumstances Are Unique


They are parochial in their view of the world and the changes taking place around them, believing the problems they face are special to them or their industry, and they are doing as best as can be done given the conditions. Because of this, they are unable or unwilling to adapt to change.

#6: Poor Time Management


As appalling managers of their own time proprietors find it easier to “do it themselves” rather than investing time and resources to systematise processes and delegate responsibility to team members.


Ouch! Tell us what you really think Ric.

I am no different to anyone else in relying on the support of others for business success, hence there is a certain danger in publishing a harsh critique of the audience you seek to attract.

I am relying therefore on any negative sentiment created by the proceeding words, being offset by:

  1. Explaining my belief, the character traits are an inevitable consequence of the structure of all small businesses.
  2. My offer of free resources designed to counteract the unfavourable impact on profitability brought about by the presence of any (or all) of the foibles described.

When setting about fixing a problem it helps to understand why the issue came to be.

My theory apropos the unavoidable poor management behaviour of business proprietors is outlined in the 3-minute video embedded below, along with a simple solution – the appointment of a “Sustainer”.

The presentation is an extract from the free course Profit Improvement – First Steps.

Chances are you will not prioritise the time to undertake the training, or even view the excerpt.

So, try this instead. Send the following note to someone you respect (a trusted employee or loved one).

“I would like you to read this blog post, and enrol in the 40-minute course it refers to. Apparently, it contains information to help improve our cash flow. Let me know what you think.”

Don’t ignore the opportunity just presented. If you relate in any way to 6-character traits Ric Payne suggests are responsible for business owners not achieving their full potential, the material on offer will help you better react to feelings of frustration, anxiety, or annoyance.

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