Five Ways NOT to F**k Up Your Business

(Editorial note: Yes, I have done my fair share of research on the subject, but these are my thoughts stemming from my own experience running Sage Organizing LLC. I truly hope that if I can spare someone new to the business world the pain I have had to endure, it will be worth it in the end.)

As another year grids down to the bony finger tips of old father time, it seems everyone is in reflection and prediction mode all at the same time. So here is my twist on the end of the year “Best Of” and New Year resolutions list mixed together. No need to decide which one is the most important because they should all be done, or not done each day.

  • If you don’t like what you are doing stop!

There is a fine line between love and hate and that line is not called “like”, or is it? Like is an over-used word in our present society. Like is used when we aren’t ready to commit, like is soft. Like is PC. Like is used to describe your feelings about something when you are afraid to express either LOVE or HATE. Let’s face it, most of us have strong feelings about every topic but we hold back on expressing them because we don’t want to hurt others feelings, that’s great. No one wants to be around a character like Jim Carey’s role in Liar, Liar. But in your business…

Whether you are the only one or you have employees, if you are not committed to LOVE what you do it isn’t the time for LIKE. If you think about what you do and it doesn’t make you smile, it is time to stop! There is not room in your business for linear thinking or “it will get better” thinking. Running down an established path because “everyone else” does it will not only make you hate your business, but it will kill it too.

  • In business, as in life, the reality is the world is like high school. Accepted.

Not everyone is going to like love you, your services or your products. Honestly, some might not understand what you are trying to do and some won’t care. You are not Molly Ringwald and your business is not the next chapter in the story of Sixteen Candles. Don’t wait around for the football star to wake up and see that your product/service is perfect for him even if it is. Trying to go main stream and please everyone is the kiss of death for your business.

Think I am being harsh? I have one word for you, REM. The band that is, not the study of sleep patterns. Great band in the 1980’s but as soon as they start producing more main stream, well-played music…..yuck. It is very clear to me how REM could go from a dark, rocking soulful band to “Shiny Happy People.” It all probably started with, “You know what you should do….”  I am not saying that other people opinions don’t matter, I am just saying that you know each issue that arises in your business is complex and only you have ALL the information to decide what should be done. Input is great, but they are just suggestions not a course of action. Spend too much time listening to suggestions and you will be unfocused and that again is the kiss of death.

  • Find help that can really help, NOW!

Ah, what a slippery slope I navigate daily! Didn’t I just get done saying not to listen to others suggestions? I stand by that statement, but there will come a time in your business when you will play the part of the football player finally waking up and say, “Shit, I need some help!” As soon as you clue in to this fact, get the help you need. Don’t wait, don’t pass GO and don’t think that $200 dollars is really going to make a difference if something is broken. The key is to find people/products who understand what you are trying to do, listen to your issues, and really believe they can help. The problem is most help in any form has been standardized, sanitized and canned for your protection. It won’t help, here is why.

A while back I came across an article written for Entrepreneur Magazine entitled, “12 Surprising Signs You Could Be an Entrepreneur.” I personally didn’t find the list all that surprising but in any case, if you look at the list it will be clear that this type of person is not main stream. They are more Sheldon Cooper than Honey Boo Boo and with that, off the shelf solutions will not work. Does the thought of a product that helps Honey Boo Boo, helping you and your business scare you? It should, so if the product or service doesn’t speak to you, to your needs, walk away. Don’t spend the time, money or effort trying to make canned SPAM look like filet mignon. But don’t stop looking otherwise it is bye-bye business.

  • Create every day.

Creativity is an interesting thing, most people think it is this elusive trait that only the few were born with where I think just the opposite. I think we are all born with the ability to be creative. But growing up in a linear world most of us have the novelty knocked out of us at a very early age. Insisting that children draw straight lines to make a box and then color within said box is the worst thing you can do to a mind that only sees possibilities in life. Straight lines and a well colored box does not make you creative, it makes you a linear thinker focused on finishing the task and avoiding failure.

Curiosity on the other hand ignites creativity. And creative ideas are just what you need in your business to face your specific challenges. It doesn’t matter if you are an Accountant, a landscapers or a Painter being creative everyday starts with the ability to ask questions, “I wonder if……? Or, why does…..?” about any issue you are facing in your business.

The key is to take problems and morph them into possibilities. Problems stay problems when you spend too much time dwelling on them. Opening the door with a curious mind opens the door to a creative opportunities and a possible conclusion. Work through these four stages every day.

Challenge – Curiosity – Creativity – Conclusion, begin again.

Note please, that even though this is a directional process, it is not linear thinking. You close the loop by testing and retesting a theory (a curiosity) until the issue at hand is solved. Each time you run through the process you pick up new information at helps solve the problem. It is a flow chart that left brain people (also the ones who don’t think of themselves as creative) love so well! Don’t be afraid of gathering information, it will only strengthen the solution in the end.

  • Do what you already know you need to do.

Expect as much from yourself as you do from your service/product providers. You know what needs to be done….Yes, you do. Just do it, commit.

Perhaps not so happy and inspiring but these tips may just close the gap between problems and possibilities in your business. All of this being said, these tips could easily be applied to your personal life as well, so let us commit to ourselves this year, whether it is being honest with ourselves, excepting reality, sparking our own fire, or just getting “it” done.

Raise a glass and say good-bye to 2012, don’t let the door hit you on the way out!