You live your business every day and you know it inside and out. This is a double-edged sword, because it makes it impossible for you to see things the way your customers do. And that is costing you money and opportunities every day.
Wherever I’ve worked, I am always excited to pick the brain of a new staff member before they start to get entrenched in the way things are done. They haven’t seen the company yet through the same distorted lenses that I and everyone I work with see through.
I’ve been doing this long enough that I’ve developed my “right way” of doing things. To the point that I almost wouldn’t consider doing things any other way. But the new team member doesn’t know any of this. So if they’re brave enough to tell me that what we’re doing doesn’t make sense, we have a big opportunity to improve.
What annoys you on a daily basis? What takes too long to do? What takes a long time to do and you think that’s just how it is? There’s almost always another way to do something, and there’s usually a better solution to a problem. But it’s often impossible to see when you’re knee-deep in “the way things are.”
An outside perspective can be just what you need to get you over a hump – solve a problem, find more customers, develop new ways of getting the word out about your business. Ask around – talk to other business owners, friends, family. Talk to professionals in the fields you need help with. Ask your customers.
I guarantee that if you listen to people about your business you’ll get some new ideas that will drive you forward.
I’m not a “self-helpy” person, and it’s always seemed a little self-indulgent to spend time thinking about things like my core values. But honestly over the years, if I had I would have started my own business much sooner.
I’ve honestly wasted a lot of years deferring to others’ judgement. They must know better, they’re the boss. That works for me at first. I’ve gotten a lot of experience and ideas working for others in jobs that I’ve truly loved. But inevitably in every situation, things change. I learn more, I get more confident in what I’m doing and I figure out “my” way to do what I do. If that conflicts with the “way it’s done,” I can’t really be happy bending to a way that isn’t “right” to me.
The people who’ve taught and inspired me are still smart and inspirational but as I grow, my perspective changes, or the business changes in ways that don’t fit me anymore. Eventually I move on to something else that I hope will suit me better.
What I’ve been doing all along is try to create my own thing inside the walls of something else. That makes no sense. If I had stopped along the way to really look at what is important to me, I would have realized much sooner that the only thing that will suit me “right” is building my own. So now I’m officially an entrepreneur following my passion.
Any business owner is used to wearing a variety of hats – owner, manager, clerk, cashier, waiter, janitor…at some point you do it all. You know it’s not ideal for you to be taking out the trash when you could be developing new business, but it happens from time to time.
This is another in the “learn from Angie’s experience” meme. And in this blog, “experience” will sometimes be a euphemism for “well-meaning but sometimes colossally bone-headed mistakes/flaws”. Hey, at least I learn from them, right?
I have to check myself when I start doing anything. And I ask myself, could someone else do this as well? And if not as well, well enough? Cheaper? While I do something as/more important? I’m one of those who defaults to, “I’ll do it.” Well, when you say that 300 times a day, it’s hard to do anything and you end up with a wall of projects hanging over your head and people needing things. It’s not good, so I don’t do that anymore.
I’ve struggled with how to get this started; what topic should I fire across the bow to begin this battle to build a new business in a tough economy. I realized two things, finally. It didn’t matter how, as long I just started and provided value. Which is the first lesson in business for me – I always try to do things “right” and the truth is, there is no right. There is “works” and “doesn’t work.” “Value” and “no value.” Right doesn’t matter.
When you’re evaluating anything that you put out into the world, the answer to “is there value here?” is really everything.