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Friday, July 22, 2011

Positive Leadership: Are You Focusing on the Wrong Part of Your Business?

It is now more than three years since the economy took a nosedive. For most small businesses, this has been even more challenging than previous recessions because we have also had to deal with the real estate collapse, a credit crisis and changes in the marketplace brought on by the Internet and other forces. Not an easy time. And there is not much evidence of a bounce back coming soon. Perhaps it is time to reassess.

First of all, Einstein had it wrong. Not his theory of relativity. That seems to be holding up quite well. But he’s also the man who said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Too often, that’s really the definition of small business.

Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is not necessarily insane; conditions change and business is not a perfect science. That said, this is the way a lot of small-business owners tend to operate. Whether it is continuing to hire the wrong people because of a bad hiring protocol, sticking with the same marketing plan even though it isn’t working or thinking we are going to become more profitable by under-pricing our competition, many business owners stick to what they have become comfortable doing and hope it will start producing better results. Why? No doubt it has something to do with the perseverance and optimism that got us into this in the first place. No doubt it has something to do with our willingness to work hard. But sometimes working smart is more important than working hard.

Small business owners need to go where the money is, instead of doing business as usual. That’s because there is no such thing anymore as ‘business as usual’.

So, perhaps you need to spend more time on new opportunities and what’s working and less time trying to push things that are stuck. We talk to business owners all of the time, and we frequently hear comments like “we are holding our own” or “things are slowly getting better.” Most people we know are not making expansion plans. Avoiding risk is the new black. It has been a very sobering and scary three years.

And that’s way it is tempting to stay with a bunker mentality, especially if you follow the economic news. Every day, it seems, there is another crisis. But if your business is stable, and your debt is under control, and you can afford to take some calculated risks, this might be the time to get out of the bunker and try to get ahead of the pack.

Now might be the time to plant new seeds for future crops. Carefully.