Last Tuesday, I dreamt of flashing yellow lights. When I woke up the next morning, I was sure the dream was a warning of ominous things to come. I must have really been in tune with the cosmos because the next 24 hours were plain lousy. Rather than cowering under my desk, I reminded myself of my three philosophies of small business ownership.
1. The Theory of Abundance. Thisone is actually a sales technique I learned from Indianapolis-based sales trainer Bill Caskey. In a nutshell, the theory of abundance works like this: If you go into a new situation out of desperation or feeling you are going to fail, you will. On the flip side, if you approach each new opportunity with a willingness to walk away if it isn’t a good match – or to let the customer walk – then you will truly get the business that is right for you.
This requires a lot of confidence and willpower. It is hard to know what kind of work or customers you want and even harder to say no to the kind you don’t want. When you live by the Theory, you save hours of frustration chasing business and competing just to win. Instead you do good work for the right customers and everybody is happier.
2. Start at the Finish Line. The best runners don’t just run. They know how many steps it takes to reach the finish line. Then they work on getting a good jump at the starting line so they can cross it first. This is a good philosophy for the day-to-day of running a business. What is your goal this week? This year? It could be paying your mortgage. Making payroll. Purchasing a new piece of software or machinery. If you know what you are working for, you will make smarter decisions in order to get there.
3. Close Your Eyes and Jump. I am a planner by nature. I keep my Franklin Covey very close. I prioritize my tasks every morning. I have a business plan and I read my P&L statements. Being a Boy Scout about my business is important so I can be prepared for the downturns of the economy, the lost clients and the natural ebb and flow of business. However, I know real success comes not from sitting around planning but by taking a deep breath and stepping off the ledge. You often do your best work when you just get to work.
So even though I hit a personal oil spill last week, I got back to work with the belief that better days are ahead. Once again it helped. Often the simplest philosophies can make the most profound difference. If you are struggling with your business, maybe it is time to re-think how you are going to approach the next set of neon yellow lights you will ultimately face.