Your business can come down with maladies, wheezing and coughing and not functioning as well as it can. The infection can spread until multiple parts of your business are affected.
You can cure them if you make the right diagnosis and take action.
Bug #1. Nostrategitis. Lack of strategy is a common ailment among small businesses. It’s common because nobody teaches strategy for small business. There’s so much focus on action that no one tells you to take the time to think about the big picture.
This is where a focus on the impact you want to have, the positive contribution you want to make in your business, community, and beyond comes in. When you have clarity on the impact you want to have, it gives you the focus you need to create a coherent, high functioning business. You end up with a strategy and business that are aligned with your values and how you want to show up in the world.
The Cure: Step back from doing and look at the big picture. Start by giving thought to the impact you want to have. Ask yourself good questions: does this thing I want to do help me to have that impact? Is what I’m planning going to align with other things I’m doing in my business and will it help me reach my goals?
Bug #2. Slow-to-reactivitis. Oh the slow spread of inaction, waiting to see what happens. Maybe things will improve. Maybe I’ll get more clarity about what to do next.
This is where the optimism that most entrepreneurs have in spades fails us. You might be thinking: Well, it should work! That expert over there said so.
Truth: every business is different. Be prepared to tweak your own business as needed.
The Cure: When something’s not working, take action sooner rather than later. You can prevent the spread of the infection by facing the reality of what’s not reaching your expectations. Call that experiment done and failed (it’s not you that’s failed, it’s the experiment!). Do some research, talk to someone who knows, and decide on new action.
Bug #3. Anti-trackingitis. This secondary infection really helps other bugs grow. Bug #2 really takes hold when you have no solid data to base your next moves on. Inaction spreads because of the vacuum created by no real information.
The Cure: To help you in determining the extent of the illness so you can take the cure for Bug #2 above, track your important outcomes. Take your medicine, even if numbers aren’t your thing. These data will be what bring you out of the funk, if you’re willing to look at them with a critical eye.
Bug #4. Icandothisalone disease. Oh the myth of the intrepid and lone adventurer! Being an entrepreneur has its own romance to it: the crusading figure out to conquer whatever field you’re in. Making headway by sheer grit and determination.
MYTH!! There isn’t an entrepreneur alive or dead who has made a success of their business without the help of others. And I mean serious help.
The Cure: Excise the myth. Just cut it out. One of the great joys of having your own business is the creative company you get to keep. That includes your clients, your team, and any other business owners who accompany you in this treatment. Work on building and nurturing those relationships.
Bug #5. Worktilyoudropitis. Whether your business is doing well or doing poorly, you can fall victim to this condition: working too hard.
When you’re focused on your impact and things are going well, you can become so engaged that you lose sight of the big picture and neglect other aspects of your life.
And when you’re struggling, you can be tempted to throw more work at the problem.
The Cure: Clarify what’s most important to you and organize your life and work around that. Determine if the extra time you’re spending actually results in better outcomes.
Take breaks in your day, your week, and your month. Rejuvenate by having fun, eating well, and exercising. Bring more fun into your business with creative approaches and a focus on what you really love to do. As much as possible, let others do the rest.
Not to carry the metaphor too disgustingly far, your business can be under the weather from the creeping crud. These common infectious diseases of small business can take hold, if you don’t put the cures to work.