Wellbeing / Business values

Business principles: The idealism trap

It is easy for soloists, particularly new ones, to be aggressively attached to their beliefs and business principles. But what if those beliefs are too limiting?


This characterises the Idealism Trap, along with a dogged pursuit of lofty ideals, while dismissing the positives of reality and others’ beliefs.

This inevitably results in lost opportunities. Socially, this is known as possessing “limiting beliefs”.

Many new solopreneurs have come from the corporate world where values and beliefs were not quite aligned with those of our former employers. We are determined to make things work for us our own way and prove to the suits that there is an alternative approach to business principles.

Proving a moral point in business is absolutely impressive and necessary. And who better to do it than solopreneurs? Many have endeavoured to correct the moral shortcomings of their former employers and have done an amazing job.

However, over time, it can be far too easy for us to get totally consumed with our own ideals while ignoring the positives and wisdom of other less “acceptable” beliefs or business principles. As a result, we fall short of making our point in the desired manner.

"Over time, it can be far too easy for us to get totally consumed with our own ideals while ignoring the positives and wisdom of other less “acceptable” beliefs or business principles."

This comes as a consequence of falling into the idealism trap. And this can result in us not being as fulfilled or as happy with our careers as we would like.

As an example, a solopreneur client of ours we were recently working with was keen to spread the word about her exciting new venture. We suggested that she consider an email newsletter because she had vast amounts of intellectual property that would be of significant value to any reader in her industry. She passionately declined to even consider the option. Curious, we probed. She responded by telling us a story about her former employer who used to dump volumes of promotional material via email to people who hadn’t even requested it. She went on to tell us about the eruption of complaints that flooded the company as a result. The experience tarnished her faith in online marketing. She vowed never to adopt the practice in her business. While sympathetic, we were still perplexed.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business values section.

After a long conversation, we started to enlighten her about the sheer power and potential of online marketing and, when used honorably, how it could work wonders for her business. It took a little while, but once we explored the technique blow-by-blow and how we could make it work with her business and her morals, she was delighted and couldn’t believe she nearly lost one of the most vital channels to gain the type of exposure that would have taken her decades to achieve otherwise.

She can now let people know how to use online marketing in a more responsible and proiftable manner thus making people more likely to respect and adopt her ideals and practices. This is obviously much more significant than doing nothing at all.

It is absolutely imperative to continually keep in-check with reality (or what is widely accepted as being “real”). Here are some business principles to make sure you’re not drifting too far into the land of lofty ideals:

  • Look at the people or other organisations who are doing the things you dissaprove. List three wise things about the technique and their belief. List precisely how those three things could work well for your business.
  • Adopt advisors (paid or unpaid) who like to keep things “real” and have them make suggestions on ways you can improve your business. It’s great if they understand your beliefs but more important for them to have their own. They must be generally optimsistic.
  • List the things you could potentially lose if you were to stick to your guns with all your beliefs. Are they really worth it? Really?
  • Ask yourself: Would you do better to creatively combine your beliefs with something you would normally dissaprove of? Would this help you make your point sooner and on a larger scale?

Dreams and ideals are wonderful things to have especially when we want to make a difference, and be fulfilled. But they can work against us in many ways if we are blinded by them. We, and the rest of the world, have more to gain if we sometimes combine our ideals with things we dismsiss as being “wrong”.

Paul J. Morris

, as a User Experience Designer, ensures that it is delightfully easy for users to accomplish their desired tasks on websites or smartphone apps, leading to increased sales, customer retention and referrals.


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