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Productivity / Performance

Are you sabotaging your success?

Diligence and attention to detail are great qualities in a small business owner. But a preoccupation with perfecting process and too much fine tuning can sabotage our success.

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As small business owners, it makes good, practical sense to need to keep our feet on the ground and be sensible about how we operate and grow our businesses. I believe we need to be efficient in our responses and realistic in our offerings, expectations and plans.

However  I’ve observed many cases where this ‘feet on the ground’ behavourial style is accompanied by an altogether unhelpful pattern I refer to as ‘feet buried in the ground’. Let me explain.

Sometimes in our bid to make everything as near ideal as possible – whether it be something major like preparation for a new business or product launch, or relatively minor like the introduction of a new strategy or process – we can become consumed in the pursuit for perfection and end up getting stuck in a spiral of ineffectiveness and navel gazing.

This behaviour is particularly prevalent in the group of soloists we may term ‘corporate escapees’.

These are the people who are used to having high levels of structure and teams of support people all working together to research and develop their respective part of the jigsaw. Take that structure away and the result can be a virtual freezing (or at the very least an undue delay) of meaningful activity.

Aside from this explanation, other contributors to the ‘feet in the ground’ behaviour are fear and doubt. It’s inevitable that we find ourselves in positions where we are unsure or fearful of an action – just try evolving a business without confronting unsettling change to some degree!

Here again a common response is to get buried in perfecting, fine tuning, endless testing and pontificating, when what’s really needed is action.

Let’s look at some simple steps to avoid this trap:

1. Be reasonable at the outset

Whenever we’re about to plan and develop a new project or action, it can be a good strategy to look at what might be a ‘reasonable’ timeline. Set a date at the beginning and plan milestones along the way. At each milestone look again at the end date and do not allow it to slip without really good reason.

2. Look beyond the planning to the actions

When we’re buried in the development stage it’s easy to overlook the importance of actions – the actions that will actually bring about the change we’re looking for.

Throughout the development phase keep the ‘end actions’ in mind.

3. Stay loose

Whenever your feet are buried (or you can see it happening to someone around you) loosen up and just remind yourself what’s really happening here. Certainly if you’re pioneering a new form of brain surgery you can be forgiven for wanting to get things 100% right; for the rest of us, let’s get out from under the desk and get to market!

I’m not advocating that near enough is good enough; rather that good enough is good enough.

Stop with the fussing, get into action and keep the spark of love alive in your work.

Robert Gerrish

is the founder of Flying Solo and helps soloists stay upbeat and energised. He’s recently published The 1-Minute Commute, is a presenter and facilitator and works one-on-one with those needing a refresh. Find out more about his skills and services and his Olympus Trip 35 camera side hustle or connect on LinkedIn.

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