Being a small business owner is a revealing experience. Don’t like asking for money? Oops, your trade debtors is out of control! Scared to hand over control? Oops, you’re working 70 hour weeks. Defensive about criticism? Ouch, people don’t stop complaining! Think you can’t mix with the big boys? Oh look, I’m swimming with the minnows! Can’t admit you’re wrong? Yikes – flogging a dead horse!
There aren’t many business owners who haven’t seen their strengths, weaknesses and beliefs writ large across their business.
The good news is that the way business holds a mirror to our foibles provides an excellent opportunity to transcend them. Trader debtors out of control? Great – time to get over asking for money. Working 70 hour weeks? Great – time to start trusting others. And so on – you get the picture.
Dig a little deeper and business throws up some highly interesting insights into the human condition. In a nutshell, business is about risk but human nature is deeply risk averse.
This basic conundrum is played out all over business. In marketing, there is huge value in being utterly different, yet most businesses look the same. In sales, we talk about what we know – our product and it’s benefits, rather than explore the unknown – what the customer wants and thinks, what makes them tick.
In management we dictate rather than collaborate. Delivering our product we tend stick with ‘our way’, not because it is more efficient or delivers higher quality but because we know it, we are not required to innovate. And planning the future, we tend not to invest because investment means – you guessed it – risk.
So business challenges us to fly in the face of our natural instincts, change our habits and let go of closely guarded beliefs, which reminds me of Crunchers motto: Grow, Be Free, Have Fun!