Why “Don’t Cheat Yourself” is a Small Business Mantra

by / Monday, 21 July 2014 / Published in Small Business Advice

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In elementary school, one of my teachers stood out, with a can do attitude and an easy smile. She would encourage us during the hardest parts of our studies, reminding us not to cheat ourselves. What she meant by this was taking the easy way out, while often a tempting option, cheats your future self of the benefits of the learning experience. The toughest struggles can stand in front of us seeming as impassible as a cliff face. It’s only after struggling up that incline step by step, pulling ourselves along as needed, that we can arrive at the other side of a dilemma with the full benefit of the experience behind us. This hard won learning usually teaches the most worthwhile lessons in our lives, and thanks to the difficulty inherent in gaining it it is also the last to be forgotten.

How small business owners can avoid cheating themselves. A common deterrent to trying something new is not only the fear that things won’t work out, but the comfortable feeling of sticking to a routine. Business owners, for all their ability to make decisions and take risks, are not invulnerable to this common pitfall. Especially when things are working out relatively well, business owners can begin to feel like they no longer need to adapt to or anticipate change, preferring the feeling of sticking to something that they already have. In this sense, they are cheating themselves of the potential that they have to build their business.

  • Make the effort to do things the right way. If you know that you could make some part of your business a little bit better if you just applied some more effort, then you should go the extra mile to make that change. Getting in the habit of letting things go that you know are wrong runs the risk of having the same bad habits kick in when something is really on the line.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions about your business. If something goes wrong within a small business, it can be very difficult to diagnose if the answer is not immediately apparent. The reason is because nobody wants to admit when something is fundamentally broken, but only once that difficult admission is made can real work be put in to fixing it.

Sharing a positive attitude with your employees. The benefits of a positive and open mindset go beyond simply helping yourself. By serving as an example regarding challenge, business owners can be more than just managers to their employees, showcasing the skills and openness of a true leader. It is often the case that a business’s employees will adapt to reflect their managers, so for that reason small business owners also have it in their best interest to serve as the best possible example to their staff.

Photo Credit to Adam Kubalica on Flickr

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