Is Your Screwed Up Business Thinking Causing You Trouble? Part 1
We run our businesses doing the best we can with what we know. We’re dealing with what the elements throw our way ducking and dodging hoping for the best. We try new things. We get creative looking to grow our business past survival to something more.
It’s what we business owners do.
Our blind spots can be a problem here. We can’t know everything so we often take (or don’t take) steps that make things worse. The cause is we haven’t yet learned the lessons people that have faced and overcome our problems have gotten.
But sometimes we have a bigger problem. We need much more than adjustments to get past a roadblock. We need to change how we think about our business and how we address the problem that badly needs addressing. In this case, the challenge is we need to fundamentally transform the way we think about our business. We have to take a big step to embrace an opportunity or someone does and we completely miss out.
In early 2011, right as I incorporated my Larry Jacob, Inc. Internet marketing firm, I had two major “Ah Hahs.” These were just, “Oh, this is a nice idea.” These were revelations that transformed me personally and enabled me to make changes I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to make.
My little business was a website development side hustle. I was working a full-time job and these were afterhours side gigs to help pay the bills. A business owner found me asking if I could build some web forms on his website using this new tool he had bought. It was Infusionsoft. I had never heard of it but thought, “How hard could it be?’
I never closed any business with the guy, but that was a big discovery for me. Delivering the kind of solutions I already built using this new Infusionsoft was so much easier. It also gave me power features that made better solutions possible. It was a real game-changer.
If you know my practice, you know over 80% of our work is for Infusionsoft users. But that wasn’t my big mental transformation or shift. It’s what that Infusionsoft discovery led to next.
I was having coffee with a business coach I knew and I was all excited about this new discovery. I remember telling her Infusionsoft’s InfusionCon 11 user group meeting was coming up. I said, “If I sell this next website deal, I’m going to register to attend.” I told her I would surely meet potential customers and find out how to use this tool like a real pro.
Her response came quickly. She said, “If this is a priceless opportunity, you go and register. You cannot make attending that event dependent on a deal that may not happen.”
At the time, things were REALLY tight. I had gone through several job losses. Expenses at home with my wife and three daughters were high. We weren’t making ends meet. What added to my way of thinking is that I’m an engineer. I’m logical, maybe to a fault, in my thinking. I calculate my expenses. I’m very conservative working hard to keep expenses below income at all cost. I don’t like taking chances.
My coach’s comment really struck me. It seemed novel. I had been looking at my side hustle like a series of small gigs that brought in some money. I hadn’t been seeing it as a business that needed planning, strategic thinking and investments to enable it to grow.
I’m reading this now thinking, “That was really stupid.” But at the time, I was stepping along cautiously and not treating my business like a business. It could be because of my immigrant family upbringing from great people who had to be frugal and careful in their spending. It could be my engineering and calculated thinking. Who knows? What I can tell you is that light bulb moment transformed me.
I did register and attend the event. That then led me to a second even bigger transformational moment that along with this first one set me on a path that’s led me to the successful business I have today.
Watch out on part 2 where I elaborate on all that happened next.