Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results – Albert Einstein. I have heard this quote over and over again (I am sure you have too), and for a long time I did not think it applied to me. I am an attorney for goodness sake! I know how to change things, adapt, and make things work on my behalf. Or so I thought. Then I realized, twelve years after starting my law firm, I was not much further along than when I started.
On paper things looked different, but they really were not. I was making more money, but the same problems that persisted when I started continued to haunt me. Why? The truth was, I really had not changed. I really was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Are you the biggest problem in your business?
Self-awareness leads to real change. As business owners, we know what we do very well. We think we have all of the answers about what customers want and how they want it but we don’t. We think that we have all the answers and know what really matters in our business. We also tend to be know-it-alls and ignore sound advice. It is not until you realize that you, not the business or the customers are the problem can you really begin to make changes in your business.
I have a client that is always in financial trouble. Not the kind of trouble that is created from lack of customers, but the self-created kind. He creates multiple businesses and heavily finances each of them. He finds other people to manage each but ultimately some state fine ore tax problem comes up. They always tend to cost his business hundreds of thousands of dollars. Why, because he doesn’t pay attention to his business. It did not matter what the business was or who was managing it. The truth is that his failure to properly manage and ensure that these matters were properly handled lead to the repeated problem. He was doing the same thing with different businesses and it has continually led to the same results.
Who is holding you accountable?
Years ago, I would set goals at the beginning of the year. It was a one year plan of goals I intended to achieve. To be honest, it really was not much of a plan. I had no idea of how I was going to achieve those goals. I just set them. The next time I would look at the plan would be the next year that I wanted to set goals. Most of the goals for the previous year were not met so after a while I stopped making plans and setting goals.
Years later, I realized that I was on the right track. I just did not have any way to hold myself accountable to my own goals. I also had no knowledge of what I needed to do to get there. I bought books and listened to tapes (I know I am dating myself), I attended seminars, but I still did not achieve what I set out to achieve. That is because I had no one to answer to but myself. If I did not hit my goals, who was going to whip me into shape? I was wasting time and money doing the “right” things, but getting the wrong results.
Are you really insane?
As business owners, we do the best we can. Sometimes life and business issues take over and really only react to the things that are happening and fail to plan for the things that need to happen. When you stop to assess the situation, you will find that you know where you need to go, you just need a little help to get you there. Once you realize that you continue to experience the same problems over and over again, get help; listen to the advice given and create a community of people who will hold you accountable.
Stop doing things by yourself thinking that you have to know everything. Yes, you have to educate yourself on various business issues. But you also have to implement those things that you learn about to make any real change. Your business is stuck because you are stuck. Find a community of business owners that you can discuss issues and problems with. Get a business coach or hire a professional whose business is about making your business better. Seek real change, don’t go insane!
Shahara Wright is an experienced and highly sought after business law attorney and business strategist. She is the author of From Entrepreneur to CEO and host of the CEO Collaboration Circle. Shahara founded The CEO Effect, LLC to work with small business owners who want to implement strategy to build capacity.