How to Strangle Your Business

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iStock_000009257797XSmallIt’s pretty easy to strangle your business, and I’ll bet you do it automatically – in fact, it’s probably hard for you to not do it.

My old accountant used to tell me, and he’d illustrate it with a yucky twisting of his fists, “Don’t strangle the goose that lays the golden egg.” All I could think about was that invisible goose choking to death on his desk, and I wasn’t paying any attention to what he meant.

I’m not even sure how he really meant it, because all he ever wanted to talk about was accounting and I always zoned out during those conversations, but the goose did become a metaphor for me. It took me outside of my business and I started to think of it as something separate from me, instead of part of me.

I could look at the goose (a pretty, live one, not the dead one) and say, “That’s my business, and I want to keep it healthy.” I could stand back and look at it, and say, “Gol–ly, look at that! I made something.” I started to think of it as a living, breathing thing, with its own needs, something that needed to be cared for, and also as something that I could screw up if I wasn’t careful. But the point is, it wasn’t me.

And I came pretty close to strangling that living thing. Here’s how:

1. Doing everything my way
I almost strangled my business by insisting that everything be done my way. I’m sure you know what I mean, right? It was my business, so things should be done the way I thought they should. That’s what made it work. That’s why people hired me. I drove myself crazy doing everything, and then re-doing everything my staff did, too. You’d have hated working for me then – I’d stay late so I could go around to everyone’s drawing tables and redo their work. It drove me nuts if any of the work that left our shop didn’t look like I did it – I thought I was letting my clients down if it didn’t have my stamp on it.

2. Not seeking advice
I almost strangled my business by insisting on going it alone. This was really crazy. But I was young and didn’t know that it was okay to not know everything – I absolutely thought I had to know everything, or put up a good front that I did. I would not admit that I might need help learning how to run a business, even when I was completely lost. I pretended for a long time, then worried that people would see through me. Now don’t you pretend that this isn’t you, too – for some reason, we all see world-class performers like Tiger Woods, Yo-Yo Ma, and President Obama with their coaches, teachers, and advisors, but we lowly entrepreneurs pigheadedly think we should go it alone, and we make tons of mistakes. It’s insanity.

3. Not surrounding myself with peers

I almost strangled my business by isolating myself, and it, from people who knew what I was going through. I networked with clients and prospects and got out there and glad-handed, but I didn’t say a peep to anyone who actually had a business like mine – heck, they were the competition. Or they might find out I didn’t know what I was doing. So I didn’t have a support system for a long time, no one to really talk to about what it’s like or to ask how they handled something, or even to find out I wasn’t alone.

So all that’s in the past for me. I can look at my goose now and say that I was lucky enough to wise up, figure a few things out about her, loosen my grip, and help her to breathe.

So take a look at your goose now, before she ends up choking on some accountant’s desk. Let’s do a Laser Coaching Session, okay?

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