As women business owners, running our business is often like teenage dating
When I was 16, I dated a guy who I shall refer to as Mr. Boyfriend. For the holidays, we thought we would get creative and save money by making each other gifts. I spent hours upon hours typing up summaries of every date we had ever taken. I then put them in a scrapbook with pictures and memorabilia from our six-month relationship.
In return, I received a pillowcase with “Mr. Boyfriend loves CW” (my initials prior to getting married) ironed onto it and a handmade voodoo doll. I understood the pillowcase, but I was a little confused about the doll and slightly concerned that he was stuffed with dirty socks. Mr. Boyfriend explained that the voodoo doll was to be the recipient of any anger I had toward him. If I ever felt that something was going awry in our relationship, I was to poke this doll and Mr. Boyfriend would feel the pain. He said he would accept the blame and using the doll would prevent us from fighting. I had no idea how he even came up with this idea or if having the doll worked on any level, but we dated another six months. He didn’t win any points for being the most romantic boyfriend, but he definitively gave me the most creative gift I’ve ever received. Fast forward to recently……We are getting ready to tear down our basement for remodeling. I started going through some boxes and found the voodoo doll. FYI – He doesn’t stink, even after all these years, so I’m guessing he was stuffed with clean socks. I started wondering why I still have the doll. The relationship didn’t work out, but I don’t have any ill feelings toward Mr. Boyfriend. I do have some fond memories of dating him, but this doll serves no purpose in my life now. As women business owners, running our business is often like teenage dating. We get involved in situations that we may not completely understand. We try new things and enter into partnerships not knowing what the results will be. We are constantly learning and always taking risks. We often feel alone, shouldering all the responsibility to grow and maintain our business, just like teenagers often do when they are “so in love” and their partner doesn’t reciprocate with the same level of affection and enthusiasm. We often have difficulty figuring out when it’s time to make a change. When you’re a teenager, it’s often easy to blame a girlfriend/boyfriend, parents, distance or a situation for the failed relationship. As women business owners, we don’t have the option to play the blame game. Blaming someone else won’t get you ahead, fix the problem, or help you find a solution. When something goes wrong in our business, we can’t grab a voodoo doll, poke a few holes in it and expect our problems to disappear. Seeking vengeance isn’t an option. Ignoring the problem isn’t either. Toss your voodoo dolls to the side. Stop playing the blame game. If something isn’t working in your business, organize a strategy to find the right solutions in the shortest amount of time.
- Identify what action or process isn’t working. Are you sending out 30 e-mails a month and getting numerous “unsubscribes” from your list?
- How is the problem affecting your business? Are you losing money, wasting time, or damaging relationships?
- If you stop doing whatever is causing the problem, will any additional issues surface? If yes, you need to find an another solution to help you reach your goal without causing another damaging outcome. If you stop sending e-mails altogether, will you lose your audience? Maybe it makes sense to survey your audience to see how often they would like to receive your updates.
- Whatever solutions you consider should be easy to maintain. In the world of organizing, it is often more time consuming to set up a new organizational system than it is to dump stuff on the floor. The goal of any good system or process is to have an uncomplicated maintenance plan. Don’t be afraid to put a little effort in on the front end to prevent problems from reoccurring.
- After making adjustments, evaluate what results you’re getting from your new solution. Continue to make minor changes until you and your clients are satisfied.
- Let go! Let go of any frustration, anger or bitterness over the time and money you lost working through your problem. Chances are that you’ll survive the chaos just fine, just as you muddled through teenage dating.
Know when something–a process, a person or a product–no longer serves you or your business. Let go and leave the blame behind you.