My wife, Linda, and I just returned from a five-day trip to Colorado. We were there attending the graduation of my son Jonathan (third in a series; collect them all) from the University of Denver.
As usual, on our visits to Denver, one thing in particular stood out for me: the intensity of the sun.
It was certainly hot while we were there – one day it reached 99 degrees (that’s 1,200 hectares, for those of you on the metric system) – but that’s not what I’m talking about.
The thing I always find striking is the tremendous difference between standing in the sun and standing in the shade. In Denver, a mile above sea level, I spend most of my outdoor time avoiding the former and seeking the latter.
Not that it really makes sense to me. Given that the sun is 93 million miles away, you’d think that being just one mile closer wouldn’t matter (yes, as a matter of fact, I do have a liberal arts degree). But, atmospherically-speaking, small things can make a big difference.
The same goes for your business. We tend to focus on the big pieces (understandably). But some of the less obvious things can have just as large an impact.
Here are three subtle, often overlooked things I recommend in the interest of improving your business…
#1. Fix the small annoyances.
Your office chair is broken, your computer files are disorganized, your printer is in the other room and it only works on Tuesdays. Whatever.
None of these things are terribly inconvenient – that’s why we never bother to fix them. But they slow us down and distract us from whatever it is we are trying to accomplish.
In my case, for example, when I began recording short LinkedIn videos recently, I was propping up my phone on a shelf and I had to crouch to get my head in the picture. It sort of worked, but when I finally bought a $25 thing to hold my phone, the entire process became easier and more enjoyable.
These aren’t deal-breakers, but they are energy-sappers all the same.
#2. Figure out and sell what you are really, really good at.
I don’t mean what you are capable of doing – I mean what you are better at doing than anyone you can think of.
It’s not easy to pinpoint this, since the things we are naturally good at tend to come fairly easily to us.
For starters, try thinking about the kinds of challenges/situations that friends and relatives already turn to you for. Are you exceptionally good at mediating disputes, connecting with children, troubleshooting gadgets, explaining technology?
None of these are business ideas in and of themselves. But if you figure out what your special gift is – and can build a business around it – that’s gold.
It separates you from the pack of people who occupy the same profession, and it leads to work that you enjoy and excel at.
#3. Stop working with people you don’t like.
I don’t have a single client that I don’t like and trust.
Which means that I don’t dread phone calls, I never worry about getting paid, and I spend zero time stressing about what they might be thinking, doing, or plotting. I just enjoy hanging around with them and along the way we do some work.
But I understand, this one can seem hard to accomplish, especially if you feel like you don’t have enough work to begin with.
The thing is, when you remove the people who cause you angst, everything changes. You do better work with less effort, and more of it comes your way.
And, it’s worth noting, it’s very much connected to #2 above.
When you are doing what you are really good at, you are much harder to replace. Clients and prospects come to see you as a one-off with no comparable alternatives, giving you more choice about who you work with.
Here’s the bottom line.
If you want to want to work with people you don’t like, doing things you’re not uniquely good at, in an environment filled with daily annoyances … get a job. They toss all that in at no extra charge.
When you work for yourself, you get to choose everything.
And these small, subtle things – things that may seem secondary to “the work” – have huge implications for how successful and happy you will be.
Of course, I may have just been standing in the sun too long.
- What’s your favorite outdoor restaurant?
- Does your printer work on Tuesdays?
- Have you fixed a small annoyance in your business? Give examples.
Share your answers below…