Adrian Monk is one of my favorite characters on television, probably because my husband resembles him so much … everything has to be “just so”! I catch reruns of “Monk” on the tube at least once a week, and I love how he uses his OCD mind, which is truly detail-oriented, to solve crimes. It has occurred to me more than once that small business owners could benefit from a little Monkishness to create a more efficient and productive business.
Small Business Owners and Adrian Monk
It’s true that Monk’s OCD tends to hinder rather than help him on a daily basis, since he spends so much time staying sanitary and clean. However, his “devil is in the details” approach is pretty useful for the small business owner.
Here is something to think about:
One of the most successful businessmen I have ever had the pleasure to talk to, Bob Block, credits his success in great part to his practice of developing five ideas per day to improve his businesses.
This is a practice he developed when he was just starting out as a salesperson in a mid-western state. He would think of five ideas, every single day, for improving his business.
While he admits that most of the ideas were worthless (about 95% of them), the few that were valuable were fairly priceless.
As the economy slides headlong into the dumper, it amazes me to watch small business owners continue to spend money on stupid stuff … just because they can or just because they always have. I can make this statement with impunity because I’m one of them!
What Constitutes “Stupid Stuff” in a Cash-Poor Economy?
So let me clarify what I mean by “stupid stuff.” Stupid stuff equals goods and services that your small business used to buy but, in today’s economy, which it can no longer afford.
I’m kind of a manic-depressive small business owner, sometimes super-focused and other times distracted to pieces … not a good personality type for running a small business. I figured this out about myself a long time ago and realized that the only way I would ever succeed in small business is to become this:
An efficient little twerp.
What’s an Efficient Little Twerp?
“Efficient little twerp” is the phrase a friend recently used to describe me in the way that I run my small businesses. Being an efficient little twerp is how I manage to be successful in my small businesses despite my major personality flaws, and boils down to three things:
So there is a small business guy around here I really admire – Mike of All Wet Sprinklers. This economy has been just as tough on Mike as on every other small business owner. People are slamming their wallets shut, and fewer people want new sprinkler systems installed on their properties.
So Mike, being the totally ingenious Italian dude that he is, decided that he would expand the services his small businesses offered so he could get more work. The sprinkler system market was shrinking, so Mike decided to expand into other markets, including landscaping, masonry, supplying firewood, and dog walking (actually, I’m not sure if he actually walks dogs or he’s just pulling my leg).
There’s no doubt that most organizations, from small businesses to large corporations, are struggling. It’s been a darn hard time for most people. And yet giving up just really isn’t an option for many small business owners since the job market doesn’t offer a lot of hope and many retirement plans have suffered serious setbacks.
But even though the economic situation is less than perfect, it does present us small business owners with a perfect opportunity to ask some penetrating questions. It allows us to ask ourselves what is important about our small businesses. It helps us remember why we started our small businesses, and determine whether those reasons are still important to us.
A while back I wrote a blog post on finding a great accountant for your small business. Recently, I decided to take my own advice. I have used the same accounting service for almost a decade, and have always had a great relationship with them.
However, I found that as my small business focus shifted away from a “bricks and mortar” city environment to an online environment mixed with country living, I needed an accountant with different specialties and skills.
Where to Find a Good Small Business Accountant
I’m of the generation who “Googles” everything first. It hardly ever occurs to me to peel open a phone book if online access is just a few clicks away. Digging around on Google, I found several “accountant search” sites, and entered my request on several. Most sites asked for the following information:
It pays to be a maverick these days because nothing seems to work like it used to. Sure, a lot of people are doing their best ostrich act, sticking their heads in the sand and hoping that when the alarm beeps in the morning the world will have returned to its normal order.
Not gonna happen, folks. “Business as usual” isn’t going to cut the mustard in this new economy, this time of prolonged uncertainty. By the way, did you know that prolonged uncertainty is one of the greatest causes of stress a human being can suffer? They’ve done studies that prove it. So here we are, in a time of prolonged uncertainty, and we are, well, uncertain.
Time is one of the most precious commodities for a small business owner. Between business development, client work, employee or contract worker management, marketing, and fire-fighting, there’s hardly enough time for coffee and bathroom breaks.
In fact, recent studies show that time management issues are among the main obstacles to small business owners being successful and keeping the doors to their businesses open. So what’s a small business owner to do? Here are some time management tips I recently gathered from a workshop sponsored by my local chamber of commerce.
Doing a dreaded task once a week is a big time key to success in business and in life. Now don’t get me wrong … most of the time I’m a huge believer in positive thinking and an enthusiastic outlook on life. But, like most people, there are certain tasks associated with my business that I dread. I’d rather muck horse manure for 8 hours straight than do some of these tasks. I’d rather join Mike Rowe for a stint on “Dirty Jobs” than tackle these dreaded tasks. And that’s silly, considering that most of these tasks take an hour or two to complete. Can you say procrastination?