Get Out!

1 of 5 Signs That You Need to Step Back and Regroup

I’m trying to make a point of listening to my own advice more often these days. I recently re-read a proposal I wrote for a client some months ago. She was starting a new business and needed a marketing strategy. It had to be cheap because she was bootstrapping. It had to be easily implemented because she was going to do it herself. It had to be effective because for both of those reasons she’d given herself a deadline for success (after which she’d cut back her business efforts and return to her day job).

Sign #1 Reads: Other People Should Be Doing…

I wrote up a strategy that met all of those requirements and gave her a little extra in case her comfort level increased before her budget did. As I was researching and writing I remember thinking several times, “Ooh, that would work for me, too. Why aren’t I doing that?” I didn’t have a good answer, so I told myself that I would definitely incorporate those ideas into my own strategy as soon as I completed hers.

I’ll get right on that…

Months have passed since then (I’m ashamed to admit how many.), and most of those good ideas are still sitting in a file in my computer whittling ducks and waiting. Now that I think about it, those aren’t the only good ideas I’ve filed in my computer and failed to follow up on. Could the problems I’ve been having with my computer be caused by circuits clogged with wooden ducks? I’ll have to check into that.

If you’re asking, “Why ducks?”, well…that’s another story. For now let’s just leave it at, I like ducks.

Getting back to the point, I’m sure I’m sure I’m not the only one with files full of ducks. It’s easy to see what other people are doing wrong or failing to do. It’s the whole log and speck scenario played out in our own lives (or in our own businesses).

Enough with the ducks, already…

To get a clearer picture I need to get out. I need to stop seeing my business from my perspective — with my head down plugging away at all I need to do — and see things as someone else would view them.

I’m using the first person here because I know for a fact that I’m talking about me. I think I’m talking about some of you, too. If you see yourself, own the I.

Time for a little evaluation…

Instead of just doing things the way I’ve always done them because I always have, I need to be the buttinsky (or the child, if you prefer) who continually asks, “Why?” until I come up with a logical, rational response that makes sense to someone who isn’t me — or I realize that what I’m doing really doesn’t make sense.

If you’re in position to do so — meaning you have thick enough skin and are strong enough to stand your ground when the situation warrants — you might want to have a real person help you with your evaluation. I’ve got a 13 year old who’s more than willing to question every decision I make. I don’t know yet if I’ll invite him to examine my business practices (or just pretend that I did), but when you get too trapped in your own thinking, an outside opinion might help.

Friends and family will probably give you a free consult. If you’re looking for a more professional (and more detached) evaluation, SCORE counselors may also provide the advice you need (for free). If you’ve got the money to spare, there’s no shortage of life coaches, business coaches, organizers, efficiency experts, and so on, who would be happy to help you regroup. I also know where you can get the opinions of a 13-year-old pretty cheap.

Pay attention to the signs…

Why does it matter that you are great at offering advice you’re not following? Why should you care what other people think about the way you do business? You should check the signs and evaluate your business from the outside to get a clearer perspective of your processes and strategy.

This post started out as “5 Signs That You Need to Step Out and Regroup”. Once I realized how long “Sign 1” was getting, I figured I’d best make it a series. Tune in next time for The Second Sign.


  1. Perspective is a good thing – stepping outside and looking in.

    The hard part is making use of what you learned from any evaluation (internal or external): What is my purpose? What are my goals and are they realistic? What is leading me to them? What are distractions?

    It is sometimes hard to jettison the bad ideas in order to cultivate the good ones.

  2. avatar April, the ispecialist says

    That’s true, Eric. Evaluation is only part of the effort. Making use of what you learn is hard. Unfortunately, I don’t think there are any easy methods of overcoming the difficulty. You just have to do it to get through it. Unless you’ve got some tips you’d like to share…?

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