In business, being successful is not just about choosing when to seize upon an opportunity; it's not just about knowing how to incorporate the latest and greatest techniques; it's also about realizing when something you're doing isn't working and being able to just let go.
Earlier this week, the AP reported an interesting medical discovery:
"After completing a major study on the use of placebos, the German Medical Association recently concluded [that] fake pills sometimes work better than real medicines and recommended that doctors give them out more often — even without explicitly telling their patients."
A point that is often under emphasized within the hallowed halls of conventional medicine is the realization that for as many beneficial medical advances that have been developed over the years, there are just as many procedures and medications that have been proven to be both ineffective and insensible. Yet, professional western medicine- as an establishment- keeps performing and promoting them. (Some examples: the focus on symptomatic care rather that treating the root cause of a problem, an almost total blindness to the mind-body connection and a holistic, individualized approach to treatment, and the frequent promotion of medications that often create adverse reactions while barely "curing" the undesirable symptoms in question.)
While there are many reasons why this is so in the medical industry in particular, the truth is that similar situations can crop up in all areas of life. Most people have a natural built-in resistance to breaking habit or changing the status quo, and they usually have many reasons for why that is so.
And the business world is certainly not immune... As much as the tried and true processes, systems, and tools are important to running a successful operation, as a business owner, you have to be in touch with the actual needs, goals, and resources of your particular company as well as your target market.
In practice, this may mean a lot of tweaking along the way. So, for example, we all hear that social media should be used in a small business' marketing campaign. But there really is no one-size-fits-all strategy for success. You need to try things out, ask for advice, and monitor the results. If you fail to do this (and many people do) then you risk loosing your business and all that you have invested in it.
To help you along the way, here are some telltale signs that a process within your business may need to be changed or dropped altogether:
- You are either loosing money, or not reaching pre-set benchmarks and goals. While there are many reasons why a particular process or strategy may not be producing the anticipated results, if your business is consistently under-performing in this area then it deserves attention and analysis.
- The process is creating too much stress or negativity. Even if a given process within your business is technically profitable, if it is leaving in its wake a strong aversion or feelings of resentment or anxiety among you and your employees, then it is a good idea to consider what needs to be changed. Negative feelings can significantly effect job satisfaction and performance as well as customer loyalty.
- The process is tying up too many resources. If a given project or process within your business is disproportionally taking you and your available resources away from other vital areas of your business, then here too something will need to be altered.
- The process or tool does not fit your current business culture, image, or structure. Those "can't loose" tools, techniques, and tips being promoted for your business success may indeed be worthwhile and effective for countless companies, but they may not be appropriate for your business in particular. If you seek outside advice regarding a business process, such as marketing, management, or website development, then make sure the person offering it is trained, experienced, and displays some real understanding of how your business operates.
In short, part of being successful in business is knowing where to direct your attention and double your efforts, and part is knowing when it's time to just walk away.