There is a phenomenon with business owners I see all too often. And it scares me.
I call it the business owner blind spot.
But before I get to that, let me ask you a question.
Have you ever (and I already know the answer) launched a new campaign or invested a ton of time into a new, amazing business-building idea only to discover that in the end, you didn’t really like it – even hated it?
Like taking the advice that writing every morning is the secret to building your online platform.
Or subscribing to the campaign launch of a course, or book, or membership offers.
Or, for that matter, creating an online course, writing a book, or (for the very brave) constructing a membership program.
You have, haven’t you?
I know I have. And sure I’ve sold and made lots of money from online courses and even writing a book.
But, most of my other ventures into business success have suffered an ugly demise.
“Most of my other ventures into business success have suffered an ugly demise.”
If you’re anything like me, you suffer from the BOB – Business Owner Blindspot.
Here’s how it works.
Just like the blind spot we all have when we drive our car, we are so fixated on the miles ahead we can’t see what’s inching up from behind. And what’s inching up from behind is us; our motivations, aptitude, skills, habits, and abilities.
It’s hard to run away from who you are.
Oh sure, you think: I can learn! I can take courses! I am a BUSINESS OWNER I can push my way through any wall to get to a better place.
Well, sort of.
We all have blind spots
The reality is we all have strengths and we all have blind spots. And the better we understand and work from our areas of strength, and mitigate our weaknesses the better and faster we can build our business.
“The better we understand and work from our areas of strength, and mitigate our weaknesses the better and faster we can build our business.”
In his book Now, Discover Your Strengths, Marcus Buckingham defines your strengths as something “you can fathom yourself doing it repeatedly, happily, and successfully.” I think of your business strengths as talents or habits you are naturally good at that also add value to your enterprise.
For example, I am good at envisioning a project and then finding the discipline to chip away at it every day until complete. And I work better with urgency and deadlines. What I’m not so great at is day-to-day business maintenance, like checking email, coaching staff, or messing around with technology.
Based on that, I hired a full-time manager for my business who excels at detail and execution of the routines we’ve built. I support him with system improvements that better manage our team of writers and serving our clients. And I try to stay out of his way.
5 questions you should ask before taking on new projects
The next time your YouTube viewing is interrupted by some 30’s something going on about making millions while working 2 hours a week, ask yourself these 5 questions.
1. Does it involve habits?
If you treasure spontaneity and every day being different, then run away from new ventures that rely heavily on routine, discipline, and repetition. Examples are: writing a book, a blog, publishing a podcast, or building a social media platform.
A test of this blind spot is how you typically react to advice about starting new habits, like: morning meditation, daily journaling, walking, gym, and taking vitamins. If you tend to get excited about a new “life-changing” habit, only to drop it a week later, chances are your strength is as the creator, or leader, or in sales.
Outsource the rest.
2. Does it involve software?
A lot of online business strategies involve learning and mastering software. It’s hard to get around that one. This could be a big blind spot if you are pivoting from something like live training or speaking to online courses or membership programs (here’s where age does make a difference).
At the simplest level, you might need to update a Trello board or make Calendly talk nicely with Zoom. More complicated ventures include: setting up a CRM, like ActiveCampaign or Convertkit, mastering an online course builder platform, like Teachable, or Thinkific, editing videos, or learning the basics with a graphic design program like Canva.
“Here’s a simple test to know if you have a software blind spot: do you use shortcut keys?”
Here’s a simple test to know if you have a software blind spot: do you use shortcut keys? If you are not the kind of person who happily searches out hacks – like shortcut keys, or how to better organize your Inbox – then why do you think you’ll enjoy spending your weekends learning some complicated software?
The good news is that this might be the simplest part of your business to outsource.
3. Does it involve direct selling?
Here’s a tough one to get around.
Some business strategies involve good, old, eat-what-you-kill direct sales. Think real estate, car dealerships, but also, membership programs, affiliate deals, or selling physical products.
My business grows one customer at a time and every sale starts with a phone call or zoom meeting. I like it. I geek out on learning how people started their business, what they’re trying to build, and how we can help them.
“I geek out on learning how people started their business, what they’re trying to build, and how we can help them.”
If the thought of having dozens of conversations with strangers in order to land one sale gives you a rash, then direct sales are not for you.
Selling, especially for a small business, is hard to outsource. The alternative is to get a partner who loves selling or pivot to the kind of business that can grow with word-of-mouth advertising or referrals, like coaching, training, facilitation, and consulting.
4. Does it involve systems?
I define a system in business as something you design and build once, then it works to save you time and effort. In small business, systems include: recruiting, hiring, and managing contractors, shopping carts and online sales, email sequences, monthly reports to clients, publishing your blog or podcast or video.
“A system in business is something you design and build once and then it works automatically to save you time and effort.”
You know this is a strength for you if you like solving complicated, repetitive delivery designs, like employing freelancers for onboarding new clients or publishing your blog or podcast.
The good news is that if you are clear on outcomes, there are lots of freelancers who geek out on this stuff.
5. Does it involve people?
If you have any ambition of growing your business beyond one product, or a handful of clients, you need people. For many business owners taking on their first employee or virtual assistant is the first, and often a most difficult hurdle to growth.
“For many business owners taking on their first employee or virtual assistant is the first, and often most difficult, hurdle to growth.”
Some of my clients have virtual assistants (often grossly underutilized, but that’s for another article), or rely on one or two freelancers for work like graphic design, editing, or posting on social media.
You might have a delegation blind spot if you’ve ever been disappointed in the work someone did for you and you either: felt resentment (because you are working so much harder), resisted giving feedback or fired the person without a second chance.
Early in my career, I learned the value of a good business coach to help me park my ego, focus on what was actually important, and more fully delegate responsibility to team members or freelancers.
I should have fired myself years ago
Given enough time, coaching, or experience we can all develop new skills and overcome our blind spots. It’s a question of goals.
If your goal is to build your business and do what you love, chances are there are parts you won’t love and will need to delegate. I spent too many years struggling to do work I have little aptitude for (like learning software programs) while ignoring the few areas of strength I do have.
I should have fired myself years ago.
Your job as the business owner is to recognize your blind spots not as weaknesses, but as opportunities to attract new talent so you are free to focus on your strengths.
That, in one sentence, is the secret to business leadership.
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