Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Business, Not Personal

"Small business" is kind of a nifty thing. It creates a lot of jobs - particularly towards the end of periods of economic decline. It is often the source of a lot of innovation - since the really "new" or "out-there" ideas often can't gain traction in large business that have established ways of doing things.

Unfortunately, small businesses tend to leave the ownership too close to the problem. Often times, it's the owners who are doing the dirty work and making decisions. And, often times, these owners are doing work and making decisions on things that they're not the best equipped people out there for those tasks. Complicating it is that, because they've got so much invested, that they have a personal stake in things. So, when they make decisions or involve themselves in things they aren't the best suited for, they often don't make dispassionate decisions.

While, this, in itself doesn't have to be a problem, it often creates a case where, critiquing those decisions or actions is taken personally. Because they've invested not only their businesses but "themselves" in those decisions and/or actions, critiques of those decisions and/or actions are seen as criticisms of them. So, even if things are obviously horrible to people who don't have a stake in the decisions and/or actions, that message often can't be relayed to the ones who made those decisions or took those actions (at least, not without the whole "kill the messenger" result).

Friends and other well-meaning people often exacerbate these problems. Even if they can tell that there's a problem or flaw, they want to be supportive. So, rather than give the critique, they tell them "wow, that's great", even though it's far from great. This reinforces the decision maker's/action taker's view of the rightness of what they've done and makes them even more resistant to fixing the problems (after all, they don't see the problem and their friends are reinforcing that view).

God help you if you're the one that counters this world view. Often times, the only way you can deal with the situation is to walk away - either literally or metaphorically. In those cases, you can hope that enough people walk away that a message is sent (hopefully, not a fatal message, just enough for a wakeup call).

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