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The small business “rut”….

At times it is difficult to pinpoint the reason why a business does not grow. The economy is often used as an excuse; other issues that are mentioned include a lack of resources, or “my customers don’t realize the value of my product/service”. Another excuse I hear is “I’m too tired”. In other words, I hear a litany of excuses which, almost always, point the problem to an uncontrollable factor, a factor removed from  the owner of the business.

I began documenting this phenomena which I labeled “business rut” several years ago. I first defined it as an unexplainable “sickness” that engulfs many business owners, not just those that are starting out, but some that have been in business for decades. Our initial conversations were generally negative, and as I try to determine immediate family involvement in the business, I noticed that, in many cases, family life was just “tolerable”.

I am neither a psychologist nor mental counselor, but with further probing I found a trend that was common to many such clients. My so called “business rut” may be called a mild depression caused by a lack of “enthusiastic support”.

I am a strong advocate for running your own business, but not everyone can run a business alone. A tag line I use is “be in business for yourself but not by yourself”. It’s hard to climb out of a deep hole unless someone else throws you a rope or lowers a ladder.

Pride or a fear of appearing unable to grow a business, are two of the major reasons, I believe, as to why business owners refuse to grab the rope or climb the ladder. Whether the person that is willing to help is a paid consultant or a retired business executive offering free help, the rejection is the same.

Nobody can talk someone else into doing something, especially in their business, unless the owner is willing to open his heart and mind and take a risk with the rope and ladder.

Leadership is knowing  when to ask for help and accepting the help when offered.

Nick J. Petra CFP                               Visit

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