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Displacement: A Critical Small Biz Factor We Never Acknowledge

DisplacementDisplacement: In the real world of small business, everything you do rules out something else you can’t do.

Understanding displacement is vital for business planning, vital for growing a business, vital for small and medium business in particular. Consider the picture here, marbles dropping into a full glass of water. The water comes splashing out of the glass and onto the table. That’s a good illustration of displacement and how it works in business.

I’ve seen it so many times: trying to plan their business, people start making lists of things that ought to be done and end up with huge unrealistic and impossible business plans because they haven’t come to terms with displacement.

Everything you do displaces something else that you can’t do. Learn to live with this and you’ll do better planning your business, and, particularly, growing your business.

(Note: this is a rewrite from a 2006 post)



  • Charles Robinson says:

    I have a friend who launched a line of gourmet sauces. She has a logistics manager, sales manager, marketing manager, and product manager. She calls each of them multiple times a day and often creates chaos by changing priorities on the fly.

    I have been trying to get her to understand she needs to focus on the things only she can do, such as be the official face of her company and negotiate deals, and let the people she hired do their jobs, like track shipments and sales.

  • Stephen Lahey says:

    Your post is a great reminder for small business owners to be realistic when setting goals and planning. Otherwise, what often gets displaced are the most crucial things for business development and, more important, for a healthy and happy life (exercise, sleep, time with family).

  • Media Training Worldwide says:

    That’s pretty brilliant and a pit fall that I seem to fall right in!

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