Are You Looking for Answers You’ll Never Find?

Are you looking for answers you think are out there somewhere, like hidden treasure, when they really aren’t? When you have to make your own answer instead of finding some theoretical right answers.

Business plans, sales forecasts, best practices, how-to steps, lists of solutions … are they like hidden treasure, waiting for you to find them? Is that how you approach them? Ask people on Twitter, find out what to do?

What if there’s really no treasure out there at all, and what really happens is that one by one, case by case, we develop our own. We either make our own treasure, or we waste our time searching.

Offering advice scares me. Sure, it’s sort of what I do, in this blog, in books, and so on. But it scares me because in the real world, general rules don’t always apply. Every case is different. The right answers are the ones you make yourself, not the ones you find. I want people to take what I say about something and think about it, compare it to other views, try it on, see if it fits, and make it their own thing.

This is related to the “I’m not qualified” syndrome. There’s a scene in a Monty Python movie where the woman in labor asks the doctor (played by John Cleese): “doctor, doctor, what do I do?” And the doctor answers, scornfully: “You? You do nothing. You’re not qualified.”

Too many people think somebody else – the MBA, the CPA, the one with the grey hair – has some magic that they don’t have. Are you like the woman in the birth scene, wondering what to do? You’re not qualified?

The obvious case that I deal with all the time is the idea of finding a business plan instead of making your own. Samples are great, sure, but don’t think any existing business plan will ever work for your business. You have a different time, place, strengths and weaknesses, resources, goals, and so on. It’s a bit like writing a novel: reading others helps, but you don’t find the novel you authored, you write it.

That’s just one example of many. Throughout the world of small business and entrepreneurship, people everywhere have the mistaken idea that there is a right answer somewhere, if only they can just find it. Do you homework. Educate your guesses. But this is your business, like it’s your life.

Don’t spend too much time finding the hidden treasure. Do it your way, not mine, not hers, or his, or theirs, or some theoretical right way. Everything is case by case. Do it your way.

(Image: James Steidl/Shutterstock)


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