Making Dramatic Business Changes

It may be ironic, but one of the best things to have happened to small business as a result of the pandemic was the massive pivot to online shopping. Now, of course, it wasn’t easy and not a few businesses had a difficult time figuring out how to turn their offline, physical business into an online, virtual one. That said, many entrepreneurs were in fact quite creative and managed the trick quite adroitly. The reason I am suggesting our change in shopping habits should be seen as fortuitous and not disastrous is that it forced many entrepreneurs to (1) re-think their business model, and (2) begin to sell online—whether they wanted to or not. The upshot of this was that many ended up with altogether new ways to make money and grow their business—strategies that they very likely would not have considered had they not been forced to. That’s the ticket. Big opportunities come infrequently, but when they do, you need to reach for a bucket, not a thimble. And that time is now. We are on the cusp of what is next, but the thing is, no one quite knows what “next” will look like; it has yet to be written. But you can write your own next right now. The problem that many of us face when considering making a change is that it can sometimes seem too big, too overwhelming. Sure, “doing the opposite” might sound great in theory, but truly, how do you actually do that? Where do you start? That sort of change can seem very intimidating. But what if it wasn’t so tough after all? As it turns out, maybe it doesn’t have to be. I want you to picture in your mind a giant ocean tanker. Think about how massive they are—usually more than 1,000 feet long and weighing more than 50 tons. There is a lot of momentum keeping that tanker heading in a certain direction. So how then does the captain of that giant ship change its direction? Most people think that the captain turns the wheel and the wheel turns the rudder. Simple, right? Wrong. In actuality, there is so much water pressure on the rudder that it is impossible to turn. What happens instead is this: When the captain turns the wheel, the wheel turns a little mini-rudder called a “trim tab” that sits at the end of the actual rudder. The trim tab moves a bit, changing the water pressure around the real rudder, and that is what allows the bigger rudder to move. Only then does the massive ship begin to change course and head in a new direction. It is the little change that makes the big change happen. This actually is how a lot of change occurs in the world, whether we are talking about a ship, or a ship of state, or a basketball team, or a person. Little changes are often the fulcrum that fosters bigger ones. You have to admit, grinding is all the rage these days. Gotta grind. Grind it out. Grind or die. “Someone busier than you is grinding right now.” Maximize your productivity. Hustle! Create that side hustle. Turn it into your main hustle. Do the hustle! The modern mandate to grind-or-die is like being a hamster on a wheel, and I dare you to show me a smart, happy hamster. The hamster’s work life goes like this: get on the wheel, get to work, start spinning, don’t look back, don’t slow down, don’t dare rest, just keep spinning out toward some goal that will never be reached because one either becomes addicted to the grind or burns out from exhaustion. There has got to be a better way, right? There is in fact a different and better way to work that will allow you to boom your business or career and make more money without killing yourself. If you are a small business person who is working 80-hour weeks, I am talking to you. If you are a freelancer who doesn’t turn down any project, no matter how time-consuming or horrible the client, I’m looking at you. The secret is to not work harder, but smarter, and to make money while you sleep. Note that I am not suggesting, and nor would you want to hear, that hard work is a bad idea. The old adage that success is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration is true. Working hard in and on your business is good. But the hard work that can propel a business or career or endeavor forward is different—much different—than the grind-it-out-at-all-costs, hamster-on-a-wheel ethos that camouflages as hard work these days. The trick is to work hard when you want to or need to, but also to have as much time away as you need to have while still growing your business. In his great book, The 4-Hour Workweek, Timothy Ferriss shares how he went from working 80 hours a week and making $40,000 a year to working 4 hours a week and making $40,000 a month. Quite the trick, right? Yet it wasn’t a trick at all, it was strategic. Ferriss figured out an easier, better, more lucrative way to work, and in the process, he created a blueprint: work smarter, work less, generate passive income.