Working long hours is often seen as the price of being an owner of a SME, small or medium sized enterprise.
However, hard work and long hours are no guarantee or sign of success.
Indeed, behind the brave face of many a SME business owner is frustration with their lot.
They are clearly in an uncomfortable comfort zone, but they have got used to it and so think it’s the only place they can be – it has become the norm.
It’s also a bit of a prison and the only way to escape is to change the mindset to one that accepts the challenge of making a change.
Just like the frog in a pan of boiling water the heat has built up slowly and the pain is not noticed until it is too late.
Here are the five components that keep SME business owners from breaking free of that uncomfortable comfort zone.
Our Ego protects and maintains our psychological well-being.
It can lead a SME business owner to ignore or not admit to a sneaky suspicion that something is amiss resulting in the polishing of the past and therefore reality.
Often what was once a major strength for you in the early days of building your SME business may become a weakness as the business grows.
As an example, being a great ‘people person’, bringing in the clients and sales with your natural friendly demeanour may allow others to take advantage of the good-natured boss!
Looking at the ‘man in the mirror’ is a difficult task
but, with an outsider’s help, it can be easier.
Seek honest feedback so you can overcome the ego and start moving out of the uncomfortable (or even embarrassing) comfort zone.
A belief is something that as individuals we hold to be true.
The interesting thing is that, once we let a belief take hold, our unconscious mind will find evidence to reinforce it.
Think about that for a moment.
If, for example, you believe that the economy is stalling, you will be more likely to only notice and read the articles with the headlines that confirm that view.
If you believe that working long hours is the price of being a business owner you will connect success to hard work.
Here’s a new filter to validate your beliefs and the subsequent decisions that are based on them.
Is this belief based on fact or opinion?
If it turns out to be based on opinion, check the facts.
If you think it is actually based on facts, double check the facts!
Constantly apply this filter and you’ll have another means of breaking free of that uncomfortable comfort zone.
3. Blind spot
Blind spots are another distortion of reality – a trick your eyes and brain collaborate on.
It’s the magician’s best friend as a blind spot is responsible for the times you fail to see what’s actually happening before your eyes (the sleight of hand they use) or in other cases, it can cause you to only see what you believe should be there (the illusion they create).
The phrase ‘seeing is believing’ is not at all accurate. Instead it is ‘believing’ that is influencing everything you see and that belief filter is a key component in the formation of our comfort zone.
Be aware of and acknowledge your beliefs because the commercial reality is that the blind spots they cause can be costly.
4. Common sense
How many times have you looked at a problem and just known the answer?
It’s ‘common sense’.
So why is it that, when presented with the same problem, there are people in your team that just don’t seem to see what is clearly an obvious solution?
It’s an infuriating situation so you give up trying to explain as the answer is so obvious and just get on with doing it yourself.
There is no such thing as common sense!
Consider, a growing SME family business with a shared common history.
Surely everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.
Interestingly, in these situations, the idea of a ‘common history’ is about as non-existent as ‘common sense’.
Certain events may have happened and been experienced by everyone but each person will view those events differently, using their own filters to create an opinion of them rather than just looking at the facts.
Look out for the tell-tale signs of the ‘common sense’ demon.
If you hear yourself saying “you just know it” or thinking “how can they not see it?”, then that common sense will keep you within your uncomfortable comfort zone.
The formation and maintenance of habits – the final big component of the uncomfortable comfort zone.
“But we’ve always done it this way.”
Our unconscious mind is actually a bit like a spy, secretly listening in to all our conversations and looking to influence our behaviour based on what it learns.
That can be an ally if we feed it the right words (forming good habits and behaviour).
However, let it hear you say that word ‘but’ too often and you could be in for a tough ride.
Let me show you how this word gets it power.
There are in fact some invisible implied words before the ‘but’ in that sentence.
What it is saying is:
“There are lots of other ways we could try but we’ve always done it this way.”
Listening in to this, the unconscious mind responds by saving and promoting the continuation of an existing habit. Now, let’s switch this one around:
“We’ve always done it this way but there are lots of other ways we could try.”
Here the unconscious mind is much more willing to break a habit, responding by saying “come on, let’s go try out something new and exciting”.
Habits can be good or bad but, either way, they will form part of your comfort zone.
Watch out for the ‘buts’ and spin them around so that your unconscious mind gets the positive message about change, working with you in the growth of your business rather than holding you back.
Moving towards ‘understanding’
So, the ego, beliefs, common sense, blind spots and habits have a lot to answer for in terms of fueling your fears, stifling change and ultimately creating a very uncomfortable comfort zone.
I hope you’ve already begun to turn these things around in your head.