Why Small Steps Equal Big Movement

If you’re in business, I’ll bet there’s something you know you need to do, but can’t quite find the resolve to actually do it.

Maybe it’s something as simple and straightforward as reorganizing a display that’s been too ugly for too long. Maybe it’s as tough and psychologically draining as firing an employee you like but who just isn’t getting the job done. Likely, it’s somewhere in between — new accounting software, changing distributors, ending your sponsorship of a local program that’s not bringing results, relocating.

Whatever it is, you know it needs to happen. You’ve thought about other ways of handling it, but they won’t work. Ignoring the situation isn’t an option. The problem will not go away … at least not fast enough.

So how do you do the thing you need to do but can’t bring yourself to do?

I think the answer lies in two parts: finding a partner (where you can) and taking small steps in the right direction.


Finding a partner doesn’t mean splitting up your business and sharing profits. It means getting someone else’s skin in the game with yours. If the problem is that you need new accounting software, identify someone who knows about such things (perhaps even someone in a very different business) and “partner” with them by telling them about your situation and asking for their advice. That doesn’t mean you actually have to take their advice, but you need to listen, you need to ask questions and you need to learn. All of those things will get you closer to a resolution.

If the problem is that someone needs to go, ironically you could partner with them on the problem. Explain the situation. Ask what they would do in your shoes? You might find they agree with you. If not, at least you’ll have heard them out and had a meaningful discussion. If their performance hasn’t improved or the market will no longer bear their salary, you might find a “partner” in a very strange place.

The small steps concept is all about making a movement — however small — toward solving that problem. If the problem is a large display that needs to be moved, start by taking everything off it … right now. If the problem is finding a new distributor, pick up the phone and put a call in to a rival distributor. Tell them the issues you’re having. Ask how they can keep those problems from plaguing your business moving forward.

Whatever you do, do something. Push things forward, even if it’s just a little bit. It’ll do more for you than you realize. For one thing, it’ll get you feeling better about your situation. Sometimes the thing you know you need to do is the proverbial elephant in the room. If ignored too long, it adversely impacts everything else and the joy out of your business and your life.

For another, there’s a sense of accomplishment in doing something constructive — especially something constructive that’s also difficult. Like a runner’s high, it doesn’t come easily, but there’s nothing else quite like it. If you’ve been in business for a while, you know those feelings can be few and far between. The more of them you experience, the better off you’ll be.

I’m not suggesting you take the leap on some iffy decision with plenty of pros and cons to keep you second guessing yourself for months. I’m saying that if you know exactly what you should do, you need to do it and stop procrastinating about it.

It’s not always easy to do the thing that’s best for your business because it’s not always easy to identify what that thing is. When you know what it is and still don’t do it, you become part of your problem.

When you know what the right thing is and still refuse to do it or delay doing it, you don’t need to wonder why things aren’t going as well as they could be. The answer is right there in front of you and the last hurdle is staring at you from the mirror.

A rising tide lifts all boats. Let’s be that tide.