Try or Die

June 4, 2012

This post originally appeared on the eFuneral Funeral Director Blog.

I’m usually not one for unnecessary in-your-face statements – which is why I almost didn’t stick with the title of this blog post.  But then I realized that these three simple words, while perhaps coming across like a splash from a cold glass of water, couldn’t be truer for funeral professionals (and any small business owner).  Complacency is out.  Throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks is in.

But to quote LeVar Burton, you don’t have to take my word for it…

In a recent Inc Magazine article, Matthew Swyers asks, “Is Your Business Suffering from This Silent Killer?”  The killer in question is…you guessed it:  complacency.  Sywers goes on to make four major points about complacency (and I summarize each point below):

  1. Practice Reasonable Paranoia:  Realize that if you’re not trying new things, your competitors are.
  2. Look in the Rear View Mirror:  Even if you’re “the best” – pay attention to what those close behind are doing to catch up.
  3. You can always do better:  If you wait until you’re in a place where you’re reacting as opposed to being proactive, it might already be too late.
  4. Listen for fresh ideas:  Step outside of your comfort zone to identify potentially game-changing success-drivers.

Regardless of whether you feel you’re guilty of complacency with your business, Swyers’s piece is certainly worth the read.

But if complacency is indeed the “silent killer” – why is it that so many business owners continue to just do things the way that they’ve always been done?  Simple.  It’s not easy.  In fact, it can be downright scary.  But it doesn’t necessarily have to be.  Matt Cutts, a senior technologist at Google, took an interesting approach to trying something new in his life.  He gave himself “30 day challenges.”  The concept is similar to Morgan Spurlock’s intriguing, if not controversial, film, Super Size Me.  Cutts gave himself 30 days to do something that he’s never done before – including taking up photography, biking to work, and even writing a novel.  He gave a quick TED Talk about his experiences which is worth a watch.

So, how does this apply to you?

Take this post as a challenge for you to try something new for 30 days.  You’d be surprised what you might be able to accomplish with just 1 or 2 hours of dedication for 30 straight days.  If you find yourself intrigued but racking your brain to think about what you can do to challenge yourself for the next 30 days, let me make a few suggestions:

  1. Become well-read on search engine optimization so that you don’t have to hire some outside firm to try to get you on the first page of a google search.  (SEOMoz has some great resources to get you started).
  2. Create a video blog so that your community can get to know who you are on a more personal level.
  3. Learn at least a cursory amount of a new language, so you can begin to communicate with people in your community whose first language might not be English.

I’m looking forward to post in 30 days about my experiences in the month of June.  What is my personal challenge, you ask?  Well…you’ll just have to check in next month find out…

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