Mind Your Business

Paul and Gary set a task for themselves. Paul wanted to build at nice tent and Gary wanted to build a house. The first day out, Gary was able to build his tent. It was a very nice tent to say the least. Gary on the other hand was busy leveling the ground for nearly a week. It took another two weeks for Gary to lay the foundation. Day after day, Gary labored upon the house. After a few weeks, Gary took notice of the ease of Paul’s life. He could come and go as he pleased while Gary had to work.

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One day Paul came by and noticed that Gary was feeling a bit down because his project wasn’t happening quickly. After Gary expressed his frustration, Paul said, “Why don’t you just build a tent? It’s much easier.” Paul said, “You have a very nice tent and I’m happy for you; however, I don’t desire a tent. It is my desire to build a house.” Paul said, “I understand, but that being the case, you should not be down on yourself. By all logic, building a house requires far more time and effort than a tent.”


I shared this story to make a point regarding expectations. During the development stages of a business, we encounter many challenges and setbacks. It’s easy to get caught up in the habit of looking at what someone else is doing and how quickly his or her concept is taking off. When I was a realtor, it typically took a new agent between six and twelve months to close their first deal. Without having that understanding, I might have given up long before I closed my first deal. Compare that to a coffee shop that will likely have paying customers the very first day. I know! It’s comparing apples to oranges, right? They aren’t the same thing. They are two very different types of businesses.


We errantly measure our progress against others. If they are in the same market as we are, doing the same type of business that we are, then the comparison may be legitimate and we may need to make adjustments. However, that’s not usually the case. We have to realize that some businesses are far easier to build than others. Some businesses need repeat customers daily, while others may only serve the same customer once in five years or a lifetime. Understanding the type of business we’re in can save us a lot of frustration.


How do you gain that understanding? You can start by doing research. Don’t stress about that! It doesn’t need to be a long drawn-out process. Talk to a coffee shop owner, clothing designer, realtor, etc. It will be time well spent and the understanding will work wonders. Mind your business. How else will you come to understand it?


Eric L. Lipsey