Replace worry with small business performance

In Blue Highways, William “Least Heat Moon” Trogdon said his Osage Indian grandfather, William “Heat” Moon, taught him this about worry: “Some things don’t have to be remembered; they remember themselves.”

Entrepreneurs are often justified in worrying about their small businesses. But sometimes we waste emotional energy worrying about things over which we have little or no control, or something that isn’t likely to happen.

In the movie, Bowfinger, Eddie Murphy played Kit Ramsey, an action movie star who was also famous for being a pathological worrier. He worried about really strange things that would never happen, and it caused him to lead a frightened and miserable life.

Ramsey’s greatest worry was being captured, killed and eaten by space aliens. He also worried about being crushed by a gigantic foot, and that his body might burst into flames. Pretty silly, huh?! Watching Murphy play this unstable character is hilarious. But it also makes you think about how silly we are to worry about things that, like Ramsey’s obsessions, probably will never happen.

Instead of space aliens, how much time do we spend stressing out about our businesses being killed and eaten by the dreaded foreign competition? Instead of being stepped on by a giant foot, we obsess about being squashed by a Big Box Competitor. And instead of literally bursting into flames, we wake up in the middle of the night worrying that one day our customers will abandon us and our business will internally combust and go up in smoke.

In truth, unlike Kit Ramsey’s worries, these small business analogies actually could happen. But instead of living a frightened and miserable life worrying about them, let’s put all of that brain energy into doing what we can to make sure any competitor would be hard-pressed to take our customers away.

Stop worrying about fighting a price war with the Big Boxes. Remember: That war is over, and small business lost. Don’t make price a bigger issue than it needs to be. Instead, deliver so much value that price becomes a non-issue.

Stop obsessing about foreign competitors. They may have what your customers need, but they don’t know the one thing that only you know: what your customers want.

Your goal should be that when something a customer wants pops into their heads, if you sell it, your company, as Trogdon’s grandfather would say, should remember itself.

Don’t live a frightened and miserable life. Replace worry with action and performance.

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