Roll with the Punches


Seeing the Forest Through the Trees


One of the most common questions I get during an initial consultation is, “Why should I listen to someone that’s not an expert in our field?”  I find the answer to be very simple.  In my experience, it helps not to be an expert in the industry, so you can approach the relationship with a fresh perspective.  Too often, I’ve noticed, small business leaders are so tied up with working ‘in’ the business that they rarely work ‘on’ the business.  They’re so consumed with their day-to-day, that they struggle to see the big picture.  It’s hard to see the forest through the trees.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though.  Here’s some tried and true advice for small business leaders that want to be focused on the big picture and improve their business:


The opportunity that I see the most when consulting for small businesses is that leadership (typically the owner) tries to do everything themselves.  I get it–you’ve built this great thing, and no one can really do it the way you want it done–so you need to do it all yourself.  If this is you, throw out that lifesaver to your team.

You need to alter your current leadership style from being the doer and fixer to the trust and verify general.  Elevate your best talent, show them what good looks like, and let them carry some of that stress.  Your team will be happy to be given the opportunity, and you will be rewarded with even more production.

Sure–this is stressful at times, and not every task will be completed perfectly–but that’s OK!  Use those opportunities to train and motivate your leaders.  Over time, the team will admire your coaching mentality and will want to work harder for you.

Remember, you can’t do it all yourself.  Not if you hope to scale.  It’s simply not tenable.


After you’ve built up this group of folks that share the workload, collaborate with them on a goal, and work to achieve it.

If you ask your VPs or Directors what your company’s business goals for this quarter are, would they be able to tell you?  Would it match what you would say?  What about for the remainder of the year?  Next year?  Three years from now?

It is absolutely critical to define your business goals, collaboratively, with your team.  From there, take steps to achieve them.  If you spend all day and week working on the fires in your business, you will never accomplish more than the here and now.  This is one of the biggest reasons small businesses fail.  You and your team need to understand the bigger picture, have it articulated, and be able to show steps to achieving it.

I promise you that if your team were all rowing in the same direction, your company performance would increase substantially and your personal stress would dramatically decrease.

That’s the real goal, isn’t it?


This one is directed solely to the leaders that think they can do it better than everyone else.  If you can, you have surrounded yourself with the wrong people.  I’ve heard this said in a matter of different ways, but ultimately this is about your pride.

First, accept that you are not the greatest to do what you are doing.

Second, seek ways to improve yourself and your company.  Is that coaching, support, a new way of doing the thing you’ve always done, hiring from a diverse group of talent, etc.?  The list could go on.

Ultimately, if you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.

Constantly look for ways to improve.  Read or listen to new books & podcasts.  Join a mentor network.  Ask for advice.  Hire from places that you typically wouldn’t.  Seek out candidates who bring something completely different to the table.

And if you are the leader who thinks that you’re already the best at what you do, congrats–you’ve got it all figured out!


When you’re smack dab in the middle of a problem with your day-to-day business, I guarantee it is the hardest to work on your business.  Find time to set aside weekly, and schedule it on your calendar.  Take time each week to remove your fireman hat and put on your thinking cap.

I promise you will feel far more accomplished when you work on your business than you do putting out your day-to-day fires.

When you are exclusively dealing with your everyday issues, the trees all start to look the same and it will be easy to get lost… and once you’re lost, it is really hard to get back out.

related articles