How Do You View Your Small Business?

by Ken Mueller on August 28, 2012 · 7 comments

Lego Digging Up The Road 2The other day I was driving down Chestnut Street in Lancaster on my way home, muttering under my breath, silently hurling invective at the city and the work crews from the gas company. You see, all summer the gas company has been digging up Chestnut Street from one end of the city to the other, in a seemingly random fashion. You can almost feel the fillings rattling out of your teeth as you attempt to dodge the workmen and the uneven road they have created.

As I neared my home, I noticed a woman sitting on the stoop in front of her house. While the road in front of them was being ripped to pieces, taking away their prime parking space, and creating all sorts of noise and dust, I couldn’t even begin to imagine how that mom felt looking at the construction that had disrupted her life, day in and day out. But then I noticed something else: a little girl, perhaps 6 or 7 years old, sitting next to the woman, presumably her mom.

The girl was enraptured as she watched the construction crews maneuver a backhoe in front of the house, not more than 10 feet from her, digging up the road in preparation to install new gas lines. She just stared and watched, seemingly enjoying every moment. Suddenly, I had a flashback to my childhood, understanding that if I were her age, I’d be savoring this moment, rather than cursing it.

What happened?

If you’re childhood was anything like mine, all it would take would be an airplane or helicopter to fly over, or a fire engine to come racing down the street, and you would stop what you were doing, drop everything, and run outside to watch.  As children, we were fascinated by sounds, technology, and interruptions. But as we grew up, those same things became mundane, a part of every day life, and, perhaps, annoyances. We become jaded and lose our innocence along the same path where we lost our “belief” in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.

Our culture tells us to “grow up” and be mature. Our kids become “intellectual” adults long before they are physically and emotionally prepared for adulthood.

And with those dreams and innocence, we also lose our imaginations; our ability to see things fresh and new disappears. We’ve lost the ability to see anything through the eyes of a child.

And that’s a shame.

We need that fresh perspective of everything being new and exciting. If you’re a marketer, or a small business owner, do you still have that childlike wonder about your own products and services? Do you get excited to see your customers or clients, or are they merely background noise that we no longer notice?

Things become old hat awfully fast, including our jobs. I wrote yesterday that I gained some fresh perspective on the Internet and social media while I was semi-forced into a 3-week blogging break. I also gained some new perspective and insight into my own business, and I’m really excited. I can sense some shifting going on with my business model, and it’s given me a renewed, more child-like, interest in what I do.

Take some time to step back and look at yourself, your job, your business, and even your customers and clients, through the eyes of a child. Get a fresh perspective on things, and you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes. Remind yourself that you really don’t know it all. There are still unknowns and mysteries out there, even in your area of expertise. By remaining curious and wide-eyed, you can learn something new.

When I saw this young child looking at the heavy equipment with excitement and wonder, it made me look at the equipment and construction in a very different way. If you can’t get excited about your business with a sense of childlike wonder, how are your customers going to get excited. That sense of wonder is infectious, but boredom is also infectious.

What are you doing to regain your sense of childlike wonder?

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barrettrossie 1 Like

See, it helps if you've never quite grown up. At least, that's what my wife says about me. 

On a serious note, I'd really look forward to a blog post about the changes you eventually make.  

KenMueller moderator 1 Like

@barrettrossie Oh, I'm much the same way. My wife says I'm 12. ON a good day. And I thought about posting today about the planned shifts in my business model, but I chose this post instead. I might just talk about them sometime in the next week or so. nothing major or drastic, but a definite shift...

MarcScott 1 Like

I do voiceover work for a living and one of the things I love about it is that every job is different. When I worked in radio my shift felt completely programmed. Like I could record a few breaks Monday and play them every shift until Friday and nobody would notice. But in voiceover, every job is different. Every client is different. It helps keep things fresh and new. That is a big part of what keeps me auditioning every day. Looking for that next new booking and adventure.

Thanks for the great post!

KenMueller moderator

@MarcScott Thanks for stopping by, Marc. My background is in radio as well, and my first job in radio was at one of the earlier versions of automated programming. Rather primitive, but it allowed me to be on two stations at the same time.  And I love when every day is different. Love new challenges.


I'd totally forgotten about that - how we used to stop every time a plane flew by. Makes me smile to think about it.

KenMueller moderator

@katskrieger I think there is a lot of stuff we miss on the ground, too, perhaps because we aren't as close to the ground. Like stopping to look at a bunch of ants on the sidewalk. Boy, we sure miss out on a lot!


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