For years I've lived in a very friendly, very comfortable apartment complex in West Austin. One of my nearby neighbors is self-employed with a schedule similar to mine which has us bumping into each other regularly.
All of this community connection is warm and wonderful. There’s just one problem – I can't remember his name. So, often times I greet him with a huge smile and a, “hi neighbor!” He responds, “hi Penny.” And off we go.
I call it the Closed Window Syndrome. We've been neighbors far too long for me to ask his name -and of course he or one of my other neighbors has told me his name a million times – I just can't seem to remember it. It’s just too shameful – too much time has passed – I would feel rude and uncaring to ask. In other words my window of opportunity has flown away and so he remains, “hi neighbor.”
I'm sure you've been there. You've been in situations when it feels too embarrassing to admit that the information that should be right at your fingertips can't be found in your memory bank. Or maybe information has been given to you in the past but you're still in confusion.
Sometimes it’s not such a big deal – I mean in this case nobody is going to cart me off to bad-neighbor jail. But this problem can have serious consequences.
Through my experience coaching tons of entrepreneurs I know many, many have the “I-don't-know-what-the-hell-I'm-doing” secret - sadly living life in the confines of the Closed Window room.
If you've been in business for a couple of years or longer and have trouble reading your financial statements or creating marketing objectives or having conversation regarding pricing platforms or profitability models and feel too embarrassed to ask because you've been in business “too long” you may be living in the oxygen-depleted Closed Window room. Sadly the room is probably crowded.
To continue the metaphor and get you breathing again, I say boldly open that window, shake off the shame and declare that small business by its very nature is about long term learning. Pretending you know what you don't know is exhausting and is a road to nowhere.
Decide today there is no such thing as “being in business too long” to ask small business questions. And no environment to intimidating to act as if you understand something that you don’t.
The same courage that took you out on a ledge to open your business is the same energy that can bring you into the room of understanding and possibly change unawareness into enlightenment.
And my experience says that enlightenment oftentimes leads happily to increased profitability.