riffs & rants blog

Stop Feeding Your Business Fast Food

Fast food is popular because it’s cheap, easy and filling. Instead of having to shop, chop and cook at home, we can have a multi-course meal placed in front of us in a matter of minutes at a fast-food joint, for less than the cost of preparing your own food.

This we know.

But what happens when we eat it every day? Entire documentaries have been made answering this question (see Super Sized Me, Fast Food Nation and others). We know what happens, we get fat, we get sick and eventually die younger than we should.

fast food
This we know.

What we may not as easily realize is that fast food mentality has spread into other areas of our lives as well. We want stuff cheap and we want it now, which is fine if what we really want is a pair of socks for $1.99 that will last 5 washes.

But what about the stuff that really matters, like your relationships, business or business relationships? Do you give them the fast food treatment as well? Many people do.

This we know.

People often devalue their businesses by saying, “that costs too much” or “it’ll take too much time”. If you go to a restaurant, read the menu posted in the window and tell yourself, “too expensive, I’ll go eat fast food”, then you are making a compromise on the quality of the experience and the products you will be consuming. You are not going to get organic produce or four-star service at a fast food restaurant, and you know that walking in the door.

So why do we expect differently for our businesses? We routinely skimp and feed our businesses fast food and sit back scratching our heads when things don’t work out and our businesses don’t thrive. We spend the equivalent of the price of a “value meal” and expect a nine-course meal on fancy china. Or, we eat the food and don’t pay the bill at the end because “it wasn’t what we expected.”

Did you really think when you hired 16 year old neighbor to design your logo that the end product was going to be awesome? How about that do-it-yourself website builder you saw in a TV ad? Once it’s live and it breaks or gets hacked, it doesn’t fix itself, does it? Ever try getting tech support for a free service? Good luck with that.

Yet we do it over and over again, chasing fast food with more fast food, throwing good money after bad. Before you realize it, you are thousands in the hole, spending it all on greasy cheeseburgers and fatty french fries.

You may find yourself so far in the hole, that when you decide to “get healthy and eat clean” you recoil in shock at the cost of fresh food and healthy living. In fact, you not only recoil at the shock, but you actually get angry at the farmers and chefs for charging so much for the good stuff. Often, you will even go as far as to refuse to pay for good food and healthy living, because dammit, it costs too much, who do they think they are?

But remember, you didn’t get mad at the people who sold you fast food for your business. You actually eagerly queued up with your credit card in hand, excited to pay for the new build-your-business-quick fodder. You were eager to pay because it was easy to get, cheap to get, made empty promises and smelled oh-so-good.

How important is the health and well-being of your business? If it’s important, quit feeding your business fast food. Stop giving in to get-rich-quick schemes and empty promises. Building a business is hard work and it doesn’t come cheap. You will need to spend time. You will need to spend money. You will need to spend yourself. You need the right people on the bus and the bus needs the right fuel in order to run well.

So what can you do to break the fast food habit in your business? Well, realizing you are a fast food addict is important, but it’s not enough. You really have to get the right support, both from other humans as well as your habits.
I ate the whole thing

First: Stay away from the get-rich-quick crowd and their shiny promises, completely. Go cold turkey. Significant work does not take shape overnight and get-rich-quick bullshit is all about getting you sucked in, not getting you results.

Second: Develop a laser-like focus. The resistance is strong when you are trying to do important work. When you get the impulses to check/search/research, you know resistance is rearing its ugly head, trying to keep you from what’s important. Write down what you want to accomplish, to as a touchstone to help you resist the “ooh shiny” that will inevitably cross your path.

Make your world smaller. Decide what is truly important to you and say no to everything else. Yes, everything. The world won’t stop turning when you start saying no to stuff that doesn’t fit your goals.

Not long ago, I figured out that only three things in life are important to me. When something comes up, if it does not fit in those three categories, I don’t do it and my life has gotten much easier and I am more focused, which is nothing short of a miracle for this squirrel.

Third: Let stuff go. If someone did you wrong, absorb the lesson, let it go and move on. By hanging on to it (by “it” I mean anger, resentment, feeling indignant), you end up punishing the people you meet moving forward for the crimes committed by the people in the past. There are people out there who can help you get to where you want to go.

As I’ve said before, you have to get smaller in order to grow. You also have to get slower in order to get faster. Your business will grow and so will you, if you are thoughtful, deliberate, conscious and take the time, energy and resources to feed it well.

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