Independence: A Wound to Profitability?

Some of the benefits in being an entrepreneur are to have freedom over our personal schedules, develop innovative ideas, find creative ways to troubleshoot problems, make things more efficient, think out of the box, and control our own destiny.

Would you agree with that statement?

After all, as entrepreneurs that is our badge of honor, right? Freedom and independence.

We don’t want anyone telling us we have to show up for work an hour earlier…

Can’t take our sick kids to the doctor appointment today…

Need to change our family vacation because a co-worker has that slot already…

Need to solve a problem the bosses way when the obvious perfect solution is right there…

Got moved to a different department due to downsizing…

Or worse, get handed a pink slip.

I’ll be the first to admit, after all these years of being family- or self-employed, I don’t think I could work for anyone else and not be totally miserable.

However, should our independence allow us to disregard wisdom? Does it morph to a point of stubbornness or digging in our heels where it actually hurts us?

What do I mean?

One of the businesses I operate has a connection with a group of similar independent business owners. We sell similar products and have the same dispensation methods for the most part. In fact, in many cases about the only difference in our businesses is the size, shape, and gender of the owners themselves.

In other words, we have a lot in common in our businesses.

That would mean we could discover something, learn something, or find a success in our independent business; then share it with others, and very likely they too would have that same success.

What’s even more is the way our business affiliation is set up, the better each individual business owner does, the stronger the group becomes as a whole fiscally. Talk about incentive to share information and help each other out, right?

Well, you’d think so, but here’s the rub.

A few of us have tried to get these folks to share information via an e-mail discussion list 3- or 4-different times now. After all, we are in different geographic locations, and while we get together once or twice a year at a conference, that doesn’t go too far in networking ideas and successes.

Unsuccessful in getting them to participate, shaking my head incredulously along with a few others who are not business owners but who are involved in this group, I came up with another idea.

I put together an e-mail informing this group that they have a chance at winning twenty-five bucks, proceeded to encourage them about the personal benefits of the discussion list, and reminded them what types of things we could share. All the while sprinkling in a total of four different times that they could win $25. All they needed to do was simply reply to the e-mail, give some ideas how they plan to grow their business, and pick a number from one to a thousand. The closest number to mine wins. I even e-mailed the number to a non-bias party for transparency.

All proud of myself for digging in my own pocket to try helping this group to participate in their own success, within a handful of hours I got a call.

A fellow business owner on the other end said they had gotten communications from other business owners wondering why they had to pay $25 to be a part of the e-mail discussion list.



Your what hurts?

I was literally open-mouthed and no words came out.

First, I immediately lose respect for someone who doesn’t have the hutzpah to pick up the phone or send me an e-mail directly asking, “What the hell are you getting at here?”

But, four times I’d Mentioned they could win $25 just for participating in their increased chance of success. All that was asked was to reply to the e-mail and share ideas so we can learn from each other.

And somehow I was soliciting money from them? Hmm.

Afterwards, I sent off a copy of the e-mail to other individuals not affiliated with the group to see if I in any way portrayed a solicitation. If I did, I’d own up to it and apologize.

These folks were just as perplexed as I.

I love to learn, and there is a huge lesson in this. As I said, I’m all for being independent, feeling free, being my own boss and all that. But I walked away from this experience reinforcing the principle of looking at the world for what it is, not with the motive of proving inaccurate assumptions.

You know, take the glasses off and not look through rose-colored ones, dark sunglasses, or ones green with envy or jealousy. Just look at it for what it is.

These folks really are nice, good people, I really like them, but if they would have actually read the four times I mentioned about possibly winning money, rather than seeing a dollar symbol and assuming that meant they had to pay, they would have read it in a whole different way.

Get this. Out of the twenty-six business owners the e-mail went out to, just one person red it and got it. One single person, that was it! Incredible. If it took that one person 5-minutes to reply, he earned $300 an hour just for responding.

I know the lack of response was not completely due to the twenty-five dollar thing. As I said, I’ve tried this before, this group has just dug in their heels. They don’t want anyone telling them what to do, or even worse, expose how they are doing things in case it turns out not to be right.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be wrong, find a new way, and improve my profits; rather than live in fear I may be doing something wrong, don’t want to admit I’m not the Warren Buffett of my industry, and increase my profitability by learning from others.

Honestly, I don’t take the inquisition or lack of response personally. And am I done trying to get this group united? I would if I saw no benefit from it. But no, I see the end result before it is realized, and it looks pretty good from where I sit. I might just pick up the phone and call each and every business owner to make sure they’d gotten it, find out why they didn’t respond, and take a new approach.

Listen, we can’t be so stubborn, so independent, so into ourselves that we ruin our opportunity to role model other peoples success and steer clear of pitfalls they’ve experienced.

Let’s do ourselves a favor in business, find ways of networking and hooking up with others who do what we do, learn from them, share what we’ve learned, even in sectors where competition is a concern, there are things we can learn from others.

And most of all, do not make assumptions about the world around us with the motive of only proving our own insecurities, fears, or self-righteous independence.

A very interesting study was done years ago, maybe you’ve heard about it. A group of individuals in a lab setting were given barbiturates, and another were given amphetamines.

The thing is, each group was told the opposite. That is to say, the barbiturate folks were told they were taking amphetamines, and vice versa.

What they found was an incredible result. Not all, but a good many of the people who were given barbiturates and told it was amphetamines? Experienced amphetamine symptoms, even though their body consumed the exact opposite.

If that doesn’t prove our pre-determined minds are capable of controlling how we experience the world around us and how we see it, I don’t know what will.

About Brad Dunse'

Freelance writer, entrepreneur, and life student of personal development with a passion for writing, learning, and helping others... a winning combination to live the writer's life! Looking for e-mail campaigns, web content, case studies, or more?
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2 Responses to Independence: A Wound to Profitability?

  1. Brad, great post, and nice to run into you by accident! How many of the people who thought it was a solicitation actually read it? I.e. did someone contact some of them and tell them you were soliciting and, instead of double-checking, they just assumed the person was correct?

    It reminds me of something that happened with my book, where someone who hadn’t read it was furious with me about the way I portrayed guide dogs, because someone else had told them what I wrote. There’s no safe haven from ignorance. Recently, a writer for the law journal, ABA Journal, interviewed me for hours about my objection to the lack of web access at the online subscription library Scribd. She portrayed my discontent as solely because I couldn’t read my own book there. Like I need to go there to read my book. I think it’s hopeless, but you have to keep on pushing through, following your inner dream of what could be. As strange as it sounds, people are too focused on their own self interests to actually recognize what those interests truly are.

  2. Brad DunseBrad DunseBrad Dunse says:

    Donna. Great to hear from you. Yes, there are far too many people who adopt the opinions of others on a topic rather than educate themselves and form their own opinion. I’m not sure there is any other description of that than laziness. In defense of that, we certainly can’t educate ourselves on every topic we run across in life enough to form an educated opinion, but in such cases perhaps silence is our best response. What did Abraham Lincoln say? “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

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