Before you can get out of your own way, you have to come to terms with the fact that you may be in your own way. This can be a hard pill to swallow for many firm owners, as we all like to think we’re experts at our craft.
And you are! But that doesn’t mean you’re an expert at everything else that comes along with running a successful firm. So, let’s start there. But don’t worry, once we talk about what it means to be “in your own way,” I’ll give you some help on clearing your own roadblocks—even if those roadblocks are (no offense) you!
Are you in your own way?
At Roundtable Labs, the original community for accounting and bookkeeping professionals since 2015, we frequently talk about getting out of your own way. In fact, we have an entire cohort of our community built around it. But what does it mean to be in your own way? No one wants to think they’re the cause of their own obstacles, but more often than not, it’s true.
It starts (and ends) in your head. I’m not saying “it’s all in your head” like you’re imagining it. I’m saying that the root of many bookkeeping and accounting professionals’ and firm owners’ problems is mental, more than anything coming at them from outside forces.
Your brain is smart, obviously, or you wouldn’t be doing what you’re doing. But it also evolved over millions of years to serve as your primary defense mechanism. Since the dawn of time, our brains have done their very best to protect us from lions, tigers, bears, famines, floods, and everything else our ancestors faced.
If you’ve ever felt fear—and who hasn’t?—that’s your brain taking care of you. If you’re being tracked by a mountain lion or trying to escape a shark on your surfboard, those fears are vital for self-preservation. But what about when you want to build your business? What’s so dangerous about that? You may not “think” this is a threatening scenario, but your brain has a different opinion.
The “what-if” monster. Our brains are hard-wired to see everything as a threat. In fact, our brains are particularly great at imagining what threats are possible, even if one doesn’t exist. This is how humans have made it to the year 2022, but some of these biological circuits aren’t so helpful in a world where we don’t need to fight for survival every minute.
It’s very common that when we start to learn something new, do something different, or otherwise move outside of our comfort zone, our brain’s “what-if monster” goes into overdrive. Similar to imposter syndrome, the what-if monster shows up when you start to see success on the horizon.
Let’s say you’re about to land the biggest client of your career. Do you feel incredibly confident? Or do you start to hear your what-if monster’s voice saying:
- What if I can’t handle it?
- What if it’s too much work?
- What if I do something wrong?
- What if they don’t like me?
- What if I screw this up?
That’s the what-if monster slowly devouring every inkling of confidence you’ve cultivated. A few other telltale signs that you may be standing in the way of your own success include:
- Feeling like your firm is stagnating, or even declining.
- An inability to delegate, possibly thanks to your need to be in control.
- Working more hours, but not getting the income you’d like (hint: it could be your pricing model).
- Struggling to make a leap from a single-person firm to having a staff.
- Lacking any semblance of work-life harmony, in either direction–too much work or too much play,
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in business a day, a month, or 20 years; the what-if monster can strike anyone at any time. What makes successful firm owners stand apart from less successful ones is the knowledge, skills, and abilities to slay their what-if monster. Another key ingredient that separates the top firm owners from others is a supportive group of peers who can be a sounding board and provide guidance because they’ve been there before.
And, spoiler alert: It’s really hard to do this alone.
Change your mindset to get out of your own way
It’s easy to blame circumstances for your firm’s shortcomings, right? You can’t find or keep good staff, your clients are the worst, your internet is always going down, and so on, and so forth. While these factors may be true, they aren’t at the root of your struggles. So what is?
Brace yourself for a truth-bomb: The number one problem standing in the way of your success is you!
Think about it … You have habits you know don’t serve you. You have beliefs that aren’t true and aren’t helpful. You have processes that are inefficient, yet you can’t let go of, even though you’re constantly thinking, “there’s got to be a better way!”
Whatever your specific issues, it’s likely that you’re living in the land of doubt with the what-if monster breathing down your neck. It’s not a fun place to be, but the good news is, you don’t have to stay there!
How exactly do you get out of your own way?
I’m glad you asked! The answer is extremely simple and extremely difficult. While it’s way too much to cover in just one blog, the basics include these and other mastering concepts:
- Balance means both giving and taking.
- Overwhelm is real.
- Time isn’t your enemy.
- Mistakes are opportunities.
- Slow down to speed up.
- Harmony isn’t only for choirs.
If this topic resonates with you, we’ll be discussing everything in more depth at our upcoming session How to Get Out of Your Own Way at QuickBooks Connect 2022 in Las Vegas. If you’re attending the conference, make sure to sign up for this session in advance before it reaches capacity. How to Get Out of Your Own Way is happening Thursday, Dec, 8 at 8 a.m.
Even if you’re not an early morning person, I promise this is a can’t miss and you won’t find a session with more laughs and more insights!* Your hosts and speakers will include me (Richard Roppa-Roberts of Quasar Cowboy and Roundtable Labs, Ufuoma Ogaga of Goshen Accounting Services, Alexis Sadler Chief Executive Officer, Accounting Therapy Inc., and Martha Yasso founder of Yasso Bookkeeping Solutions.
*Except for our other Roundtable Labs sessions; check out the full schedule to make sure you catch them all.