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Are “Kids” Killing Your Business?

December 27, 2013
Stopsign

Photo courtesy of David Whelan

Four months ago, I moved in to a new house with a tankless water heater. The water in the shower didn’t heat up to what I thought it should. At best, it was lukewarm.

I assumed this was a water heater issue. I’d never had a tankless one before, so I maybe “lukewarm” was as good as it got…

But it wasn’t that — it had to do with “rules” for hot water. Apparently, lots of kids were getting scalded. So today, plumbers can’t legally set the temperature on water heaters above 120 degrees.

And to make sure no renegade plumbers have other ideas, the water heater company, Rinnai, has a governor in place. If you want water above 120 degrees, you have to open up your water heater, take off a safety cover, and flip some dip switches.

Which is exactly what I did.

Now my water is hotter than ever.

And here’s the lesson for you

Don’t Let “Kids” Stop You

The world is full of things that will slow you down — little “speed bumps” which are probably good for most people, but not necessarily the best for you.

As far as hot water goes, a few kids (and possibly negligent parents) was all it took to change options for everybody else. As far as your business goes, the same thing applies.

When I started in the music business, the only viable option to get good quality recordings of music was to go to the record store and buy them. Today, it’s a different story.

When I released my first book, it was ink on paper. Today, books are pixels on a digital screen.

So what? You can work around just about everything. And these limitations, just like limitations occurring in your business, can actually be very positive. With as many musicians and authors as there are complaining about how technology has changed their businesses, very few would actually want to go back to how things were without it, because this new technology also has a lot of benefits.

The Upside of Limitations

Sure, you can’t release music or books like you used to, but limited options, whether self-imposed or otherwise, have an upside…

Ever wonder why some of the best computer programmers come from the poorest countries? One of the reasons is that you get really good at computer programming when you only have access to limited computer power and have to make the most of it.

Limited information can also have positive results…

Chet Atkins, the famed guitar player, could play two parts at once. He learned to do this because, as a kid, he didn’t know the records he was learning from were actually recordings of two players.

If you want to test this concept for yourself, the next time you brainstorm ideas, add limitations. This almost always will help you think of more ideas than without any limitations. For example, if you’re thinking of gifts to give somebody, add the limitation that you’ll spend $20 or less.

The Takeaway

You can accept “rules” at face value and bitch about them, without really questioning things. That’s what most people do.

Or you can let the limitations of rules force you to come up with something even better than before.

What rule is it time for you to work around?

ABOUT THIS SERIES: Every Friday, I give tips on how to build the foundation needed to have a successful business and platformSee other posts in this series here and, if you have a request for me to cover something specific, let me know via Twitter.