Everything has a shelf life . . .

Sometimes just a few words can cut through the clutter and bring clarity. I was reminded of that recently while having lunch with a couple of business owner friends. One was still feeling angst over a staff situation that had ended more than a year ago. The relationship had started on a promising note, brought many benefits to the employee, the owner and the company, but then began to deteriorate for a number of reasons. Eventually, the owner and the employee agreed to part ways. But the owner still beats herself up thinking about the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s that might have preserved the relationship.

In the midst of all this second guessing, the other business owner at our table, who had been silent through the bulk of lunch, said with a shrug, “Everything has a shelf life.” Simple words, delivered casually. But they packed a punch. Hearing them, my friend’s perspective shifted. I could tell by the look on her face she realized that it was not only okay the employee had moved on, it was right.

As I replayed the conversation later, I got to thinking about other things in our businesses that become stale or moldy, clearly outliving their shelf life. Yet we hang onto them anyway, perhaps because we’re emotionally attached, or because we mistakenly believe we can tweak this or change that and revive their freshness.

Often in business we think that adding something new is the way to pump up profits or inject new life into the company. Sometimes, the opposite is true. Sometimes, we need to face the hard reality and check the expiration dates on people, processes, and programs that may have served us well in the past but have become a drain on the present. Sometimes, we need to get smaller to get bigger. Sometimes, ironically, a tough and thorough purging of outdated systems and products past their prime may ultimately extend the shelf life of the company itself.

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About Smart Companies Thinking Bigger®

Kelly Scanlon is the owner and publisher of Thinking Bigger Business Media. She recently finished a term on the national board of directors of the National Association of Women Business Owners, and was the national chair from 2010-2011. An advocate for small business owners, Kelly sits on numerous boards and committees to advocate on behalf of small business owners. She has won several awards for her advocacy. Among them are the 2011 United Nations NGO Positive Peace Award on behalf of Kansas City area small business owners, the U.S. Small Business Administration's Region VII Women's Business Champion of the Year in 2009, and the Women in Business Advocate of the Year from the State of Kansas in 2006. In 2002, she won the SBA's Region VII Small Business Journalist of the Year Award (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas). Whatever your business stage—aspiring, startup, established, mature—Thinking Bigger Business Media has the resources you need to grow to the next level. We are a resource organization dedicated to providing the strategic, "how-to" information small business owners need to become more productive and more profitable. We also provide information that helps owners connect with resources within the business community that can help them grow. We deliver that information through a variety of media products and other channels easily accessible to business owners.
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