I grew up with a mom who was adamant that I always follow the rules.  Never hit, always do your homework, never cheat… It was while playing CatchPhrase this weekend with some friends that I discovered cheating is OK.  Bear with me for a moment. If you don’t know CatchPhrase, it’s a hand held electronic game that shows a short phrase on it’s digital readout while the beep beep beep increases with speed while you try to get your friends to guess the phrase so you can pass it to the next person for their turn.  After playing this thing all weekend, my wife and I noticed the phrases starting to repeat themselves.  My wife and I suggested we should find a new category or game to play.  But our friends never stopped!  They kept right on going along playing the game and passing it along.  It was then I realized that they weren’t cheating (as my mom would have told me), they were just getting better because they had played the game enough to have seen all the phrases and they weren’t going to let the fact that they knew the answers get in the way of their enjoyment of winning.

So with my wonderfully competitive friends in mind, and the competitive space getting increasingly more threatening, this list can help you cut through the self imposed regulations you put on yourself that keep you from getting the success you deserve in your small business.

Set Easy Goals

Why bother with sky-high goals? Not saying you shouldn’t write down “Be a millionaire”, this is more about having something specific to shoot for like, “Sell Widgits”. Keeping it simple like this make sure that everything else you do is built around this primary purpose. It’s too easy to get distracted in today’s world with “value ads”, “it’s not what you sell, it’s how you sell it”, etc. Write this on the top of your to do list every day to remind you what your primary purpose is; it will keep you from getting off track.

Take short-cuts

My mom had me thinking it was better to take an “F” on my book report than to read the Cliff Notes.  I can understand that reading “Huck Finn” is a more than just book, but give me the gist of the story now and I’ll do the full read on my next vacation. I f there is a way to shave off time or money to get the job done, take advantage of it!

Get Help

It’s out there, and in more forms than you might think.  Sure, you could spend money on good consulting help – nothing wrong with bringing in an expert.  But I’m a people person.  I like surrounding myself with people that are smarter than me.  In addition, there are oodles of podcasts, RSS feeds, blogs, magazines, tweets, etc. that will give you  little bits of great information.  This kind of atmosphere keeps me learning, and keeps me humble enough to keep asking when I don’t know – or even when I think I do!

Compromise

There are two main types of compromise.  First is the kind where my wife is involved, not what I’m talking about here.  The kind of compromise I’m talking about is the Information Compromise.  It’s nice when you can make a fully informed decision.  Nice but rare.  My operations guy is detail oriented to the nth degree which is great! But he’ll spend 15 minutes mining data to get 80% of what we need, and several hours trying to get that last 20%.  Making decisions with partial information is a compromise, and I say make the decision and move on to the next one.

Copy Somebody Else

Mom said not to copy others so I naturally thought that I had to come up with completely original ideas.  Wrong!  Some of the best ideas is taking some other idea and improving on it! Just make sure to add you own spin to it to keep your business unique.

Laugh

Don’t take yourself too seriously.  Remember that creativity comes much easier when you’re not trying so hard.