Why Running a Business is a lot like Catching a Raccoon
By: Miki Agrawal, author of Do Cool Sh*t: Quit your Day Job, Start your own Business and Live Happily Ever After (Harper Collins, 2013)
Nobody really knows exactly what they are doing in business when they first start, even if they’ve been to business school, but over time, we see patterns, experience familiar ups and downs, and the way we deal with issues gets easier and easier.
A Lesson in Termination
I remember the time I first had to let a manager go. I avoided the confrontation for as long as I could, but I knew that keeping this person in this management position was screwing things up for the business in the long run.
I was scared to have the conversation and start over by myself again, but it was this experience that taught me how to face challenging circumstances.
Now, if I ever feel scared or uncomfortable about something or someone, I can face it and know that I will always come out stronger and with more understanding because of it.
Building Business Relationships
I learned that making good business relationships is no different than making good friends. Trust needs to be built, honoring your word is important, and having a good time getting to know the other is equally important.
Let the Nut Go!
One of the most important things in business and in life is that we have to be OK letting things go. It may be hard but it’s the key to positive change. Releasing things actually feels so good and it can even save your life!
The best way to catch a raccoon is to create a small hole in the mud. Put spikes on the sides facing inward, and put a nut down in the bottom of the hole. The raccoon will put his pay in the hole and grab the nut. If he tries to pull his paw out while holding the nut, the spikes will rip his arm out and he will die. However, if he lets go of the nut, his arm will safely come out of the hole. The tragedy is that the raccoon will never let go of the nut and eventually he will die.
The moral of the story is: let the nut go! The things that you are holding dear will mean nothing if you will die trying to hold on to them.
A Cool Sh*t Exercise
Detach yourself from your business. Take a 1,000-meter approach and look at where your business was when it started, where it is now, and where it can go. See what things could be improved if you could lose your attachment to them and be open to change.
Is there anything holding back your business or anything that no longer fits? Holding on to things for the sake of nostalgia doesn’t make sense. Life and work is iterative. Doing cool s**t is an exercise in evolution.
Excerpted with permission of the publisher, Harper Collins, from Do Cool Sh*t: Quit your Day Job, Start your own Business and Live Happily Ever After by Miki Agrawal. Copyright (c) by Miki Agrawal. This book is available at all bookstores and online booksellers.
Miki Agrawal is a serial social entrepreneur, keynote speaker and TV personality. She was a recipient of the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival's "Disruptive Innovation Award" and named 2013's Forbes' "Top 20 Millenials on a Mission." She is an identical twin, half-Japanese, half-Indian French Canadian, former professional soccer player and graduate of Cornell University.