Running is a small business is as much an art as it is a skill – perhaps even more so.

Certainly you can approach your business as though it’s a set of skills you learn and then implement. Yet I’ve found, for myself at least, that running my business like this has no life. You can create success and make tons of money, but what’s the end game?

For me, having my own business is about living life. I utilize my business to aid me in creating the lifestyle I want. My life is not, however, my business just as my business is not my life. What my business gets me is an opportunity to live the life that I – and my family – want. And for us, that’s the end game.

So I tend to approach business as being from part of my lifestyle. Which means I bring everything I know into my business. Certainly that includes marketing strategy, business development, and sales. Yet it also means I look at business with an eye toward spirituality, life purpose and philosophy.

Now I don’t see spirituality and philosophy as being something to push through business – as many are doing today. Their approach is to create spirituality in business – and that’s fine for them. It’s simply not how I approach my own business.

My approach is take the teachings, the lessons and the knowledge I’ve gained studying philosophy or practicing spirituality and live them inside my business. So words such as integrity or honesty have meaning to me in my business not because they seem like ways to gain an advantage over the competition or generate more sales. Rather, applying these concepts in my own inner life is the foundation in which my business is built. For me, it can be no other way.

So often, when I look to solve a business problem for myself or a client or I want to make some part of my business model better, I turn to philosophy and spiritual teachings. And just this past weekend I opened again, for the first time in years, Sun-Tzu’s The Art of War. And the first passage I read included:

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.

Now, of course, Sun-Tzu’s writing about military strategy in The Art of War. But the book really presents a complete philosophy for managing conflicts and winning clear victories. For instance, Sun-Tzu writes, Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.

So consider the gem I rediscovered in considering strategy and tactics. What Sun-Tzu offers is so fundamental that there is no debate that can deem his words untrue.

If we go off and just implement our ideas without forethought or planning, we end up failing. Sure, we may gain some success in the short term, but in the long run we’ll either find out selves in a cul-de-sac or out of steam.

And if we spend so much time on planning and trying to forsee all the pitfalls and possible road bumps along the way, we may move forward, but the pace will be painfully slow. So slow that we could find ourselves questioning whether we belong doing our business or not.

There is a fine balance between planning and implementation. The two dance together in a healthy, sustainable business model. You want to be planning and visioning for the future, and at the same time you want to be implementing your plan so that your business can build some momentum and so you can learn what in your strategy works or not. Then, you will grow at a pace that’s sustainable.

How are you managing and balancing your strategies with your tactics? And what have you learned from it?

And perhaps as interesting…do you use the wisdom of those who came before us to help you gain perspectives in   your business? If so, how?

Let’s talk about it.

(note:  image from  jocuristrategice.ro/)

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. JBO says

    Firstly – nice post.

    Ultimately my goal for owning a business is to have more time with my family and more flexibility for when I work.

    The issue is that to start a business, such an immense amount of time goes into it, it seems to have the opposite effect.

    Also I can quite see how people, after years of hard work, feel their business is their life as tehy have spent so long working so hard they have forgot about how to live a life with more freedom – does that make any sense?

  2. Piper says

    It makes perfect sense! Great post too!

    So often one gets an idea that it would be so easy to just start up a business.
    Granted some are easier than others. In my opinion if your looking for low overhead, do a service business where you barely need a lot on expenses going out. An example: A poop scoop service that all you need to do is take a shovel, a bucket and some bleach. You will need a car too!

    See what I’m saying?
    A lot of times, people do not factor in the overhead and the minute details that will slow them down.
    Yet it’s vital to get those small details in order. Usually prior to launching.
    I think a lot of times people don’t factor in the constant leg work either.

  3. Sid Savara says

    Dawud,

    I agree. I especially liked your discussion about the balance between planning and implementation. I struggle with the same issue – I want to go out there and just “do” but I know without sufficient planning, I won’t be as successful. I wrote a post on this subject as well which I think you will enjoy, titled “Are You Really Working – or Just Using Metawork as an Excuse to Avoid Real Work? ”

    http://sidsavara.com/personal-productivity/are-you-really-working-or-just-using-metawork-as-an-excuse-to-avoid-real-work

    I don’t mean to spam, and if you feel it is inappropriate delete the link, but I think you will enjoy the article, and find it touches on some similar themes.

    Sid

  4. Eiffe says

    The thought of making money online is so cool. You dont have to do the maual labor most jobs require. Its truly the advent of the future.

  5. Utah Web Design says

    Having integrity and honesty is the key to being successful. Although there is some debate as to the nice guys always finish last.

    I feel it is imperative to run a business with good principles.

  6. Mark says

    I’m in online business for 9 years and it’s like rollercoaster. When you open the bakery then its definitely more predictable business because you know that your business will be similar in year or in 5. But with online business it’s still totally different battleground. Few years ago we were all optimizing for Altavista search engine and who knows Altavista now? All is about Google. And also few years ago there was totaly different demographic group of people online (usually high salaried professionals) and now there are so many surfers from third world countries that it blows my mind. Compare it to regular brick and mortar business doing some kind of reselling.

  7. wilson says

    One of the benefits of having your business online is your business will have the potential to be grown instantly than the traditional type, and there will be lots of customers from all around the world visit your online business websites…

  8. Aaron says

    Good post.
    It is tough to strike the right balance between strategy and tactics. I find I have to set aside time on the calendar dedicated to strategic planning. Otherwise, my entire day is consumed with tactical “next actions”.
    In my strategic planning, I like to think of the desired outcome for a product, business, or team accomplishment. I’ll then write a blog post, email, or powerpoint deck announcing the success with details and future date it. I’ll save it as a draft, and get back to the tactics with a crystal clear focus of the endgame.

    Thanks,
    Aaron

  9. HIP says

    A small business can provide the lifestyle you desire though intially can seem the complete opposite. This is where belief in yourself comes in and long tand short terms goal come in.

    In time you will reap the rewards of your hard work and gain the lifestyle you wanted

  10. stocks says

    A spiritual approach to business? Interesting. I can’t say that I’ve ever heard that. Certainly a lot of Asian businessmen would agree with you completely.

    Nice post. I enjoyed this.

    Glenny

  11. GeckoGo Travel says

    The Art of War is a book that can definitely be applied to a lot of business situations. Business has been around for an exceptionally long time and it only makes sense that we try to make use of past wisdom, even in areas which may not be immediately obvious.

  12. Aibal's Psychology says

    All too often I’ll have a brilliant idea and when it materializes, I’ll realize that I didn’t put enough forethought into it. But this temporary setback allows me to alter and correction the actions that I made and eventually produce a better product.

    If I hadn’t gone ahead and made the mistakes, it’s possible that I’d never have learned how to do it the right way.

    Also, I love how working for myself has allowed me to enjoy life without the constraints of a 9-to-5 job. Kickboxing at noon, an afternoon nap on the beach — these are luxuries that are paid for by my own hard work an ingenuity.

  13. Botox to Much says

    I recently have been pondering wether or not my own ambitions and goals are right for me. I have been guilty of jumping in with both feet and not really giving much foresight as to the possible pitfalls that lay in my path. I have received short term gains over and over again and this has made it hard to decipher if i am losing the long-term battle. A friend of mine suggested that I explore other avenues as it is clear that I am repeatedly disappointing myself and seem to be only treading water. Your writing has made me feel good about the fact that my current troubles must have happened to many in the past. I guess i’m not alone and i need to develop a strategy instead of using tactics that continuously slap me in the face. Cheers. – nice post.

  14. Raj Krishnaswamy says

    First of all great article. I also like the way you use the excerpts from philosophers in to your business, such as honesty, integrity and the like. These values, I have found, provide results many years down the road. Traditional businesses test one’s stamina and commitment quite a bit as in my case and one cannot survive for years unless there is strong belief in your self, strategies for success and above all implementing the strategies as you have pointed out. I do want to point out to commenter Wilson above that even in traditional businesses, one can get customers worldwide as I have done as long as you have a unique product with great quality and a phenomenal price. It is uniqueness that attracts customers, not necessarily the channel of marketing. Enjoyed the discussion quite a bit. Thank you, Sir.

  15. Plumber says

    As a plumber myself, I have to say, the jobs are extremely difficult. Even with 20 years experience in the industry, I still run across jobs that I either need help with, or I have to be really imaginative to make them happen.

    Good discussion.

  16. Lindsay says

    Great post. I’m big on lifestyle design too. I work part-time, make a full-time income, and can work from anywhere in the world (with wifi!), and I love this kind of freedom. I can’t imagine going back to being tied down.

    Building assets or businesses that can eventually create passive income is crucial. Any aspiring (or current) business owners out there should definitely read Gerber’s E-Myth book. Gerber isn’t quite as ancient and quoted as Sun Tzu, but he’s pretty good 🙂

  17. GPS For Today says

    I really agree with JBO, realizing that the time and commitment to get a business off the ground is really important. For me it helps me put all my work into perspective in that I know that by starting my own business I will one day have more time to spend with my family – which is my real passion in life. But right now working two jobs (the regular day job and the start-up business job) my time is stretched thin, I am tired, and I get locked into a work-work-work mode that is dangerous for the health of my business and my sanity. The words about having both a plan and quality implementation are very wise indeed.

  18. Charity says

    >>My life is not, however, my business
    >>just as my business is not my life.

    I think it’s really nice that you are able to separate your small business from your life. I left the cubicle world to work on my own thing a while back and it has been very stressful and consuming. Since there’s no simple 9-5 schedule it’s easy to spend the whole day making something better. I wish I had your ability to keep these two things independent.

  19. Small Business Fleet Tracking says

    This balancing act is really very difficult. There are quiet a few times when I see myself becoming either a hyper planner or hyper implementor. I will spend weeks thinking an planning my next move and then nothing really comes of or it. Alternatively, I will hammer away like a mad man until I get burnt out a week later. Trying to find the right mix for my home based small business has been a challenge, but slowly and surely I think I am making some headway into striking the right balance.

    Information is power, but power without application is wasted energy.

  20. Write Business Plans says

    I honestly agree, though there at times though in my opinion, having your own business tends to have a really thin line between the biz being your life and your being your biz.

    The endgame is what matters though, achieving your goals through all the effort you can give is the real prize.

  21. Tom At The Home Business Archive says

    Good post.The internet has enabled many people to become small business owners because it is a lot easier and cheaper to start a business online than offline.A much bigger audience too.The freedom that a small business brings can be a bit overwhelming for many.

  22. Health Faculty Jobs says

    I enjoyed your post. I am in the same boat. Having my own homed based small business enables me to be home with my family, to see my wife, to watch my kids grow. Before I started my business I went to work and earned a living but it wasn’t until after I have been home that I realize how much you can miss being out all day. I know most people can’t be home, but God had blessed me with this.

  23. Mark says

    I had many ups and downs in my life. After every 2-3 years I reach at the peak and then in only one day, i fall to the bottom. Then I changed my mind and have left to use shortcuts because they always lead ot a dead end. Now I know what am I doing and am doing it according to all spiritual and mind satisfaction.

  24. Mike Huang says

    These days it seems like every single person that uses the Internet is somehow starting their own business. It’s like anyone can do it now. LOL.

  25. Tips for business managers says

    Planning and having clear goals is very important, and should be an ongoing process, regardless of the size or type of business. And there should be a balance of course, doing what it takes to reach those goals and follow the plan is fundamental as well, both planning and doing should go hand by hand on a constant basis.

  26. Eric Shan says

    small businesses may be able to take advantage of small windows of opportunity where risk adverse larger businesses follow rather than lead into new areas and opportunities. Another advantage of being a small business is in being closer to conversations with customers, where you can listen carefully to what they have to say, and how they say it. Keep listening, and be responsive.:)

  27. Afreshup says

    Nice Blog, I actually came for the link, but ended up spending 35 minutes reading here! Ok, the best way I think I can contribute is to ask the gallery a question or two.

    1. Did anyone else put on 15 pounds since they began running their own business?
    2. How many people have started their home business out of a necessity rather than entrepreneurship. I was a loan officer for 15 years …we all know where thats going …anyway … grat blog.

  28. Erica- Copywriters Needed/Make $200/hr says

    I think my problem is that I focus to much on the Business ideas and not the marketing strategy.

    It is all very confusing. If you are anything like my college buddy and friend, she spends most of her time coming up with Business plans but does not do enough research. She called me yesterday saying she wanted to start a jewelry franchise, but did not know what the name of the franchise was or that you have to pay a yearly fee for the use of the franchise name. That is why Business classes do help.

  29. Aubrey Clark says

    Strategy without tactics and tactics without strategy are mistakes. My problem is that I thought these two actions were the same.

    Meaning if I plan to attack a niche within the wedding market, which I do, When I plan my strategy this is basically planning my tactics.

    I know I am asking a naive question, but can someone give me a real worl example of the differences?

  30. Niki says

    First nice and useful article

    I am making money online It so cool. No matter that I am working much more then before and I am having less profit so far, but I like doing this.

    keep posting Dawud I have you in my feed reader

  31. Peter latterkonsulent says

    I also think of worling for myself as more of a lifestyle then job. I am an extreme b person and can just work when it suits me. Be that 2 aclock in the morning

    Most of the wisdom i use in my business is from other parts of life, not philosophy, but all the issues that I know something about. using the experiences i have.

  32. Bijou en Argent Tibetain says

    Nice article, and some thoughtful eastern philosophy.

    Looks like timing is the key here. Knowing when to implement your ideas is important but extremly difficult. You want to be ready to jump in the business, but when exactly, depends upon experience.

  33. Proxy says

    U described the business in very professional way …without the proper planning or ground work no one can get success it leads to disaster

  34. BonScott says

    Man I really love your blog.
    THis is the third post I ve read and drop my jaw to the floor.
    Some of the things are really eyeopening and as I said once I am sorry I am bit late in finding your blog.

    Keep up the good work .

    Regards

  35. SEO Blogging says

    This is great tips of building business. I like this kind of your info here. Good job Dawud.

    One more thing, can you list down of tips SEO in building website? Thanks.

  36. Brennan says

    I think it is tough to try to balance running your own business and finding time to do what you want to. A lot of us start a small business to have “freedom” but end up working so much we actually lose some.

  37. Land Agents says

    I agree with the above post. I did think about starting my own business but then soon discovered how much hassle it would actually be! You lose so much of your free time it is a joke!

  38. The Baldchemist says

    Hello Dawud.
    Nice one as usual. As I always say, Creative of any sort without strategy is only art.
    Take good care and have a wonderful year.
    Those that sit on their hands waiting for good times will be last as usual.
    Cheers
    The Baldchemist

  39. Mannan / RosterPortal says

    I think that a lot of small business owners are bogged down with the mundane chores of business (orders & staff hassles) and are unable to really focus on tactics and strategies to properly market their business.

  40. Direct Home Loan says

    Dawud,

    First of all this is a great article.

    Every small business men must keep this tips including me also. I appreciated of Dawud articles. because every post has a something related pictures.

    Thanks Dawud.

  41. faculty jobs says

    Good post!!. “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art.” The internet has enabled many people to become small business owners. Businesses that can eventually create passive income is crucial.

  42. Lifestyle Design says

    until today, I still experiment with the proper balance. I have been doing it for a long time, I feel closer to that balance with each test, or business i do.

    My goal is always to be able to get passive income without me doing too much. That’s also a reason, i think, why it takes me longer sometimes to find that balance.

  43. Go Beach Rental! says

    “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

    I love it when people use Sun Tzu in business speak. 🙂 Regardless, I think the point is to always be moving. I would go so far as to distill Sun Tzu’s quote into this: thinking and doing. One or the other alone is just about as usual as neither.

  44. Planning says

    My former boss talked about analysis paralysis when making decisions. IE you can think and think about something, but if you don’t act its useless. Thats how I approach my small business

  45. Medical Assistant says

    The Art of War has many useful insights for business. Both planning and action are needed to make positive progress with businesses. It takes a lot of balancing and communication.

  46. Web Design Enthusiast says

    I agree that running a business, small or big, is a skill combined with art. And having a great business idea is a gift from God, but implementing it to a success is your gift to God. Doesn’t matter if it is small or big, as long as your applying the right virtue and philosophy, you’re on the go for a sure success.

    One thing I like of owning a business, is I can choose the lifestyle i want, and I can pass this down to my siblings.

    Thanks for sharing this thought, this really a great post and I like it.

  47. Crystal Andus says

    Hi Dawud,

    This is again a great post!

    I agree, having a good balance between planning and implementing the plans are really important part of any business.

    And yes, you can live a life of your choice. Time management is the key to success and peace in your personal and professional life.

    Thanks for the guidance

Trackbacks

  1. […] The Art of Being a Small Business Owner by Dawud Miracle… Do you live life for your small business, or do you have a small business to support the lifestyle you want for you and your family? That is a Big Question, you may want to take a look at this article by Dawud to help decide which way you are heading. […]

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