Humans rarely make noteworthy changes in their lives unless they are in psychic pain, have suffered for a while and have become rather hopeless about their future. Personal or business partnerships as well as customer relationships aren’t made overnight and don’t break up quickly or easily. If problems develop there are generally disagreements, discussions, demands or even pleading before we call it quits. We don’t like to change, don’t want to do the work needed, and usually don’t know how to fix things or what to do next. We know we’re not happy and things aren’t working but can we fix it or do we need to move on? This is complicated.

If partners, customers, employees, and/or key people are pushing you for changes, listen. The higher the level of noise, the more immediate the need for change is. When the noise stops it’s too late. It’s over. You may not care about a specific loss, but if there’s a pattern of losses and ongoing frustrations or the noise has gone on for a while, heed the warnings and enjoy the noise. Accept that something is wrong and you haven’t run out of time to fix it — yet.

If you ignore or deny that there are issues, making excuses for others’ unhappiness, like they’re too stubborn, don’t fit, don’t get it, “they, they, they,” I’ll promise you continued deterioration! Denial creates more stress than accepting that change is required. Denial keeps you in the same place. Accepting there’s a problem, even if you have no idea what to do about it, can be cathartic. Acceptance is the beginning of the end of your stress and the first step towards change. What’s your number on the stress meter, 1 or 10? Be honest, you’re the only one listening.

Many folks feeling a lot of stress think they need to sell their company, fire people, dump their vendor, toss out their partner or throw out customers. This could actually be what’s needed but sometimes these actions just make it worse! Good people may say, “I’m out of here!” Good customers may get panicky about other customers leaving or trusted employees being let go. To reduce your stress, accept that something is wrong and stop right there. Define what’s not working, not what you’re going to do about it. Generally speaking the problem is more complicated than any quick fix might allow. And if you’re not applying the correct fixes, the solution never comes and you’re adding to your problems.

If you’re making changes but keep having problems, you’re simply moving pieces on a chess board but not solving anything. It’s easy to say that sales isn’t managing our customers well. But is your system set up to manage your customers? We’re not growing, so let’s change salespeople. Is your product competitive enough, priced correctly, fitting the market’s needs? Identifying the core of the issues affecting your business is what solves problems. You’ll be amazed how easy developing the right solution is if you acknowledge what’s really causing the problems.

If your business is not fun anymore, there are too many cranky people, you’re not moving forward, you’re tired, have had enough, then it’s time to bring in an impartial third party to review your situation, identify the real issues/solutions and restore balance. This could be a consultant, a specialist or perhaps even a new operator; but it should be someone who has a history of fixing issues and moving businesses forward. It shouldn’t be a friend or relative, but someone who is completely impartial, will tell it like it is and can meet the challenges in the way your company needs. This is not a one book, one way or one system fix-all. It’s personal, it’s about your business, your people, your goals, success and happiness.

Asking for help has too often been perceived as a personal weakness as we’ve been raised to be independent and self-sufficient. That’s ridiculous and a waste of your precious time. It takes guts to ask for help.

 For more information on recognizing when you’re denying or missing the issues facing your business, check out my blog on