coaching Entrepreneurs Management Personal development Small Business

Does practice pay off for a small business owner?

Yesterday, I was speaking with a music teacher about how she teaches high school kids to play faster pieces of music than they are used to playing.

It’s really a simple technique and it revolves around fundamentals.

They start playing the fast piece very slowly, a measure at a time, breaking it down note by note, then playing it repeatedly. As they perfect it at one tempo, they speed up. This process repeats until they nail it at the tempo that will be used during the performance. The more advanced the group is, the more quickly they learn the piece and accelerate the tempo.

Your business isn’t much different. Most small business people start out as technicians of some kind. They know tires, baking, sewing, programming or landscaping. They might have taken years as an employee to develop and perfect their skill or craft and become an expert.

At some point, they get the bug and go out on their own and became an entrepreneur.

But…they might not have been an expert at running a business, or marketing, or management, or finance. It’s difficult to be an expert at 4000 things, but that is sorely tempting to the entrepreneur.

Instead of practicing a short list of business fundamentals, creating the equivalent of the athlete’s muscle memory, you feel obligated to dabble in a little of everything, remaining an expert at nothing except for your technician skills.

Wouldn’t it make sense to practice a short list of fundamental skills and become competent at them rather than try and perfect 4000 different skills?

5 time martial arts (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, among others) world champion Lloyd Irvin comes to mind. He told me last April that he doesn’t bother learning a bunch of new trick moves “guaranteed” to defeat an opponent, but instead practices the fundamental moves of his art until they are instinctive. His reasoning is that when being attacked, or panicked, you will forget the trick moves and fall back to fundamentals. If you are the master of fundamentals as compared to your opponent, then you will likely come out the winner (and in his case, that’s exactly what happened).

So how do you apply that to your business? Practice fundamentals. Training yourself and your staff so the “muscle memory” in your mind is as good as the muscle memory that Tiger Woods develops by hitting 2000 drives a day.

If you run your business by the seat of your pants, and don’t practice and train to perfect the skills needed to perform at your best, who do you think will win when the Tiger Woods of your industry comes along?

3 replies on “Does practice pay off for a small business owner?”

I just wanted to say that I loved your article. I too believe that it is very important to be an expert at the fundamentals. I’m a photographer who decided to start a small business. Actually I wouldn’t even call it a small business yet, it’s just been started and Iâ??m still learning how to attract clients and keep them interested in my work. I decided that in order to stand out and be different from the other photographers in my area that I would give the customer the option of shooting the pictures indoor with a background, or taking them into the outdoors and let nature be the background. I’m still learning, that’s for sure. The other thing that a small business owner needs to know that I wasn’t told about before hand is how important it is to have a company logo. I’ve recently found out that some people call it corporate branding. A symbol that sets your company apart from others seems to be important. It was suggested to me, by a fellow blogger, that I visit a website called and choose a logo. I did, and I must say that Iâ??m very happy I chose to do so. I can now make all my advertising from my brochures, to my business cards and letters heads look more professional. Itâ??s one small thing that I have chose to do, to try and set my small business apart from these larger, impersonal companies. I love the last paragraph you wrote in this article, and it is sooo true. We have to practice to perfect the skills needed to perform at our best!!! And keep fighting for what we want. I always say “nothing worthwhile in life is easy…”

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