Lessons From Defensive Driving 3

05 March 2010, by A. Cedilla

Here I am again with another batch of Uncle Bob’s safer-driving tips, as applied to your own business. Enjoy!

Rule #25: Maintain Your Tires
Really, you have to click the link first to understand the framework for this. It’s also very good advice.

When you’re in business for yourself, you work to save money, as well as make it. Don’t believe me? Think about it.

Whether you’re just starting out, or maybe taking over, you need to keep your overhead down to keep some money in the cash box. Sometimes, you have to operate on a shoe-string for quite a long while, treading water, before you get to see any profit.

(Note: For excellent advice on getting by with little money for your business, go download Seth Godin’s manifesto, The Bootstrapper’s Bible, at ChangeThis.)

Spend some time maintaining the nitty-gritty of your business, the small things, the boring details. Keeping excellent records are a boon at tax-time, or in helping replace in-warranty equipment. Regular back-ups fight data-loss and work interruptions, and so on.

“Your tires should have plenty of tread. […] Many newer tires have “wear bars” that show up when tread is worn, so watch for those as well.”

The more care you take with the details while things are easy, the more leeway you have to move in (and less to worry about) if and when things go south. And watch out for signs of wear. Burn-out can be tempered, if not avoided, by regular breaks and by taking care of yourself first. The business is there to serve your dreams. You — not the other way around.

Rule #26: Take Care of Your Vehicle
Max Ehrmann has something important to say. ” Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.” – from Desiderata

Commit to taking care of your relationship to your business. It can bring you to many new places, some of which you would never have expected. The experience, lucky breaks and dog-tired nights, the gnawing worries — all of these will stretch you to new dimensions. Pretty trippy, eh?

When you’re learning new things every day, know what’s important in the long run as well as the short sprints. For example, “Don’t scrimp to save money,” — on what matters. The big investments pay out over time.

Rule #27: Get Rid of Tailgaters
For those who don’t recognize the term, tailgating is when someone drives dangerously close behind another vehicle. The risks of having someone tailgate you is having them not have enough room to pull to a full stop when you do, resulting in a rear-end collision. If you tailgate, you risk doing the same thing to someone else.

What I got from this lesson is a stretch, but it works: Outpace the competition. Sure, you may share a niche market with your rivals, but you’re the only You there is. Use your differences, your quirks, even what you think are your personal flaws, to distinguish yourself from them. You are what they haven’t got. Use that distinction.

“Following too closely often restricts your vision” – You need room to move,to move aside, move ahead, or slow down. Keep a buffer zone, always leaving some room so you can look ahead.

Rule #28: Maintain an Even, Measured Pace
Uncle Max has something else to say. “Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. ” – from Desiderata

It’s a marathon, not a race…and even as a race, it’s only with yourself. You set your own finish line. Only you get to decide when you’re successful at what you do. Work on being the best you can be at what you choose to do. Yes, being first does attract attention, but superior quality keeps it.

If you live with a deep desire to be the best, then use that desire to fuel you. Work every day, taking small steps, small rests, on your way to get there. You want to be successful for a while, focus on the immediate. You want to leave a legacy, factor in sustainability when you’re building the foundations of your life. Your life, in which your business is part of, and always not the whole.

Rule #30: Know How To Recover From A Skid
According to Uncle Bob, the best way to recover from a skid is to avoid it. Barring psychic infallibility, that isn’t always possible, so what do you do?

Leave some room to back up (or back out, if necessary). Establish solid support systems before you need them, and have a plan where you can walk away.

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