On the Mosquitoes of Business

As soon as you start your business and see some success with it, eventually, you’ll start to attract flies and mosquitoes.

When you start to see the momentum moving in your business, the wheels of profit and customers returning for more, you’ll get motivated all over and re-energized to push harder and harder. The invigoration of seeing your ideas and plans work will sharpen your focus to build on your success and do more of whatever it is that “worked.”

But that is usually when the pesky mosquitos of business start to show up. The first mosquito comes and you don’t think much of it. You brush it away without thinking or giving it a second thought. Then the second and the third and all of the sudden, the issue has compounded. And with it your frustration increases because you believe in your mind that if you could only focus on your business and what is working, you could take everything to the next level.

Welcome to the nagging nuisances of business aka the mosquitoes.

These typically come in the form of ….

  • Human resource mosquitoes — in the people arena of business, nagging issues will typically cluster and evolve into whole swarms, especially if you don’t keep an eye on the situation. This is the area I’ve had more bug bites than any and I suspect most businesses with employees are the same.
  • Customer mosquitoes — as much as I love our customer community, yes, customers do bite sometimes. Then sometimes they just fly around you as you’re attending to another important matters. Oh, and yes, some customer mosquitoes think they should be the only thing in your life and insist on flying in your eyes, while simultaneously draining your blood.
  • Competition mosquitoes — competition is a fact of business, but it can also be a distraction. I’ve dealt with plenty of it in my business life, enough to warrant serious reflections on what was my true focus. Needless to say, the competition mosquitoes can cause serious problems, mostly of distraction. You’ll want to quickly refocus on what matters.
  • Crazy Stupid mosquitoes — invariably the negative minority will gnaw at you sometimes … the totally unexplainable, baffling weirdness will occur … the people who will never be satisfied no matter what you do, or the “out of left field” crazy stupid people who drive you to doubt yourself. I label these Crazy Stupid because there’s usually never an issue remedy for them. You just scratch your head, say “ain’t that something” and move on.
  • Legal mosquitoes — mostly these are just the threat of mosquitoes looming out there. You might see them coming in the distance (or just the prospect – or worse, actual threats – of them coming) and they cause havoc before they ever land. Not because they sting but the threat of them stinging. Legal mosquitoes have enough influence to suffocate innovation. Their bite is mostly fear, although when they do they cost money, time and energy. Biting legal mosquitoes are vampires. They are some of the scariest mosquitoes to me (and probably to every other business owner). They can also potentially carry the Ebola virus of business. Yes, they can actually cause business death.

Here are some of the symptoms of business mosquitoes:

  • Irritation — you’re focused on your business, but these things fly in your face and buzz in your ear, while you’re trying to drive your business forward.
  • Frustration or madness — the dang things just won’t go away, no matter what you do.
  • Distraction — eventually you’ll want to squash the bugs, but unfortunately it takes your time and focus away FROM running your business.
  • Festering — once they sting, they don’t just go away magically … they cause welps and fester and itch. This compounds the above symptoms.
  • Multiplication — finally what’s worse is they become more and more frequent the longer you’re in business … yes, they multiply.

What to do about business mosquitoes

At some point metaphors break down, but here are some suggestions to cure the mosquito blues:

  • Ignore them –– my good friend Lisa Sabin-Wilson advised me last year to “Ignore the noise.” It was great advice for what was bugging me. For most mosquito attacks, it works when you can simply ignore that they exist. Although there are certain issues you cannot and should not ignore … but generally the ones that only cause irritation are the ones external to your business and thus, should be ignored for the gnats they are.
  • Remember, stupid people don’t matter — when I resolved that my business was about my team, my customers and me only and exclusively, I realized that everything else simply didn’t matter much. Mosquitoes come and go. The things that do matter — most importantly being people — will be here for the long haul.
  • Focus on what really does matter — the bugs will swarm. They will distract you and when you don’t pay attention they will try to bite you. But keeping an ever-consistent focus on what DOES matter has helped me the most. People. Business is fundamentally about people. Your team, your customers and you … not the peripheral.
  • Find the attraction or cause — this simply means ask yourself, “What is or might be causing these mosquitoes?” Uncover what might be attracting the mosquitoes. Once you identify the root cause, then you can start to snuff them out. Sometimes the remedy is a lawyer unfortunately. Sometimes it’s good advice from mentors who have been in your shoes before. Sometimes it’s putting up tiki torches with bug repellant like protecting your culture and refining your hiring practices. Either way, get to the source of the problem fast before it festers.
  • Change scenery — the frustration of the mosquitoes can really distract you from why you started the business and what you’re ultimately trying to do with it. I’ve found extended retreats to be refreshing and oftentimes just simply change of scenery. A couple of times a year, we take our teams on retreats through various events. It’s a chance to get away from it all and get some perspective.

So … what do you know about business mosquitoes and how to deal with them? Share in the comments below.




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