Sunday, July 8, 2012

Those busy bastards...

Those "busy bastards"...

I was recently reading Colin Powell's new book "It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership" and the General had an interesting concept that I have never heard of before, he called it the "busy bastards". Now I don't remember how General Powell came about with that term, I do remember that he heard it from one of his colleagues in the Army during his long and distinguished career. Nevertheless it is an interesting concept. The General was referring to those individuals who sometimes have exceptional skills but confuse being "busy" with being productive. Having spent a short time in the Army myself, I stopped and thought about this for a while, in such a short time a met plenty of "busy bastards" too! Don't get me wrong, many of the guys I served with are exceptional leaders, Soldiers and human beings but many of them truly believed that the way to show the "boss" that we were being productive was by being busy.  I started thinking about this concept as it applies to business ownership and entrepreneurship and I thought "Many of the small business owners I know are busy bastards too!"

Let's think about this for a minute. Usually small business owners are pressed for time. We have to figure out how to market our products, plan and supervise our operations,  manage our resources effectively, maintain our financial accounts, pay our employees, etc, etc.  More often than not we don't have a Human Resources department or a Finance department that can do this for us, we have to do it on our own. However a business owner doing all of these tasks doesn't necessarily mean that he must be "busy". We need to strive to move beyond being busy. Is the way I am operating the most effective way? Is my marketing really working? Am I doing payroll the most efficient way? Being a "busy bastard" prevents us from THINKING about our business and how to improve. If a business owner stops thinking and innovating they are bound to fail.

In the export/import business it is REALLY easy to fall on the "busy bastard" rut. Try completing a SED or using AES for a minute without being frustrated.  Do not let the tasks become "busy work". Take the time to think about your business and how to improve, constantly. We must always be productive but never "busy". That is a good lesson that I have learned from this book, which by the way I recommend, it is an amazing read.

Look forward to your comments.