What’s a Gremlin?
Aside from being the name of a truly unfortunate car designed by AMC in the 1970s and a dark, weird ’80s movie about little critters that you shouldn’t feed after midnight, the word is generally used to describe annoyances, small mechanical problems, and nagging issues that gnaw away at you over time. A friend recently used the term to describe some self-critical tendencies that I felt were impacting my ability to feel comfortable writing for a new audience, and I couldn’t help but relate to the image of the gremlin chewing mischievously at the corners of my thought process.
It can be difficult to stay unaffected by the small stresses and challenges that add up in the work that goes into creating and sustaining any small business – try as you might, the gremlins might start getting to you. And just when you thought you had them cornered… they might sneak away only to return and bug you later.
So, what is a well-meaning, productivity-minded and generally well-intentioned person to do when feeling undermined or low on business confidence?
In my friend’s words: “get a big mallet.”
Before you run out and buy a comically oversized hammer, let me explain: the mallet in this metaphor is a reflection and realization of all the things you’ve done right with your small business plan. There are many, many of these things, and they might be pushed aside or taken for granted in times of stress. Finding, focusing in on and re-orienting around your business confidence will help form a powerful object whose chief purpose is to crush any pesky gremlins.
What Builds Business Confidence?
Making honest, clear assessments of your work (both the good and the bad side) is a key factor in combating insecurity. You will be able to see your victories just as clearly as your mishaps: both can be learned from and used as leverage to go forward with a plan you may have been uncertain of pursuing despite its potential benefits.
You can also seek assessment in the form of feedback from trusted colleagues – hearing another perspective may be a valuable boost to your own understanding of what you’ve done well and what may need to change. Focus not on whether or not you feel like you have an ability, but rather the positive value and services that you provide to your customers.
Practice doesn’t only make perfect for music students. Key components of your business strategy, from interaction with customers to giving quarterly presentations to negotiating with tricky suppliers, can be intimidating at first: eliminate any self-doubt that may creep into these processes by finding a neutral, low-risk space to prepare your approach to a given task. Then, when it feels natural, bring it out into the wild and give it practice in a real world setting with the aid of the confidence you’ve built up over time. Making the leap from rehearsal to the stage will propel your confidence even further forward.
Some time ago the blog took an informed look at the psychology of risk-taking and dealing with failure: both important elements to consider when launching any small business venture. Overall, taking risks and experimenting with new ideas can be a huge boost to your business confidence when given sufficient research and sound planning. Don’t simply leap into the unknown, but develop reasons to believe in the direction and future stability afforded by embracing a new idea. Use experimentation as an opportunity to learn in controlled conditions. Doing so will give you a forward-looking perspective!
Hopefully, these tips will help you squash even the most persistent of gremlins from your thought process as a small business leader.