We’d all like to be defined by the behavior we exhibit on a “normal” day: one that starts with a restful night of sleep and continues without any big personal problems or major complications with our projects.
However, you can learn a lot more about a person from how they respond to stressful challenges than how they coast through a normal day. It’s obstacles that reveal our true character.
Many of us have some work to do in this department. Most of the time, we may be able to refrain from freaking out, whining or point fingers in a crisis. But we’re not on the level of Ulysses S. Grant, who literally ran toward an explosion while everyone else ducked.
As the owner of your interior design business, you don’t have to run toward a burning ship and risk your life, like Grant did. But you DO have to tackle obstacles with enthusiasm and risk your personal reputation.
You’re only going to be truly successful if you’re ready to put yourself on the line and take full responsibility for the final product — even when things go wrong that are out of your control or are not your fault. Here’s how you can start holding yourself accountable today.
Learn to Trust Yourself
We all tend to develop a better sense of intuition and get more confident as the years pass. With experience, we may find that the things we used to be afraid of — rejection, failure, the disapproval of others — aren’t so quite scary anymore.
You’re probably a confident person if you have the skills and the wherewithal to start your own design business. But there’s something about the act of jumping out on your own that can make you feel shaky again.
Imposter syndrome is real. On one hand, we know we’re qualified to run an interior design business. On the other, we’re afraid that someone will find out any minute that we have no idea what we’re doing.
I think the first step in taking full responsibility for your business is to embrace the fact that we all feel this way sometimes, and learn to make peace with this uncertainty or push through it.
Everyone is winging it once in awhile, and the best experience generally comes with time and through leaps of faith.
Make the Decisions
Once you’ve committed to making peace with uncertainty and enabling yourself to feel more confident about running your business, taking full responsibility for the decisions you make will start to come naturally.
Again, it’s all too easy to assume that someone else has all the answers, or that we need to do more research or ask our trusted network before making a decision.
I’m all for research and for tapping into the knowledge of people who inspire you and who have gone before you on the path you want to take. But, at some point, you must stop looking to others. You need to reflect internally and commit to what you think is the best course of action.
As Marie Forleo said in her blog, “Whether you’re addicted to the opinions of family, friends or even social norms, one of the key components to create a business and life you love is learning to take full responsibility for your decisions.”
When you make the decision on your own and based on your gut, you have no one to blame when things don’t go as you wanted them to. That’s the risk you take as a business owner, and that’s the beauty of being in charge.
Of course, as you make decisions, they’re not always going to be the right ones. If anything is certain, it’s that all of us is going to make a mistake occasionally.
However, mistakes don’t equal failure. If you allow yourself to start looking at mistakes as learning opportunities, it gets a lot easier to personally accept the consequences of those mistakes.
For example, let’s say you chose to work with a certain manufacturer and their products came in defective or faulty. It would be easy to go back to the client and explain why it’s not your fault. It’s OK to be honest with your clients and, of course, it’s fine to point out where the mistake originated.
But in fact, when you decided to use that manufacturer, their product became your responsibility. In the end, the client doesn’t care whose fault a problem technically is; they care that the job you promised to do for them hasn’t been done properly. Making sure to assign blame to others doesn’t make you look good.
Accepting personal responsibility, on the other hand, sends the signal that you’re poised, professional, and will get their job done for them no matter what. That’s the kind of impression that wins return clients.
Fix it First
When something goes wrong with one of your projects, the most important thing is to do everything you can to fix it as quickly as possible.
Some designers balk at this, especially when delays or problems were not their fault — and especially when it means they’re going to lose money on the project by making a personal effort to fix it.
However, the personal financial loss required to fix something like this is almost always short-term. Looking at the long-term approach, these quick fixes will almost certainly win you extra work — from the client you’re fixing things for, and from people they will refer to you.
Also, usually the expense of a quick fix is only temporary. You’ll probably be able to get a refund from the manufacturer or some kind of compensation from the responsible party at some point. But making the client wait for that along with you will hurt your business.When things get tough, don’t overthink. Adopt this mantra: “What can I do to solve this right now?” Click To Tweet
If it’s easier, when things get tough, simply adopt this mantra: “What can I do to solve this right now?” Don’t worry about who’s at fault or what you should have done differently or anything other than moving the problem along to a resolution. You can worry about those other things later.
One of my favorite quotes to remind myself of lately is this: “Great things never come from comfort zones.”
Going through rough patches wherein you make mistakes, accept the blame, and take on the personal expense to fix things can make us hesitant. It might seem easier to stick with projects and tasks we’re very comfortable with — ones where mistakes are less likely.
But that’s not where growth happens. And as the CEO of your business, you always need to have an eye on that big picture growth.
Remember that as a leader, obstacles should be where you shine. Relish the opportunity to solve problems and keep things and moving things forward.
The responsibility and risk that come along with business ownership can be intimidating. But it’s only when we stare down the fears that we can realize the glory.
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