Mind Your Own Business

By: In: Small Business On: Aug 30, 2013
Mind Your Own Business

“Mind your own business!” I’m sure we’ve all heard that expression at one point or another. Someone tells us to mind your own business, usually with some choice expletives attached, and usually in an irate tone of voice. Of course, what they really mean is that what you are talking about or looking at is invading their privacy and is something that you have no right to get involved in. It’s not your concern, it’s not your business. Mind your own business, not mine. And that is what I am saying to you today. Well, sort of.

Humans are naturally curious. We love watching soap operas, hearing news of the stars, reading the gossip pages. Whether it’s Lady Gaga’s latest costume, or news of the royal baby, or what politician was just caught on a Facebook chat posting unfortunate revealing photos. So, if we just can’t help ourselves from peeking, it’s only natural. And sometimes that ends up with us being told to mind our own business.  That’s a personal issue and I’m not going to tell you how to live your life. In any case, as curious humans we really just can’t help ourselves.

Unfortunately, when “your own business” is, in fact, “your own business” then it can become a problem. And here is where simply watching someone else’s business can turn into a control problem of wanting to tell people how to do their own business or worse, to do it for them. Even when it’s not any of your business.

What is your business? Are you a pizza restaurant? An insurance company? A dairy farmer? An accountant? These are the things that are “your business.” If you own a film production company, then you should be spending your time on film production. Right? But it’s always amazing to see how many things companies get involved in that really are none of their business. And the problem is often the most serious in small and medium sized businesses because when you first start a company with just one or two employees you might need to do everything yourself. With more time than money, everything does become your business. Moving furniture, painting the walls, designing your logo, washing the windows, shopping for coffee, doing your own taxes. These are all things many starting business end up doing for themselves even though that’s not their business. It’s someone else’s business.  But you don’t have the money to hire someone and it’s something you can do yourself and so you pat yourself on the back for saving money and getting it all done.

But now your business has grown and orders are piling up and you are working later and later to get it all done. And now is the time to mind your own business. Yes, you might be able to paint the walls yourself instead of hiring a painter. But painting is the painter’s business, not yours (assuming you are not, in fact, a painter). Every minute you spend painting the walls is a minute you are not spending minding your own business. So you need to ask yourself whether painting the walls is more important than your own business. And if it is, then maybe you should be a painter instead.

Now you might say that this is an extreme example and of course you would never paint the walls in your office yourself. But you would be surprised how many things you might be doing yourself that you should be letting someone else do. Things that you do yourself because you have always done them yourself. Things that you just never stopped to think about but are things that you should really be letting someone else do because it’s their business, not yours. Things that will not only let you focus on your business but actually let you save money too. Because when you let people do their job, they can often do it more efficiently than you can and do it for less money in the end.

So by minding your own business, you not only have more time to focus on what makes your business competitive (hint: it’s probably not the wall paint), but you can save money in the process. And that means everything from painting walls to, yes, storing boxes of documents and shredding them when you are done with them. Sure you can rent extra space and set up your own little warehouse for your records, and you can spend hours hand feeding papers into an office shredder, but wouldn’t you rather let someone else do that and save money at the same time? I thought so.

So next time you find yourself thinking, “Yeah, I can do that,” stop and think about whether you actually *should* do it. Perhaps instead you should think about minding your own business.

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About the author

John Willoughby

John Willoughby joined Iron Mountain in 2011 and serves as the company’s solutions marketing manager for Secure Shredding and Technology Escrow Services. A former Iron Mountain customer himself, he is focused on helping our customers reduce risk to their organization while improving efficiency and driving sustainability. John comes to Iron Mountain from Center Marketing, a consulting company providing B2B marketing services, where he specialized in product and company launch programs Prior to that he has held a variety of marketing management positions at technology companies including Carbon Design Systems, Gryphon Networks, and Cadence. John received a BSEE with high honors from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. His graduate studies are focused on marketing psychology and he is the published author of articles on marketing strategies to create customer value.