By Michael Gunther, Founder & Managing Partner

Okay, I‘m not the hippest guy around. In fact, I’m sure it’s safe to say my friends wouldn’t associate me with the word ‘hip’ at all (except maybe my friend EJ, but then again he isn’t hip either). But I’m going to use the word ‘bling’ to describe all the ideas, opportunities, paths, etc. that distract us from the items we should be focused on in our businesses.

Not only have I seen many business owners trying to chase ‘bling’ when they should be focused on the basics of their business or projects they already have underway, but I’ve experienced this quite often myself as a business owner.

You’re working hard trying to build your business and you’re looking for answers to help you take your business to the next level. You think there must be an easier way to get the job done; there must be a simpler way to grow your business. You figure, it just can’t be this hard. Then, the bling appears – you jump head first into a new strategy and forgo all the work you’ve already accomplished because this new bling is so shiny and exciting.

So where does the bling come from?

  • You’ve just read the latest management book and discovered some great new ideas or theories on ways you need to shift your business. You get your management team to read this book and begin implementing the new concept or ideas that you are confident will solve your business challenges… Until the next management book comes out and you shift direction once again. We call this the “book of the month club” management style.
  • You’re attending a seminar and the keynote speaker runs a very well-known successful company. He or she is sharing strategies and ideas and telling you what made the company great – even as specific as the top 5 things you need to know to build your business. You leave this seminar wondering how your business can implement these basic strategies. You once again go to your team with a new direction. This dance is called the “keynote shuffle”.
  • You’re in a CEO round table and another business owner describes a new strategy or direction that makes so much sense that you just have to try it in your business. You immediately go to your team and begin to implement these changes, but after a short time you realize you don’t achieve much success. You’ve just committed the crime of the “cookie-cutter CEO”.

I could go on and on with more examples of bling. I know I’m constantly seeing new opportunities for our business – reading how technology is changing so rapidly and considering how we need to innovate our service offerings. I swear I have 10 new ideas every week for how we need to do things differently, how we need to grow and what services or products we could be offering, and ways we should be improving our operation.

I’ve come to realize that there is no ‘magic bullet’ – no one idea or strategy that will transform our business. In addition, these authors, keynote speakers and CEOs are only sharing a piece of the picture. They’re not sharing the trials and tribulations of the implementation process. They’re not sharing how laser focus and persistent behavior have to be integrated into any approach. And rarely is there overnight success. Typically the people we read about or listen to at seminars have been building upon a consistent theme.

I’ve also discovered how challenging it is for a team to be constantly shifting in new directions. If someone on your team asks “what are we doing now?” it should be a clue that you may be a bling chaser.

I’ve learned that having a strong strategic plan in place is critical. A plan that is evaluated semi-annually to make sure you’re heading in the right direction. The plan allows you to evaluate new strategies and opportunities against where you want to go. I know my team keeps a ‘bling list’ so that when I read, hear or see a new opportunity that I don’t want to lose I have them put it on the list and we can come back to it during a strategic planning session.

Bottom Line

I’m not suggesting you stop reading or looking for opportunities or ideas to improve yourself and your business. I don’t want to eliminate your creativity or exploration of pushing your performance.

I’m suggesting that you put those new ideas and concepts into perspective and introduce them to your team when it seems appropriate. Make sure these new strategies are fitting into your team’s strategic plan for moving forward in creating the business of your dreams.

This is another article in a series on Michael’s entrepreneurial story and how being raised in a large family has influenced his career. To read the previous articles in this series, visit his blog at

Michael Gunther is Founder and President of Collaboration LLC, a team of highly skilled business professionals who are dedicated to assisting proactive business owners to build profitable, sustainable businesses through results-oriented education and consulting services. Learn more at

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