Some of you may know I have a fish I am highly attached too named Oscar. I got this fish with the intent of it living a maximum of 3 months. I thought of him as like a trial for me taking on all my nieces and nephews for the summer. I thought if I can keep this fish alive I could take them for more than a sleepover. However, I found out on the purchase that if given the proper care they can live for 5- 8 YEARS. I now became invested as this was a challenge I was going to rise too. However, Oscar had a different idea, during our short time together he has given me some realizations and reminders about Business that can only be explained in fish terms.
1. Murky Waters
Your business is like the fish once it’s alive, it’s alive, even if you didn’t look at it that day. However, if you leave it unattended for too long the waters get murky. If I don’t clean my fishbowl for a couple weeks the water starts getting a little bit hazy and I can’t necessarily see my fish. This is a problem for Oscar’s survival and for me because cleaning the tank at this point is now pain in the butt.
That’s your business if you leave it unattended for too long. The “thing” you turned a blind eye too starts to block the vision/success of your business. It would have been easy to deal with if you hadn’t procrastinated but now here you are cleaning off individual rocks instead of doing a quick rinse.
I can not feed Oscar all of his pellets at the same time. Feeding a fish is not like feeding a dog. I learned you can’t just throw it all in the bowl and walk away. I literally have to put a pellet in, wait for him to find, and digest, all before he can have another. Depending on his appetite, he might end up doing this sequence 3 or 5 times, until full. Although, in reality, it’s like a minute of my day, when you’re rushing out the door it’s an inconvenience. However, I can’t cheat on it because if I drop all that food in at once he can’t eat it. Oscar gets overwhelmed and then that causes the water to get murky again. So how does this relate to your business?
While thinking of my overwhelmed Oscar as your business. When you try to implement multiple products or practices your staff and consumers get overwhelmed. It’s impossible for all the new additions to get absorbed properly leaving you with a mess to clean up later. Also, you can not overfeed yourself which is easy to do when you book yourself back to back. Make sure you are taking short little moments throughout the day to give your body proper nutrition as it goes a long way towards your mental and physical health.
3. You are not the boss.
Oscar has its own personality. I know that makes me sound crazy but anyone who has “FishSat” for me knows this is true. He has times of day he likes to eat at, temperature requirements, interactive games, preferred sunlight, and more. When he doesn’t get these things, I have to clean the tank more often or he gets fish depression (google it).
Oscar in a sense is our clients, staff, and contractors. As much as we want things done a certain way, if they’re not happy our workload increases. We are chasing them down, justifying our relationship, and cleaning up unnecessary crap. When I first got Oscar I tried to make him work the way I anticipated having a pet fish would be and we struggled. When I adjusted to his needs/ his wants we became two peas in a pod. Remember sometimes we must adjust to our clients to have a flourishing relationship.
4. Business is a Gift
The first few months as I adapted to my Oscar I constantly questioned my decision. I debated gifting him to another because I have never been the sole guardian of an animal. My schedule was hectic and cleaning fish poop is not fun. Explaining Oscar’s schedule to others when I travel makes me sound like a lunatic, and other issues that I won’t discuss. However, it’s those late nights when I can sing off-key and dance through the deadlines that I feel his presence wondering how he got stuck with me…
Seeing his tank in need of a cleaning before his scheduled time reminds me that I have not been taking little moments for myself. It reminds me not to rush and do it right the first time. Feeding him reminds me to feed myself. His procreation schedule (also a real thing) reminds me that non-business contact with others is needed because even fighting fish need a hug.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed in business especially when you are in the beginning. You can get mad over the little things that have nothing to do with your bigger picture. You can be frustrated by relationships you relied on floundering (see what I did there :p) But your business is something you created, it’s a relationship you built to be everything you imagined, that you can change when necessary, that grows and changes with you. Know that even on the days it feels like you want to quit that it has your back! On the days it wants to quit you it has your back!