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Coffee Cup on Stack of WorkBusiness distractions are normal for every successful entrepreneur.  In fact, if you are not interrupted several times before you reach for your second cup of coffee each morning, I would bet you may wonder if your email or cell phone service is not working…   Yes, I am guilty of expecting to be interrupted and wondering what’s wrong when I am not!

In my work with clients over the past few months, I have noticed a few of them have been dealing with an unusual amount of business interruptions and some of these folks have struggled to recognize and properly deal with the different forms of interruptions.  In this week’s blog, I am addressing the basics.  Do you know the difference between a Distraction a Detour and a Derailer?

Business Distractions

Distractions include email, web surfing, cell phones, BlackBerry’s (also known as CrackBerry’s), uninvited visitors, office politics/gossips, etc.   I am willing to bet, we could create a very long list here.  Anything that interrupts your productivity is a Distraction.  Truly successful entrepreneurs use the technology, tools, and people to increase productivity—not decrease it.  Ask yourself:  “Have I crossed the line and allowed what was intended to improve my life to take over my life?”  Be honest.

Detours

Detours are a bit more serious because it means your attention must be completely directed to a new route that you most likely did not anticipate.  This may include an unexpected loss of business, client, relationship, resource or employee.   Or alternatively, it may be something that unexpectedly surprises you—like a client asking you to expand a product line or service offering.  Detours should be addressed without distractions.  The fact that a Detour is being forced on you requires your full and undivided attention.

Just last week, while we were on vacation we found ourselves baffled by the GPS in our car—it took us to a road that had a big orange sign that read “ROAD CLOSED”.  That was it.  We were somewhere in the middle of Virginia needing to find a rest stop and the road was closed!  So, there we were following blindly a “DETOUR”.  Immediately, I turned off the radio and asked my children to be quiet.  Why did I do this?  I needed to focus.  I had absolutely no clue where I was going!  And the GPS did not either!  Doesn’t this sound a lot like what happens in business from time to time?  When you encounter a Detour in your business, you must turn off all distractions to be able to properly “RECALCULATE YOUR ROUTE”!

Derailer

The most difficult interruption to overcome as an entrepreneur is the Derailer. Derailers may include a sudden death of a partner, owner or key employee, lawsuits, loss of a major client/customer, etc.  As with Detours, your undivided attention is necessary.  However, I believe that it is critical to keep the Derailing interruption in perspective to successfully deal with the matter.  In my work with my clients, I have dealt with all of these derailing interruptions noted above and the most effective entrepreneurs handle Derailers better than the rest.  I think that is their secret to their success!

In my next blog post, I will discuss how to handle the Distractions, Detours and Derailers so you are able to increase productivity, take advantage of the unexpected events, and overcome derailing events successfully.

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Holly Magister, CPA, CFP

Holly A. Magister, CPA, CFP®, is the founder of Enterprise Transitions, LP, an Emerging Business and Exit Planning firm. She helps entrepreneurs assess, re-align, and accelerate their business with the intent of ultimately executing its top-dollar sale.
Holly also founded ExitPromise.com and to date has answered more than 2,000 questions asked by business owners about starting, growing and selling a business.
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