Run your business like a life


For many of us, business and life – personal and professional – blur together on a regular basis. But the idea of running your business (or your career) like a life is a good one. Chris Brogan wrote about this in his newsletter this morning, and I’ve included some excerpts below. Worth a quick read:

In writing Trust Agents with Julien, I’ve been building more and more information up around the idea of being human at a distance, and about the way human-shaped business works. One thing I believe: that lots of situations in business feel a lot like relationships, and vice versa.

Think of Everyone as a Relationship

Customers are a relationship. Prospects are, too. Coworkers are those people we spend more time with than many of our extended relatives. But do we treat everyone as if we’re in a relationship with them? I don’t mean that you have to kiss everyone (though hugging wouldn’t be all that terrible, would it?), but I do mean that if we considered this, even every once in a while, our business experiences (from communication to interpersonal interactions) would improve. For instance, we don’t spam our family.

Make Everything Into an Improvement Project

At home, we carve up things into projects. We paint the deck. We decide to build out a new sun room. We replace the living room furniture. Some of our projects are recurring: vacuuming, laundry, meal preparation.

Business runs the same way, even if your job is made up of recurring tasks. If your role is director of marketing, the overarching goals of the organization are to drive more awareness and translate that to sales (let’s say). Why not find ways to chunk that into projects: email marketing improvement, online presence management, blogger outreach efforts, print campaign streamlining, integration efforts, etc. Can you see how that “project” mindset changes business?

Integrate Your Presence and Profile

Online, I’m often asked the question as to whether one should have a work and a business profile separate from one another. I say no. Except in extreme cases (your fetish art hobby doesn’t work well with your day care center job, maybe), I believe that our profiles and how we conduct ourselves online should be an integrated thing.

This might require some help from friends. You might need to request that your Facebook friends not tag you in photos from the party where you did the kegstand in your band costume. It might mean having to do some untagging when one of your friends tags you anyway. But I think it’s worth it.

Social software allows for a more enriched view of our interests, our pursuits, our goals. By connecting on various sites as an integrated whole, we treat people more like humans, and we operate human-shaped businesses.

Will it Work?

You might be wondering if any of this improves the bottom line. My answer? Yes. Does it work for every organizational culture? No. But here’s a trick: culture is a non-physical consensual reality that only exists because others perpetuate it. Inserting new programming into the culture, is similar to hacking software (or our immune system): appear externally to be compatible with the culture, and then inject small traces of the new programming into the system. Defend against the antibodies, and soon, you’re in.

Hack your workplace, friends. You deserve it.