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(Expert Feature) Small Business Owners: Why It’s Time To Stop “Trying Harder”

you have to be willing to change

The Fly’s Plan

I once read a book that told a story about a guy who was sitting in a hotel lounge listening to a life-or-death struggle going on just a few feet away.

He could hear a small fly burning out its short life’s energies in a futile attempt to fly through the glass of a window pane.

The whining sound of its wings told the story of the fly’s strategy: try harder.

But it wasn’t working.

The frenzied effort offered the fly no hope. It was impossible for the fly to try hard enough to succeed and break through the glass.

But, the little insect had staked its life on reaching its goal through effort and determination.

The fact is that this fly was doomed. It was going die there on the window sill.

This is the ironic part…


Across the room, 10 steps away, the door is open. Ten seconds of flying time and this little creature could reach the outside world that it seeks.

With only a fraction of the energy that was being wasted, it could be free of its self-imposed trap. The breakthrough possibility was there and it would be so easy!

You have to wonder: 


  • Why doesn’t the fly try another method? Something totally different?
  • How did it get so locked into this idea?
  • What logic is there in continuing until death, to try and see a breakthrough, with just doing more of the same?

Many business owners have the same mindset as this housefly.  They are determined to keep doing the same thing until their business dies out.

Look, being persistent is important. You can’t be successful without persistence. I’m not suggesting that you just try something once and give up.


But do you know what?

When we’re doing something the wrong way, then trying harder just doesn’t help.   

Here is proof…

change is essential

The guy in this picture really needs to try something else instead of just trying harder.

Many small business owners are like that fly. They’re pushing against a wall using a method that will never move it.

Before you’re overwhelmed by this, let me remind you of an important fact.


The Basics Lead To Success

The key to success in any area of life is not found in the complicated steps, but in the simple, obvious and basic steps!

Philip Crosby author of the management book “Quality Is Free” said it like this, “The great discoveries are usually obvious.”

Think about it.

When you play any sport the first things they teach you, right away, are the basics. What do they have you practice over and over? The basics!

When I took Martial Arts we went over the basics in almost every session.


Because the most complicated moves were usually just a couple different basic moves put together. Or an advanced move was based on the same simple motion of a basic move.

When you join the military what kind of training do they give you? “Basic Training!”

Success in any area of life comes from knowing, applying and perfecting the basics.

That means what you need to do doesn’t haven’t to be complex. In fact, the key will be tied to the basics.

After coming out of the “summer slump,” do you want to build momentum and increase sales for the fall?

It’s going to require you to give up your “trying harder” method and opt for a “trying smarter” method.


What’s the difference between “trying harder” and “try smarter”?

  • Trying harder is just continuing to do the same thing that hasn’t worked and hoping one day it will magically work. 
  • Trying harder is stubbornly insisting on maintaining your course down a dead end path.


  • Trying smarter is deciding that you will drop techniques that you’ve given sufficient time to implement, but which have never produced results. 
  • Trying smarter is being willing to test and try a new technique – and continuing to test and try new techniques – until you see new and better results!


7 Ways To Stop “Trying Harder” And Start “Trying Smarter:”

1. Determine which of the “basics” you’re failing at or need improvement in.

Do you need more leads? Do you need to do a better job converting those leads? Do you need to improve your back-end or follow up sales? Whatever the basic area is, you need to write it down.

2. Read, research, and study till you discover 3 new techniques you can use to improve that area.

This is easier to do nowadays than ever. Go grab a copy of a best-selling book on a topic that covers the basics you want to change. Or go to Google and search out some articles or blog posts on it.

3. Implement one of those 3 techniques over the next 30 days.

Implement your chosen technique in some small, safe ways at first and then, as you see results, you can roll out your effort in a bigger way.

4. Study the results this new method brings you.

Tweak your implementation and see if your results improve.

5. Decide whether that new technique is effective and profitable for you and whether you should continue using it. 

If it is then do your best to systematize it. If it’s not, then ditch it.

6. Implement the next of the 3 new techniques that you discovered.

Whether the first technique you implement works or not, you should then test another technique. Why? If one technique works, then two might work even better. Or you might find a different technique produces even better results.

7. Rinse and repeat!  🙂

Keep studying the results of your new techniques and determine whether they should be added to your arsenal or abandoned.


If you really want to build momentum and increase sales for the final quarter of 2012, then you have to decide here and now that “trying harder” is a hopeless method. You have to commit to “trying smarter.”

This decision is the only decision that will help you to experience a breakthrough this fall.

Commit to this decision and come back and let us know your results!


Housefly photo by YIM Hafiz

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About Scott Aughtmon (1864 Articles)
I’m author of the book 51 Content Marketing Hacks. I am also a regular contributor to and I am the person behind the popular infographic 21 Types of Content We Crave. I’m a business strategist, consultant, content creation specialist, and speaker. I’ve been studying effective marketing and business methods (both online and offline) since 1999. ===> If you would like to see ways that we could work together, then please click here to learn more.