How you do anything is how you do everything…

When a business is struggling (or succeeding) we generally look to the macro reasons for why that might be. Do they have a solid business model? Is it a great product or service? Can they generate strong profitability? Are they different (in a good way) in the marketplace?

Those are all great questions and they certainly can help understand a business’s success (or lack of success). But often those things (and more) are symptoms of something else, something deeper.

We need to be looking at the micro reasons, the internal challenges of the business owner (and maybe their team) as the actual source of the problems.

How you do anything is how you do everything.

One of the ideas that really stood out to me when I did some initial training for starting my business advisory practice Aspire (now over 13 years ago…), is the idea that “How you do anything is how you do everything.”

It’s a simple idea but the more I talk to successful business owners and owners who are struggling, it’s clear that the external, macro components of the business are simply a reflection of the internal, micro actions and beliefs.

How you do anything is how you do everything…


If you struggle with your personal finances and tend to spend more than you make (rack up credit card bills, buy everything on credit or lay-away), then it’s almost a certainty that your business is NOT making a profit.

*Note – you may be making money but it’s likely that you tend to spend more than you make in the business just like you do at home.

Follow Through

If you have trouble following through with personal appointments or obligations… or even if you’re always late for meetings, then it’s extremely likely that your business does a poor job of following through with your customers and your vendors / partners.

*Note – if you want to kill a business (or a relationship) as quickly as possible, develop a reputation for being inconsistent and flaky…! (Consistency is a superpower…)

Self-Centered vs Service

If your personal life is all about you, if you are unlikely to proactively find ways to help other people out, then it’s likely that your employees and your customers aren’t enjoying working with you.

*Note – a key tenet to leading anyone is starting with a service mentality (Servant Leadership), people quickly recognize when it’s all about you and will find reasons to go somewhere else.


If you don’t pay any attention to how you present yourself personally, or how your personal space looks, then it’s highly likely that your workplace and your employees don’t have a consistent or positive look either.

*Note – it may seem superficial but first impressions can have a huge impact on business success. When’s the last time you decided to try out a restaurant that looked dirty or sloppy?

There are lots of other examples, but hopefully these will give you a feel for why this is important.

And, as with most things, there’s good news and bad news about this particular challenge.

The bad news? The first step in solving a problem is admitting you have one. And it’s a LOT harder to admit to a personal challenge than it is to point to something going wrong in a business (or more likely blaming the business problems on someone or something else).

The good news? Everything that’s likely to fall into this category are things that can be addressed and improved. If you struggle with money issues, you can change your beliefs about money and get help and training on how to be better. You can choose to start caring about how things look and make that a focus. It’s not easy to change things like this, but it’s definitely possible.

Where to go from here?

If you feel like your business is struggling but haven’t been able to make much headway on improving it, maybe it’s time to look inward and see if your beliefs and behaviors aren’t the true root cause of the issue.

Some people are self-aware and candid enough to be able to do this on their own. Most people aren’t – which is why you might want to enlist a friend, a peer, a strategic advisor or a peer group to help you take an honest look at yourself.

Another option that might help would be to use some personality or behavioral assessments to help uncover your tendencies.

Fixing something like this, a behavioral tendency, a bad habit, a set of beliefs, isn’t going to be easy. We all get comfortable with how we are and ultimately if you don’t want to change, then change isn’t going to happen.

But it all starts with awareness and recognition of the true root cause of a problem. And if you can at least get to that point, you have a chance to start doing things differently.

What do you think? Can you think of examples of business problems that started with a core belief or behavior of the owner or leader? Is there a chance this applies to your business in some way? Or is it just a load of bunk? Either way, we’d love to hear your thoughts – leave us a comment and let us know what you think.

Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach