Once you've cut the weeds and brambles strangling your professional life, it can thrive.


The first step in a growth policy is not to decide where and how to grow,” said legendary business consultant Peter Drucker, “it is to decide what to abandon.” So, in the spirit of business philosophers, stop it. Stop living in the past, perpetuating bad habits and doing everything the way you’ve always done it. If you feel like you’re banging your head against the wall every day, this article may be for you.

Just about everybody regularly creates “to-do” lists. But Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, suggests having a “stop doing” list. Think of all the harmful, unproductive (or even less productive) behaviors you engage in ... and put them on your list. Let your “stop doing” list help you focus on the things you need to do to make your business great.

Here are 21 things you can stop doing right now.

1. STOP blaming slow business on the customer or the economy. Customers are back in spending mode and they are buying. If not from you, it’s time to figure out why, says Kate Peterson of Performance Concepts.

2. STOP asking for opinions and start proposing solutions, says Timothy Ferriss in The 4-Hour Workweek. Begin with the small things. If someone asks, “Where should we eat?” or “What movie should we watch?” or anything similar, do not reflect back with “Well, what do you want to do?” Offer a solution. Stop the back and forth and make a decision. Practice this in both personal and professional environments. Say, “I’d like to propose...”

3. STOP saying yes to everything. Implement a new heuristic for accepting or turning down offers. One such guideline: rate each opportunity on a scale of 1 to 10. There’s only one rule, you’re not allowed to select the number “7”. So basically everything is either a 1 to 6, or an 8 to 10. Accept the 8 to 10s, turn down the 1 to 6s.

4. STOP being isolated. Step out your door and look around. “Back in the ‘80s, jewelers organizations used to be big,” says David Rotenberg of David Craig in Langhorne, PA. “A lot of that has gone away.” So, if you can’t revive your state organization, do something to keep up and learn from your peers. Join a buying group, the American Gem Society, or the Jewelers Helping Jewelers and INSTORE Brain Squad groups on Facebook.

5. STOPwaiting to hop on the technology bus. Older employees might never get it, Peterson says, but it’s time to stop losing business because you’re afraid to make people learn new ways of doing things.

6. STOP hiding behind furniture. There’s a reason so many stores are changing their layouts and their selling methods to a side-by-side team approach with the client: it creates rapport and a level playing field.

7. STOPadvertising sales  to the public. Instead, offer exclusive sales opportunities to only your best customers.

8. STOP letting ‘em leave empty-handed. All clients not closed should be team-sold or turned over. Put the right skill set and personality in front of the client. Use your best salesperson or manager to help close sales, Decker says.

9. STOP losing business to Internet sellers. Omni-channel options are essential in today’s market, Peterson says. If you don’t have a top quality, e-commerce enabled website now, you have a very limited window to get there.

10. STOP saying it’s company policy. In the age of “customer experience,” nobody wants to hear those words, with their strong whiff of bureaucracy. Empower your employees to find solutions. And when a solution can’t be found, at least train them to say no in more human ways. Yes, empowered employees will sometimes make mistakes, but making a mistake and pleasing a customer is (usually) still far better than alienating a customer with robotic policy and language.

Photo credit: Lucasfilm 2010 christmas card 

11. STOPunderestimating the power of the dark side! Cultivate optimism and positivity in your workplace – the galaxy (and your clients and employees) will benefit.

12. STOP tossing applications because the candidate has had five jobs in the past 10 years. It’s the way of the world today, Peterson says. You’re passing on good people who have simply not been satisfied with their previous employment. Do better!

13. STOP employing carrier pigeons. Apart from being the slowest form of messaging (it takes approximately five hours to travel 500 miles), carrier pigeons can’t carry very much — not to mention that they’re high maintenance! Ditch the pigeon and go cloud, advises Affinity Live. In this category, also consider that on the way out are: your fax machine, your rolodex, file cabinets, manila folders, carbon paper, white out, your office calculator, your label maker, your beeper, the yellow pages — maybe even paper business cards and snail-mail bill paying.

14. STOPlooking to hire people who think and behave like you did when you started. If you want new ideas and fresh energy, deal with the fact that they come with different expectations, Peterson says.

15. STOP being afraid to quit projects. If something’s just not working for you, move on.  You’re unlikely to make it work in the long term if it’s not working in the short term.

16. STOP ignoring work-life balance for your employees. A happier workplace is a more productive one. Perks could include a flexible vacation plan, healthy snacks, gym memberships, opportunities for travel and education, happy hour, medical and dental insurance, and, in the case of Google, regular massages. Remind your employees to take vacations, to leave the office at a reasonable hour and to spend time unwinding at home.

17. STOP using “Let me talk to my manager” as a sales tool. It’s corny and no one believes it.

18. STOP pigeonholing. Consider job titles that leave something to the imagination. Babs Noelle of Alara Jewelry has given herself a unique title: Knucklehead in Chief, which we presume makes her more approachable. Craig Husar is president and chief romance officer of Lyle Husar Designs. The point is that some jobs no longer have the clear boundaries they once did. Other jobs have expanded to encompass different areas, like “social media manager.” Rethinking titles can put less emphasis on chain of command and more emphasis on creative thinking and teamwork.

19. STOP buying from vendors/sales reps strictly out of loyalty. It’s great to be loyal, but you need to be loyal to your business and your customers first. Hold all of your vendors and sales reps accountable for service and inventory productivity, Peterson says.

20. STOP joining/belonging to every buying group and trade organization you can get into just because you enjoy traveling to shows or you want to keep another local store from getting in. It’s costly and foolish, says Peterson. If you belong to more than one buying group, you belong to too many. Pick the one that best suits your needs and commit.

21. STOP inviting in distractions. Treat information consumption like an addiction. Begin by unsubscribing from everything you don’t need that’s overloading your email inbox. Next, put a cap on your personal Web surfing. You may even consider scheduling email and social media during limited periods of the day. You could have “Open for Email” hours listed in your email signature. Finally, turn off the notification feature that causes your phone to ding around the clock.

This article originally appeared in the February 2018 edition of INSTORE.

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