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The One That Got Away

Having an absolute and unwavering understanding of the vision that launched our enterprise into the tangible realm of the business world will never let us down.

In the course of going about whatever your business is, have you ever said to yourself, “I could do so much more if I only had ______”? What goes in that blank is your choice, and it’s multiple choice. And there are a billion choices. But, if you’re like most entrepreneurs, you’d probably fill in that blank with the word “money”. Whether your enterprise is a small business, a nonprofit, an agency, a church – it’s always tempting to think that resources are the solution to every contingency.

In the ever more complex environment of 21st century business, technology is such an intrinsic element in the fabric of our organizations that it somehow manages to occupy two separate planes – it both flies under the radar because of its omnipresence and somehow becomes an object we fixate on because of its supposed ability to cure all of our woes. Truth be told, some of the technology we enmesh our organizations in is in the process of defining and redefining itself. As the field testing of new tech is played out, its inherent insufficiencies are suddenly clearly exposed in the harsh light of daily business operations. Nowhere is this more readily apparent than when we’re presented with “version 2.0”, an unspoken implication that the original iteration left a bit to be desired.

From the technology perspective – whether software or hardware – there’s always something that we see as “the next big thing”. In a business setting, if it’s an item that’s specifically tailored toward getting things done, it’s far too easy to fall into the trap that says, “Get this, and it will solve all of your problems”. Most business owners know better, yet still find themselves slipping into that snare over and over again, struggling against the overwhelming allure of “the magic solution”. When this happens repeatedly, the precedent is set to always be seeking out the next cutting-edge tech, and that pursuit can carry with it the unfortunate byproduct of us taking our eyes off of our true organizational vision and mission.

Although there is much truth in the old adage “you get what you pay for”, this isn’t always the case. Small business owners may make the disheartening discovery that they’ve sunk precious operating capital into a new technology, only to later become aware that an equally effective, more cost-conscious alternative would have met their needs just as adequately. Buyer’s remorse can settle in once the entrepreneur is confronted with the myriad of challenges a new tech investment can present: a difficult integration into the existing business structure, a steep learning curve, and the need to maintain and administrate the operation of the technology over time.

The greatest danger in this scenario is that technology never says “no”. It wants to draw the entrepreneur in and to become the central focal point for everything that happens in the organization.

The bells and whistles that capture our eye when we first see the technology in the marketplace can belie the true nature of what we’re investing in, including the reality that we might be getting something with a lot more moving pieces than we initially envisioned. When approaching a prospective tech purchase from the vantage point of wanting the secret formula to fix everything wrong with our organizations, we sometimes invest in an array of features that extend far beyond what we realistically will ever need or use.

Investing in and fully integrating a solution that was designed to meet the needs of an organization of five hundred people will likely make little sense for a small business with a staff of three. The very fact that there are so few team members to begin with is a recipe for stress while the new technology is learned, as the necessity of poring over manuals and tutorials will now occupy the time of the few people available, those who actually need to be focused on fulfilling the needs of the daily mission. Invariably, the discovery will eventually be made that opportunities to truly embody the essence of what you are as an organization were allowed to slip through the cracks because all of your human and financial resources were focused on your tools.

The emphasis may be on technology, on the money necessary to purchase the technology, or perhaps on just the money all on its own. On the surface, the pursuit of money can seem more pragmatic than the pursuit of technological tools, yet the truth is that money itself is nothing more nor less than a tool. Money – even if your organization has a lot of it – is meaningless unless you’re using it properly. And sometimes we guilt ourselves into deciding how to invest the operating capital at our disposal. We look at the organization across town, see the technology they’re embracing, see what’s in their toolbox, and we start to believe that we’re somehow slipping behind unless we have exactly what they do. The insidious result is that we end up obsessing about “keeping up with the Joneses” rather than determining what’s actually a sensible, prudent fit for us. If money is our primary focus, technology is inevitably riding on its coattails, and we can find ourselves in a fruitless and endless yearning for what someone else can afford to use.

The best antidote for the poison of the money/tech fixation is to completely, definitively understand what we do in our organizations. The tools change, the money may come and go, but the underlying foundation of why we started doing what we’re doing in the first place should always be the catalyst for all that we pursue. Having an absolute and unwavering understanding of the vision that launched our enterprise into the tangible realm of the business world will never let us down. Understanding the ins and outs of the work we do, and taking the time to document every nuance of the tasks it takes to accomplish it day after day, is a dependable focal point for attainable, repeatable results.

Deeply embracing our purpose, allowing it to be the decider of everything in our organizations – from operating policy to daily procedures – ensures that our perspective is always properly calibrated. If we can find the self-discipline to maintain that vantage point, we never need to wonder what golden opportunity escaped our grasp while we were too busy worrying about other, seemingly more important things.


Do you want to get a deeper perspective on the overall health of your small business or nonprofit? If so, visit You can also contact us at or call 240-329-9387. Also, be sure to visit us on our YouTube Channel for tips, insights, and guidance on how you can truly do smart work in your organization.

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