Starting and growing a new business has much more in common with a tornado than you might expect at first glance. They both begin with a lot of howling and blowing and, if you're not careful and lucky as well, you could end up losing the house. While it's never a good idea to bet against Mother Nature or gravity, the good news is that many of the things most likely to bring your business down are man-made and sometimes the product of your own actions or --more likely - inactions.

It's increasingly clear that the costs today of true inaction far outweigh the risks of just about anything you're willing to try to do. Keep in mind though that refusing to do things cheaply or quickly or too broadly or before you're fully prepared isn't inaction. It's good decision-making. The things you say "no" to will in the long run will have a far greater favorable impact on your ultimate success than any quick hits or shortcuts you get roped into pursuing before you're ready or before it's time. Two easy ideas to keep top of mind: 1) Don't say "maybe" when you should say "no" and 2) Don't try to do something cheaply that you shouldn't do at all.


Politicians also love big winners, but they love patronage more. Their primary goals are favorable publicity (no surprise) and spreading the wealth around, meaning spreading your wealth around. As soon as they see a roaring success in the city, they want to put you and your business on the road and have you build copies and clones throughout the state or the country - whether it makes the slightest sense for you to do so or not. Because their focus isn't on your progress, prosperity or profits, it's on the populace at large and, as they see it,  the more sites and stories the merrier. This is a great way to over-extend your business so much that nothing works anywhere and then - of course - it's gonna be shame on you when it all comes tumbling down. Meanwhile, they'll be over the next hill chasing the newest shiny story. Rapid expansion is always exciting until it isn't and it looks easy to everyone who doesn't have to execute the plan.


The media operate on a simple principle. They'll love ya 'til they don't (hello, Groupon); they're always waiting for you to slip on that banana peel and take a tumble. I realize that they're a necessary evil, but you need to be very careful that you're not saying things or doing things (even worse) to "prove" something to these people because (a) it's never enough to satisfy them in any case and they won't believe you anyway; and (b) it's a fool's errand to waste your time trying to impress people whose livelihood is much more about finding the warts and shortcomings in your story than in celebrating your successes. The best thing I can say about your interactions with most of the media today  is the advice I heard long ago about why it makes no sense to wrestle with a pig. Only the pig enjoys it and you just eventually end up covered in mud.

The bottom line is simple: these are all distractions that do next to nothing for your business and are best avoided as much as humanly possible. Keep your head down, keep your eyes on the prize, keep moving forward and all the rest of this stuff will take care of itself if and when it matters at all.