There are explanations and there are excuses. Although some small business owners often use them interchangeably, they have very different meanings. When you consciously understand the difference, it can transform your business, just as it transformed my own business. I explain how in a moment.
First, here’s a very simple look at the difference between explanations and excuses.
- Explanations explain why or offer reasons.
- Excuses deny responsibility.
Here are a couple of common examples.
Explanations and excuses
The small business owner who says there aren’t enough hours in the day, for them to correct a business problem, is not giving an explanation. They’re making an excuse. They have enough time. They get the same 24 hours every day as the most successful people in their industry. By believing that they don’t have enough time, they’re excusing themselves from making the improvements required, for their business to operate effectively. At least until they discover a time machine.
Maybe the most common type of excuse in business, is the famous chicken and egg scenario. This excuse is used when someone wants to avoid making a decision. A decision where there’s risk involved.
For example, ‘I can’t hire my first employee until I’m making enough money, but I’ll never make enough money until I hire someone’.
Because they unconsciously want to avoid making a decision, they choose to believe that there is no way out. This approach to decision making is toxic, because we place a very low ceiling on our potential, if we dodge the major decisions. All of which come with an element of risk. That’s why you have never, and will never, hear a successful business owner described as a poor decision maker.
Excuses and explanations feel similar
I’ve found that business owners don’t intentionally make excuses. They almost always believe they’re giving an explanation. This was certainly how it was for me! I used to believe that my excuses (I had lots) were actually reasonable explanations. It was only after I learned the difference between excuses and explanations, that I was able to correct things. As a direct result, I was then free to start making better decisions.
Take some time to look at explanations you have made (to yourself or others) regarding your business. Look closely for explanations, which could be excuses in disguise. This includes the chicken and egg / time machine kind of examples I gave earlier.
By making yourself consciously aware of the difference between explanations and excuses, you’ll find it easier to make better decisions. It certainly worked wonders for me and my business.
More importantly, I hope it does the same for you and your business, my friend.