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Posted: April 17, 2012

A cure for the ridiculous virus

Here's how to derail it

Teri Karjala

I’ve learned, as a small business owner, that it is quite possible to spend a large portion of time dealing with bureaucracy. Although a human resources department would ideally handle any long processes or red tape, smaller companies often cannot afford to maintain this separate department. It is therefore very important that small business owners learn to deal with bureaucratic matters with intelligence, efficiency and a sense of humor.

I recently had the great joy of working with the unemployment office. For eight months with little resolution, I was caught in the black hole of the unemployment process after letting someone go. Currently I’m appealing the appeal of the appeal because of the appeal after the appeal. It has become a never-ending maze and time drain.

When faced with any long or tedious situation that steals precious time from your business, it is very easy to come down with the “ridiculous virus.” This virus presents in many ways, but the most common symptoms include:

- Frustration
- Anger
- “Why do I have to do that?”
- Impatience
- Confusion

I’ve realized that I am susceptible to this virus whenever I go near government offices, insurance companies, vendors, or any other organization that involves reams of paperwork.

In the absence of an HR department, small companies do have to deal with these organizations. And, in order to manage and grow our businesses, we have to navigate these bureaucratic procedures efficiently and intelligently. It is therefore necessary that we learn to overcome the ridiculous virus.

After years of experience, I am learning how best to negotiate these processes while staying healthy and focused on my business goals. Some of the more helpful practices include:

- Keep those business goals in mind. Although it is easy to get swept up in bureaucratic processes and paperwork, it is critical to recognize that these distractions are small when compared to your business vision.
- Explore and prioritize where to spend time, energy and money. After a period of time, be sure to put the paperwork aside and dedicate the remaining time and energy to your business.
- Remain calm and professional. Breathe and try to find the humor in the situation.

For many small companies, bureaucracy can easily steal time and energy away from other important tasks. By returning to — and staying true to — business goals, prioritizing where time and energy is spent, and looking for the humor in piles of paperwork, we can spend less time and energy (not to mention psychological drain) on these long processes and devote more energy to the growth and well being of our businesses.

Teri Karjala is owner of the Creative Counseling Center, LLC, as well as Talking With Teri, LLC. Teri’s passion for the business aspects of owning and maintaining a business has made her a sought out coach by others in the helping fields. She is a regular columnist for ColoradoBiz Magazine and speaks to therapists across the nation in building their thriving practice. Recently she has released her “How to Live Deliciously” Creative Journal Series to help inspire and empower adults, teens, and children. These are available in print at www.talkingwithteri.com.

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Thanks for the feedback Liz. Chris...yes indeed! I have friends that think that owning your own business would be the greatest thing ever but they also don't realize everything that takes place on the back end that we have to put up with. Thanks for reading, I appreciate it! By Teri Karjala on 2012 04 18
Great article! I think another aspect of the "ridiculous virus" is that it strengthens whenever it's spread. When I get caught up in sharing about the ridiculousness of things I'm feeling forced to do by bureaucracies, I infect others even as the virus gets a stronger hold on me. The treatment I've found works best is to focus on what's important - as Teri says - and resist the tempting lure if "You wont believe what I'm having to put up with..." Thanks, Teri! By Chris Hutchinson on 2012 04 17
Good article Teri. Navigating around the“ridiculous virus” can be challenging but it can be done. Thanks for sharing. Liz By liz wendling on 2012 04 17
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