How to Rip Off Your Band-Aid and Reinvent Your Business

How to Rip Off Your Band-Aid and Reinvent Your Business

When you have a business – any kind of business – there are two ways to grow:

  • You can tinker away and make changes to accommodate growth in little bits as you go along
  • You can shut the whole thing down and start over

Most people do the first. It’s easier to pick away at what you have and make little tweaks and improvements here and there, fixing up your business as you go along. You add a new service. You fiddle with your prices. You change a few lines of your web copy. You tinker with your sidebar a bit.

You pick at your band-aid. And everyone knows that only stretches out the pain until you finally manage to pull it off.

The problem is that picking at a band-aid is easier than grabbing the edge and ripping it off your tender skin. That hurts. There’s gonna be a yelp, no matter what. And most people don’t like to submit themselves to a scary, sudden spike of pain, even if they know they’ll be sighing in relief a few seconds later.

Yeah, we like to draw the pain out. It still hurts to pick away at a band-aid, but the pain is much more manageable and at a level we can tolerate easily. We can deal with it. You could even say some are suckers for pain – drawing out that self-punishment and ooohing and ahhing and twisting on chairs gets attention, especially if you have an audience watching.

Fun times.

Another reason most people don’t rip off band-aids in one fell swoop is because they’re scared. Scared it’ll hurt more than they thought. Scared they shouldn’t take off the band-aid yet – what if the wound isn’t healed? Maybe they should just leave it… And they’re even scared taking the band-aid off makes things worse. Better to stay with that band-aid until it falls off on its own.

The same thing happens in business. We don’t make big moves because we’re afraid of what’ll happen if we do. That we weren’t ready. That maybe we can’t handle the next level. That ripping off that band-aid was a mistake. That maybe it won’t work and we’ll need to go back to what we were.

Kind of stupid.

Your business wants to get better, and fear holds you back.

Know what else holds you back? That band-aid. It keeps you where you don’t want to be anymore. You’re busy and distracted fixing and patching and tinkering and always working on your damned business, when you could be working on great projects at higher-levels of income and bringing on new clients and better opportunities.

When you pick at your business band-aid, it takes you longer – much longer – to get where you want to be. And it’s more painful, in the long term. More stressful. Less solid. More uncertain. Less secure. Pick, pick, pick, pick, pick…

It’s also stupidly distracting. Here you are, wishing you could just get out there and do all those awesome things you want to do, but you’re stuck trying to pick away at this band-aid.

Rip it off.

Want to see a good example of someone who has done just that? Head over to, where Naomi Dunford grabbed her business band-aid and hauled it off. She’s selling every product she has and closing shop. Taking them off the market. For good.

Why? Because she’s sick of picking at the band-aid. It’s holding her back. The small products that don’t earn much are keeping her where she doesn’t want to be. She’s stuck at a small biz level and can’t move up. She can’t do big, awesome things with her business because everything’s holding her back.

And she needs to fix it. Work on it. Reinvent everything.

So she took a deep breath, grabbed hold of the edge and ripped.

Sure, it hurt. Sure, she’ll going to worry whether she’s done the right thing (even though she knows damned well she has). Sure, she’s scared about the future (even though she shouldn’t be). And sure, she’ll have a lot of work on her plate as she reinvents Ittybiz to be the amazing business it’s going to be.

But she did it. She didn’t talk about it for ages and she didn’t twist herself in knots wondering if she should. She thought, she decided, and she did it.

I admire her for that. Naomi consciously took the business decision to stop picking, get rid of the band-aid, stop her world for a while and buckle down to bring on Act II. She’s pushing the pause button so she can reach the next level of her business dreams. Not by picking away at them a little bit every day. That’ll take forever.

No one has forever.

So if there’s somewhere you’d like to be with your business, quit picking at the band-aid. Take a few days off and think about what you’d like to do with your business and where you want to be. Plan. Prepare. Decide on your products, your services, your target market, your web image, and your goals.

Then just do it. Stop your world. Rip the band-aid off and put your business on hold for a week, a month, or maybe even two months. Do all the work you have to do to heal up what’s broken, fix what needs fixing and get your whole business set and ready for the next level.

It’ll hurt, yes. But when you make this decision, you’re making the decision to help your business heal and be even better than it was. You’re saying yes to giving yourself all the time, focus, energy and space you need to fix it all up and bring your business to where you want to be.

And then you’ll be all set to step out and re-launch… band-aid free.

Want to learn more about how to reinvent your business? Check out Shift: How to Reinvent Your Business, Your Career, and Your Personal Brand. It's the how-to guide that'll get you there fast.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

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  1. Seriously. I was surprised (but oh so excited for her) when I read that Naomi was moving on to “Act 2.” I swear, she’s got bigger balls than most men and I also know she’s gonna be just fine. At some point she mentioned that 10 years ago she couldn’t have fathomed the success she has now. I can’t wait to see her in another 10. Naomi’s style isn’t for everyone (and she knows that and embraces it), but her tenacity and kindness (yes, there’s lots o’ kindness behind the f-bombs) should be impressive to anyone.

    So I didn’t set out to write an “Ode to Naomi,” but it seems I have.

    Great post, James! I love you the way to tell a story and then turn it in to something we can all apply to our own businesses.

    • That’s the thing, eh? We never actually *expect* that we’ll achieve what we do. We set our sights, we work at it, we’re determined… but when we get there, we’re STILL always a little surprised. “Whoda thunk, eh?!”


      But once you reach that goal, there’s always more ahead and new levels. So you set your sights, work at it…

      Yeah. I can’t wait to see where we’ll all be in ten years. And I bet you as we’re chinking glasses to success ’round the table, we’ll all be saying, “Whoda thunk, eh?”

  2. Great advice James — I’m huge advocate of band aid ripping.

  3. I held on to my band-aid for a long time! I had been a part time freelancer for so long…The small jobs are good, but it doesn’t compare to what I have now. However, it did take me to getting laid off to realize that I can go full time. I’m in a much better position now along with the wonderful clients I have. I guess someone needed to pull the band-aid off for me first!! Great post!! We’ll never know what we could achieve unless we pull that band aid off!!

    • Ha! Yeah, it’s easier to close our eyes and say, “Okay, YOU do it… I can’t.”

      But they never do it right. You weren’t ready or you were mid-breath or they missed their shot and yanked it wrong and now they have to do it AGAIN and…

      Yeah. Forget that. If someone’s going to rip off a bandaid on MY arm, it’s gonna be me.

  4. When we go swimming in the summer, it’s usually in an icy cold creek, way back in the woods. I’m the person who gets into the water an inch at a time – it has taken me as long as 20 minutes to be fully submerged. After reading this post, I realize I’m doing the same thing with my business. I add a client or two every couple of months and put off marketing tasks that would bring in more. Maybe it’s time to take the plunge. Or rip off the band-aid. Or whatever. Thanks for the nudge.

    • I find the older I get, the less I tolerate colder water. Getting in is agony. But yeah – the inch-by-inch takes forever and hurts. So I do dip by dip. “Okay, up to the knees… oh oh oh… okay. Up to the stomach… ah god this is cold… okay, up to the shoulders…” It’s still picking at it, but somewhere in between a screaming plunge and taking forever.

      And you’re welcome on the shove. 😛

  5. Great points here!

    Sometimes you have to leave something behind in order to move on (and that can hurt).

    I wasn’t aware of the details of Naomi’s decision (probably wasn’t paying enough attention, again), but thanks for sharing the thought process behind it. And you know what, she’s talented enough that if this reinvention doesn’t work out (although I’m sure it will) she can just reinvent herself again.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Same thing goes for all of us, eh? If any reinvention doesn’t work… we can just reinvent ourselves again 🙂

      That’s the fun part of life!

  6. Super article….really hard to do. We took the big plunge about a year ago – from a “static billboard” website tto a WordPress driven CMS. It was really scary, but I wish we’d done it sooner.

    Do it….whatever “it” is….it’ll hurt so good!

  7. I’m doing this for my web design business right now. The band-aid actually comes off tomorrow.

    Thanks for making me feel less crazy.

    • Feel smart. I have a lot of respect for someone who calls a time out on a business to readjust.

      Crazy comes from all the little internety things we think we need to pay attention to but don’t 🙂

  8. I am in the process of ripping off the band aid for my business website. It started off as my insights on being a freelance writer, but soon learned that was not a good business model for a blog. I am changing it into a more business focused site that will promote my business to new clients.

  9. This is a stop-you-in-your-tracks post.

    The sub-heading: No one has forever actually made me feel ill.

    I, too, need to make radical changes to my business and I’m more likely to make them as a result of reading this post.

  10. I saw Naomi’s post the other day and I thought- about time she ups her game. She is Internet famous in her niche and she has a huge and loyal community that will happily buy her stuff. Good for her.

    My business doesn’t have a band aid yet, as I am two months old and have 2 good clients. But my website has a lot of band aids- free generic wordpress theme, bits and pieces of code thrown in to make it look better- regardless of how messed up the code is.

    So this post is a timely reminder for me to get off my ass and do the needful. The theme of the next month- keep the baby , throw out the bath water along with the chipped tub , install a sparkling new tub and boil some new bath water.

    BTW the baby is my content, not an actual infant.(just clarifying)

    • Yeah, see? That’s how it starts and it sure doesn’t take long before the tinkering begins. And when it starts, it’s hard to stop.

      (Personally, I’d throw out the baby and have a nice, relaxing bath with a good book, but that’s me…)

      • I know.Hard to stop, especially when every now and then there comes a shiny new app that seems so much better.

        For example, I have the default WP search function. It does not deliver much. I tried to go with the Google Custom search but the placement of the search box was not playing nice with my theme. Now comes Lijit which seems so much slicker. But again I want it where my older search box is and that is impossible

        Of course most of my problems are because of a theme that is not as customizable as I would want it to be. Hence out with the old, in with a band aid proof new

  11. Oh, I think I can kinda sorta relate (she said, making one of the biggest understatements of her 13+ years online).

    Just freakin’ DO IT because should you not….nobody will ever do it for you. Hard-won words of wisdom, let me tell you….

  12. Er, James? What if you reinvent your business so much, that you actually start a completely new, different business? That would be like a full-body skin-graft, right?

  13. If anyone can reinvent their business it is Naomi. She is inspirational.

    James, what struck me about your message was the last paragraph. “It’ll hurt, yes…. You’re saying yes to giving yourself all the time, focus, energy and space you need to fix it all up and bring your business to where you want to be.”

    I’m new at this, but what I’m learning is constantly second-guessing what I should and shouldn’t be doing is like putting a band-aid on, taking it off, putting it on…. kind of like a young kid. In fact, maybe this band-aid approach is a developmental step in starting a business.

    I’m thinking your message is to QUIT PEEKING to see if new skin is growing… Just take a breath, trust your instincts and let nature take its course.

  14. “No one has forever.” You should have coffee mugs made with this line printed on them. I would buy one.

    In addition to all the benefits you’ve mentioned, there is something else that comes with reinvention: it keeps you young. Reinvention means learning new skills and capabilities. And the constant pursuit of learning is the fountain of youth.

    • That’s actually a good idea. *contemplates mugs*

      Good point on staying young. That’s something I didn’t think of, and I definitely agree.

  15. OK were you standing outside my life and looking in…Holy Shit Batman….or should I say James.
    I just met with a mentor and this is exactly what I am doing. You nailed it.
    Time to stop the insanity and walk or should I say jumping head first off the cliff without a parachute into the dream. I know that fear has totally held me back and now I know this for sure…it will all work out.
    So a big OUCH….the bandaid just came off.

    • I did a very cool mental exercise once that involved visualizing holding it all together. And then to visual what would happen if I let go of everything…

      And I went, “Huh. That’s… that’s it? Huh. Well. I can do that.”

      And I did 🙂

      Good on you for not being afraid – there’s really nothing to be afraid of but fear itself!

  16. Well, this post came on the same day that I told my email list I’m taking time off to plan out my business. This plan started last week, so before Naomi made her big announcement, but her courage allowed me to feel smart, rather than like a loser.

    • Oh good for you, Susan! Well done – and you beat Naomi to the punch, too!

      (There are no losers in business – except the ones who never change and grow at all. And that’s certainly not you!)

  17. Great analogy! I’ve set my sights high for my business and keeping my phalanges crossed. Thanks for the article.

  18. An excellent and well written post, but it does only present one side of the issue 🙂

    Side 2:

    Way back when, there was only one real browser – Netscape Navigator. Then along came Internet Explorer (which is an entire story in itself), and the guys from Netscape found they were losing market share. Did they pick at the band-aid, improving a bit at time, trying out a new feature here and there? Nope.

    They ripped off the band-aid. They stopped all development on Netscape, and started from scratch on a new browser. Re-wrote all the code, re-did all the design, and made a much better product. Or they would have, if they would have ever gotten it out. In the meantime, IE ate up all the market share, and Netscape died quietly in the corner.

    Sometimes it’s better to change and improve all the time than start from scratch. Just sayin’ 🙂

    • Don’t forget Lynx. And Mosaic! Remember building in Mosaic 1.0, where if an image wasn’t found, the browser would stop loading (that was heck if your developers gave you 83 broken image links….)?

      Oh, the memories….. 🙂

  19. I actually did this once; business was stuck in an infectious loop; gangrene was setting in. So I grabbed that band aid and RIPPED. The bandaid came away as well as the scab and a big hunk of my arm (metaphorically speaking). Quite quickly, I (my business) bled to DEATH. While I was hovering high above in an out-of-body experience, looking down at the lifeless corpse and assessing what had gone wrong I decided that it was meant to be. Hemorrhage or slow seep, it was going to die. Maybe it was better to get it over with quickly. Maybe some other method of debridement would have had better results. Maybe if I’d gone to the doctor and not done it myself. But perhaps I would have died anyway, and died deeply in debt. I’ll never know for sure.

    Now that I’ve been reincarnated as a Bazigian Sand Flea, I’m trying to get something new started. Hopefully I’ve learned enough to do better this time. Avoiding infection would be a great start.

  20. Hi James,

    This post is a sweet relief.

    You’ve given me that ‘kick’ to rip off the band-aid, and take a major time-out from one business…to start another two!

    Thanks luv.

  21. Hi James,

    I couldn’t have discovered this article at a more opportune time. Thanks for the inspiration!

    I’m looking forward to using your “Got-It-All” website planner to aid my reinvention 🙂


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