What’s monkeying with your business growth?

Nina L. Kaufman, Esq.

An award-winning small business attorney in New York City, Nina is a sought-after professional speaker and Entrepreneur Magazine online contributor. She is the go-to counsel for knowledge economy and creative companies, delivering legal services and educational resources that save them time, money, and aggravation.

Posted on July 20, 2015 in All Systems Go!, Business Transactions

“Every time I call, it’s a [expletive] debate,” Devon fumed. “And I gotta call every month to get paid. I can’t stand it!”

My client, Devon, runs a tech support and solutions business. He’s been grumbling about this business customer for many months. How the company never pays on time. Or follows the “rules” in his contract.

Image courtesy of Voraorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Voraorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It reminds me of an old story about monkeys on a golf course.*


It was the late 1800s, during the days of the British Raj.  The English had set up a golf course on the outskirts of Calcutta.  Plenty of land.  Plenty of monkeys.

Monkeys loved golf. They’d scamper onto the grounds. Grab the little white balls once they landed. Fling them in all directions. Screech and whoop with delight. Golfers hated the monkeys. “They’re completely disrupting our round!” they’d cry. They tried to control the monkeys. Built high fences. (As if monkeys don’t climb). Lured them away with bananas. Trapped and relocated them. None of it worked. The monkeys kept finding their way back.Worn out—and out of ideas after several years—the golfers surrendered.  They couldn’t change how the monkeys behaved. So they changed their house rules instead. For their golf course, you had to play the ball wherever the monkey dropped it.

Devon was like the golfers. He repeatedly took action … to change his customer’s behavior. Instead of his own. Because he fixated on solving the problem by controlling his customer, he lost sight of how he could change his behavior. He has good contract options (I should know—I drafted them 🙂 ). He can charge interest on late payments. Stop work if not paid promptly. Terminate the agreement.

When we spoke recently, I helped him accept that the customer’s “monkey business” would not get Devon the results he wanted.  With that, Devon could stop wasting time. Could start putting energy toward more enjoyable—and profitable—customers.

What “monkeys” have interfered with your game?  Post a comment below and let us know how we can help.

* Many thanks to my collaborative divorce attorney colleague, Andrea Vacca, Esq. for making me aware of this story, which was shared by Tara Brach, Ph.D., in Psychology Today.

To get the latest posts delivered right to your inbox, enter your email in the box below:

back to top