“It is what it is” is a useful phrase that acknowledges acceptance of a business situation you can’t change. For example:
Economic downturn? It is what it is. You can’t change it, but you can work within economic realities to get more customers through your door.
Key team member off work sick? It is what it is. You can reallocate their workload or move deadlines to when they return.
Storm event interrupts power to your business? It is what it is. You can work from home if possible, or find alternative means to communicate with your customers until power is restored.
“It is what it is” is only useful when the situation is truly out of your control, and nothing you can do will change it. Unfortunately some people use it as an excuse to not take ownership of their contribution to a situation.
Low staff morale resulting in high staff turnover? Saying it is what it is is abdicating your responsibility as the owner to create a great team. Team morale is directly impacted by the effectiveness of leadership and management within your organisation. This is a great opportunity to assess your own ability to inspire your team, and improve your management skills. Sure, it will take effort, but it is definitely something you can, and should, influence.
Dissatisfied clients? Saying it is what it is assumes that you have no influence over your customers’ experience. We often hear this one with some people are never satisfied and you can’t please everyone. While it’s true that your product or service may not be what everyone needs or wants, you can still do your best to satisfy those who do buy from you. This is a great opportunity to find out how you can improve your product or service, and what your customers truly want.
Competitors outperforming you? Saying it is what it is indicates you believe they are lucky or have some advantage that you don’t. There is always room for improvement in business. Take the opportunity to study what they are doing to get better results, and implement similar changes in your business.
The only time it is what it is really applies is when a situation is truly out of your control. Next time you feel like using the phrase, assess if there is anything you can do to improve things. If so, take responsibility for making changes. Improve yourself and your business to get the results you want.