Is your ego bigger than your current sales figures?
Thursday, September 20 2012
IS your business struggling? Even if you don’t think in terms of struggle, perhaps your business is not generating revenue anything close to your performance last year and you’re “concerned”.
Who or what do you blame for these poor results?
Your customers: “That woman just does not understand what she wants.” “That guy conned us from the start. He said that once we provided the quote it would be easy sailing from there onwards. It’s now two months and we’re yet to see an order.”
Your sales reps: “They are just satisfied with the salary that I’m giving them to do anything more.” “If they would just visit customers more frequently we would have more business.” “If they would see more than just one person during potential customer visits we would have a much better chance at securing business.” “They are just not capable of handling customers when it comes to the technical questions. I guess I will always have to make myself available to answer the technical questions.”
Your competitors: “I don’t know how she manages to stay in business charging those prices!” “If he continues whoring his product out, he will ruin the market.” Your own people: “If only my accountant would understand that he has to be more flexible. He doesn’t understand my math. If our pricing remains so uncompetitive we won’t be able to sell anything.”
On the surface these all seem like plausible reasons, but if you continue saying them over and over nothing is going to change. These reasons provide an explanation as to why your business is struggling. They don’t provide a solution. The reality is if you are not taking responsibility for the outcome, learning something new each day and making adjustments to get better, then I guarantee you that your ego is bigger than your sales.
In his essay “The Five Deadliest Marketing Mistakes” Mark Schaefer Executive Director
Schaefer Marketing Solutions LLC says, “Most business owners have to be self-assured to found and run a company. But over-done, that means arrogance.” That can be annoying, but when it impacts your business strategy, this can be a disaster. Every successful business owner knows that to be successful, you have to push aside your personal agenda and serve the customer. Schaefer suggests that we write this down:
Marketing isn’t about who you think you are and what you think customers need. Marketing is about who your customers think you are and what they think they need. If you’re thinking that it’s all about YOU then your ego is probably eclipsing your best self and blinding your vision. This is especially true if you’ve had fabulous success in the past. Success does not always breed more success, in fact what is more likely to happen is that it will breed complacency — a tendency for us to tell ourselves that we KNOW EVERYTHING and all the reasons why things are happening or not happening right now in our businesses.
Dan Antonelli, founder and creative director of Graphic D-Signs, Inc has found that successful business owners are neither content nor complacent. That’s because they realise staying on top means constantly reinvesting in their business and anticipating the future. Successful business owners are forward-thinking, constantly staying on top of trends in their industry. They’re also constantly educating themselves about their clients and market conditions. They work on their business, not in their business—and they’re great at planning and executing strategies for the future instead of being reactionary. They know where they want to go, and they’re focused on putting together the team to help them get there. Successful business owners also keep company with others who are successful, sharing that can-do mentality while purposely avoiding those who instead insist “you can’t.” And they hire people to support their mission to build a great company.
In his brand new book The Reinventors, Jason Jennings cautions “The only chance any of us have for prosperity is to constantly re-imagine, rethink and reinvent everything we do and how we do it in order to remain relevant. We must all become reinventors and we’d better do it quickly.”
So how do you plan to fight complacency, the lethargy induced by your own success and the sweet seductive lure of your ego that has ALL the answers? Now is the time to take a fine-tooth comb to your business processes and look for re-invention opportunities.
Why not spend the next week answering the following questions. Your ego will tell you that you don’t have nor can you afford the time to answer questions. You’re not in school - you have a business to run! Ignore your ego and seek to develop insights to improve your competitive advantage.
1. How have your customer’s needs changed during this economic downturn and what do you need to do to respond aggressively?
2. What are your industry’s best practices in lean manufacturing, accounting and marketing? How fast can you adopt these practices and create new customer value?
3. If your competitor knew your company’s biggest vulnerabilities, what would it do?
What can you do to protect your flanks before this happens?
4. What new technology might disrupt your business model? How do you put it to use before somebody else does?
5. What is the rate of innovation in your marketplace? What would be the implication if you invested and doubled that rate?
6. Have you made any changes to the way you market and advertise to capitalise on cost-effective media channels?
7. Has technology and supply-chain efficiencies opened up new doors in global markets? Is there a new way to work with suppliers that can provide competitive advantage?
8. Do I have the right human skill sets in my company to compete today?
9. How do you measure success? Is it still the right measure?
10. Do you have a handle on which operations are making you the most profits? How has your product mix and profitability changed and how is it likely to change?
If you want to be a stick in the mud, thinking that this period of slow growth is completely out of your control and that when the economy gets better so will your business then so be it.
If you also want to hold on to the excuse that people are unwilling or unable to change – if this will make you feel better – then hang on to it.
If however you wish to truly change your results then embrace constant change, focus on staying ahead of your customers’ wants and needs and be ever ready to reinvent. It’s the only way you will remain relevant and enjoy increased sales, profitability and success.
Giselle Hudson is a speaker, author, Business Performance Improvement Consultant and Coach, helping business owners and independent service professionals find their own profitable rhythm of execution. If you believe you are underachieving in your business, that you’re much smarter than your results are showing and that your current performance isn’t living up to your potential then email me at email@example.com for your FREE copy of “How to Get into the Rhythm of Consistent and Profitable Results.”