3 Common Beliefs that Will Ruin Your Business

Your business doesn’t mind if you believe in Santa.

Not even if you wait for his flying sleight every Christmas with a cup of milk and cookies ready for him.

Your business doesn’t mind if you’re Christian, Jewish, Zen Buddhist, Muslim, or Hindu.

But there are common beliefs your business doesn’t tolerate. They will make it crumble and you may not have any idea why it’s happening.

I learned them the hard way – maybe I can spare you the trouble.

1. I Can Do Everything Myself

This is a variation of, “I’m the best person to do everything in my business.”

Do you really believe that’s true? That you’re the best person to do accounting, cleaning, web design, legal council, and – yes – marketing.

There’s a very good chance you’re the best person to do one of these things. And as the old business clichΓ© says, “Do what you do best and get someone else to do the rest.”

Let’s take an example – an example from marketing (hey, I’m in marketing so is it really a surprise I use marketing examples?):

Where’s your biggest growth-potential?

I know the intuitive decision is to work on the things that aren’t creating the results you wish they would create. But that’s not always the “right” decision; you should put most energy into the things that offer the greatest potential growth.

What if your website would convert 15% more visitors into buyers?

What if you’d create a new product that sold 10% more than the previous one?

What if you could raise your prices by 20% without losing customers?

Is your greatest potential growth in conversion? Or in market reach? Or in pricing? Or something else?

Three steps to greater success:

  1. Figure out where’s your business’ biggest growth-potential.
  2. Consider if you can take full advantage of that potential or would an expert help make things easier, faster, and more profitable.
  3. Do something about it.

Yes, some experts are expensive – some even so expensive that your business can’t afford them. But most aren’t too expensive, and they may even offer you a guarantee – at least for their lower-priced services.

Lesson to learn: Don’t think you know everything. Learn from experts. And most importantly: Find help when it’s good for your business.

2. I Only Need [blank] to Succeed

Want a magic bullet? Here’s one:

Keep learning new things every day, work consistently to reach your goals, and forget magic bullets.

As Jim Collins describes in his book, “Good to Great” (review), business success is like turning a huge flywheel. You can’t wait for it to suddenly rotate quickly; you push it consistently to one direction and so it starts to build momentum.

If your business is a rock band, then maybe your success comes suddenly in the form of a great record deal. But as most artists will tell you, the “big break” isn’t usually a “big break”; it’s only a continuum of where they were going after years of relentless practice and pushing (the flywheel).

It’s a bit like the recent frenzy with social medias. “You should take full advantage of every social media. If you don’t use everyone of them, you’re doomed to fail.” Well, that just isn’t the case.

Maybe you never need to (or should) use Twitter. Maybe you don’t have accounts at LinkedIn and Google+. Or have you heard of Pinterest – the new big thing that “every business needs to succeed”?

The real key is to understand what works for your business and then get really good at that. Easier said than done, but who thought business success is easy?

So, keep learning and experimenting, but don’t lose sight of where you’re going and what’s already working.

Lesson to learn: Figure out what works for you and where you’re going. Then be consistent in your actions. But don’t forget to keep learning new things and developing your business.

3. I Should Stick to My Original Plan

Yes, planning is good – even necessary – for a business to succeed. But sticking to a plan isn’t always a clever choice.

Let’s say your plan for tonight is to walk straight to your favorite restaurant, then go to a movie, and then take a cab home. Nice plan, right?

Let’s then say that you need to cross a bridge to get straight to the restaurant, but the bridge is closed. You think to yourself, “I should stick to my plan…” and swim over the lake.

When you get into the restaurant, you see three rats on the floor – one of which is dead. You think to yourself, “I don’t want to change my plan…” and find a free table.

Off to movies… There’s a building on fire right next to the movie theater. You think to yourself, “The movie is the most important part of my plan…” and sneak into the theater.

After a while the movie ends but the theater is on flames and you’re the only one still inside. You think to yourself, “What did my plan say next? Oh, get a cab…” and so you call a cab and start finding your way out of the flaming building.

You get out just barely before the building collapses, but fortunately you find your cab quickly. You look at the driver who’s obviously drunk and think to yourself, “I have to get home right now or I won’t get enough sleep…” and get inside the car.

Now you’re home, after the firemen got you out of the car that the drunk driver drove off the road…

Lesson to learn: Planning is a starting point. You can never stick to a plan just because you want to stick to it. Your plan must adapt to new circumstances.

Have you believed in these things? Can you think of more beliefs that ruin businesses? Share your thoughts in the comments below…

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26 Comments

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  1. Peter,

    This is timeless information and I agree with each and every point.

    Especially the planning part is important: Sometimes you just have to realize that even your well thought out plan may not be working and you need to adjust it a bit.

    Cheers,
    Timo

    • Peter Sandeen said:

      Hi Timo,

      I think many people don’t succeed because they’re not willing to face the facts (if the facts are telling, “Change something”). Sometimes you just need to forget the original plan and find something else that works better. Or like someone said, “Ready, shoot, aim; much faster than ready, aim, shoot”; sometimes it’s a good idea to start by shooting and figuring out how to adjust to hit the goal πŸ™‚

  2. Awesome stuff, Peter, but I’m not surprised, you tend to deliver πŸ˜€

    I suffered from #1 mainly, for a long time, because I thought if I was a mentor, well that was my role, I shouldn’t be the one “being mentored”, and as soon as I let that idea go, things started changing in a big way πŸ™‚

    #3 was a problem when I was stubborn and younger, but that was a long time ago.

    #2 never really appealed to me.

    Rock on, man!

    • Peter Sandeen said:

      Hi Jason,

      Thanks πŸ™‚

      As Ryan Hanley said in a recent post, “The most important person in the room is the one who has the most to teach you” (sorry, if the quote isn’t perfect). I love that idea and I think everyone should take that to heart πŸ™‚

      • I tried to find this quote to tweet it — I LOVE IT TOO!

        • Peter Sandeen said:

          Hi Jason,

          I think it’s Eugene Schwartz or David Ogilvy… I might be wrong.

  3. Peter,

    I can’t agree more with the idea that your Business Plan (or Marketing Plan) needs to be a fluid document. Just because you planned something doesn’t mean thats exactly the way it’s going to work out.

    Love what you’re doing here buddy,

    Ryan H.

    • Peter Sandeen said:

      Hi Ryan,

      Thanks a lot πŸ™‚ It’s always nice to hear that my thought resonate…

      I’ve always been a little skeptical about those really long business plans that predict every dime the business will make and pay in the next 459 years. I understand that they’re very important especially when you’re starting a “large” business and you’re taking a loan for it. But usually less then 10 pages would be sufficient.

  4. Howdy Peter.

    Love your magic bullet:

    “Keep learning new things every day, work consistently to reach your goals, and forget magic bullets.”

    Entrepreneurs sometimes forget success comes from many small, connected steps.

    As Dory in “Finding Nemo” says: “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming… ”

    Good stuff my friend. πŸ™‚ Eric

    • Peter Sandeen said:

      Hey Eric,

      Thanks, I use that as my business motto πŸ˜€

      And thanks for a great quote πŸ™‚ It’s what entrepreneurship is all about; just keep swimming…

  5. Stellar post Peter! Love it…especially the plan example.

    One belief I think can hurt a business is when they try to be something they are not. Whether you are a one man/woman show or you are a huge enterprise. It’s important that you always stay real to what you are and believe in it.

    Great stuff!

    • Peter Sandeen said:

      Hi Chris,

      Yup, that’s one of the more common reasons why huge businesses start to crumble; they try to grow for the sake of growing and forget what they’re all about. And many small businesses try to grow (and expand to areas where they’re not good at) because they don’t trust they’ll make it with a narrow focus.

      Knowing what you’re good at, sticking to that, and getting even better at that is just so important. I believe there are exceptions to this rule, but they’re statistical anomalies, not something you should model πŸ˜€

  6. Nice work Peter – I think Belief #1 is the biggest one, and it flies right in the face of the typical dominant Type A personality entrepreneur.

    Most say: “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself”

    I help my clients understand: “If you want something done right… make sure it’s fully documented and systemized in an easy to read, step-by-step format and then let someone else do it.

    • Peter Sandeen said:

      Hi Steve,

      That quote “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself” is just so wrong.

      And I think there are many situations where you shouldn’t even document and give away, but just tell someone, who really knows what they’re doing, what end result you have in mind. If they fail to deliver, then find someone else. But sure you should systemize the things that need to be done repeatedly… And I’d advice people to do that too πŸ˜‰

  7. Peter,

    Great advice. Your perfectly captured at least two concepts I tell myself and my clients. You just said it better. The third one about not having to stick with the plan is important too (for those stuck on one idea for too long). I also run into the opposite a lot. Always moving to a new idea (so they need to go back to the point about being consistent). Anyway, I’m rambling – great post!

    • Peter Sandeen said:

      Hi Tom,

      That’s a great point; you shouldn’t sacrifice consistency for flexibility. Fortunately they can coexist quite nicely, though it may be difficult to find that balance…

  8. Meagan said:

    This is spot on Peter! I sooo struggle with #1 as I’m sure most small business owners do. I think as a small business owner it’s hard to let go of areas of your business, even if it’s one of your weak areas, because you built the business and you think you know what’s best. For me, it’s more like I don’t think anyone else can do it like I can. I know that I need to give the things I don’t enjoy or the things I’m weak in over to someone else.

    I think I spend too much time doing the little things that don’t matter as much instead of focusing on the bigger, more priority items that could really help my business grow. As for what my biggest growth potential is… I’m not sure I know that at the moment! Thanks so much. You’ve given me a lot to think about!

  9. Peter – awesome post.

    You know I use to say and have the ‘I only need [blank] to succeed’ mindset. I found out that this was caused by procrastination. I wanted to succeed so bad but whenever it would get to become productive I would find any excuse I could to procrastinate.

    Ive worked at it since then and have made such a huge improvement. I am now all about production and results which is the only thing that counts in business.

  10. Marcus said:

    I totally agree with you. A plan is there to for us to guide us in reaching our goals; however, it should never be set in stone.

    I remember a friend who say that some thing will always go wrong, so we must have preparations for such contingencies.

    • Peter Sandeen said:

      Hi Marcus,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts πŸ™‚

      A good plan has a plan B… As performing artists who try to figure out every way their act could go wrong so that they’ll know what to do if something does go wrong.

  11. Luisa said:

    Very good thoughts. These beliefs are very common, yet most people want/like to think they can do everything themselves. I really like that you included the ‘lesson to learn’ part.

    • Peter Sandeen said:

      Hi Luisa,

      I don’t believe a business can become really successful if the owner tries to handle everything… Or if an entrepreneur thinks that they know everything about everything πŸ˜‰

  12. […] most businesses have realized those are false beliefs. Or maybe it’s that businesses that didn’t change their beliefs have died […]

  13. […] 3 Common Beliefs that Will Ruin Your Business (from PeterSandeen.com) […]

  14. Unwana Johnson said:

    Hi Peter,
    This is quite informative, so many claim to know everything about everything.
    Thanks for sharing

  15. Great article thanks. Some people planned but planning is not always completed, So we tried to change our plan according to the situation but it does not mean that you change your plan completely.

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