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 cliché 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:
- Figure out where’s your business’ biggest growth-potential.
- Consider if you can take full advantage of that potential or would an expert help make things easier, faster, and more profitable.
- 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“, 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.