How many of these myths do you believe… and how much are they holding you back?
This article began with a question over coffee.
“What are the most important lessons you’ve learned as a business coach?”
It certainly made me think.
I’ve worked with many people in varying industries and at different points in the business lifecycle, but certain lessons do keep popping up across the fields.
Here are just 6 of the key myths that I’ve seen trip up business owners, and how to avoid being another casualty.
MYTH 1: I must follow my passion
One of the first “lightbulb-moments” I had after first joining Dan Bradbury Ltd back in the heady days of 2014 was hearing a business owner of some repute say:
“I deliberately created businesses in areas I have no interest in because it helps me to remain clear-headed and focus on creating the systems and structures that I know work in order to create a sellable asset.”
If you understand business and if you practise critical, strategic thinking then you should enter a market that you have passion for. But don’t mistake emotional connection to a job or industry with knowledge of the business-side of things.
Set aside some quality strategic time every week to get focused on how you can become a better leader. Once you have a well thought out battle plan with time to test and re-group built-in, then you are free to enjoy your work.
Myth 2: I have a staff/marketplace/supplier problem
It’s easy to see when coaching others but notoriously difficult to notice when it’s you doing it: almost every problem we have originates with us and our perceptions.
Am I saying that if Dave comes in 40 minutes late stinking of Special Brew that it’s myfault?
This is just a key personal development point that it pays to remember. In a lot of cases the problem starts with our perceptions. If we place the blame for situations outside of ourselves we lose our power to create changes and miss vital learning experiences.
Look in the mirror. Your biggest business problem is staring you in the face.
Realise that, in most situations, if you reflect on your role in either creating or maintaining a problem and learn a lesson, you will reach your goals much quicker and with much less stress then if you get into the fruitless habit of complaining and passing the buck.
Myth 3: I have to make this perfect before I send it out
Business owners have high standards. This can be a good thing! But I have seen many people falling at the first hurdle because of an unhinged perfectionist streak, simply because perfectionism eats up time and resources better spent elsewhere.
Perfectionism is the perfect way to fail.
Get used to getting 80% percent right and acting before you feel totally ready. In most cases gaining and keeping momentum on a project is more important than having the perfect result.
If you’re working on a new project then prototype rapidly. Get something up to a minimum viable standard and make some sales. Prove the concept before investing large amounts of capital and opportunity cost in a project that may or may not work, regardless of how ‘perfect’ you made it.
Myth 4: I can create desire for this product or service with the right words/angle/sales team etc.
A key lesson from the sales and marketing world is this: yes, there are ‘tricks’ to increase desire, to move someone to action quicker and easier. We’ll touch on those in an upcoming article. But here’s the catch… you can’t create desire you can only amplify it.
Market research and the above-mentioned rapid prototyping are key to launching a new product or service. You have to locate, understand and articulate the existing desires of your target market and speak to those impulses in your marketing and selling efforts.
You can’t create desire from a vacuum.
Get to know your target market better than your competitors. Speak to them, survey them, locate the hidden fears and desires and help them get results quicker, easier more simply than anyone else.
Talk about their problems in their language. If you do that then you can amplify the desire and channel it towards your product/service.
Myth 5: To be successful I must copy my competitors!
When we start a business, or look to add some new aspect to an existing business, we often look at what other people are doing… and we copy them. After all, what they’re doing must be working!
In business everyone copies everyone else and our message to market gets drowned out in a vast sea of sameness. Standing out is a good thing, being unique is an advantage.
Seth Godin is an entrepreneur and author. In his classic book Purple Cow he talks about why you should make your business remarkable:
“Remarkable doesn’t mean remarkable to you. It means remarkable to me. Am I going to make a remark about it? If not, then you’re average, and average is for losers.”
Make your brand, your voice and your message unique to you. Look to innovate where others toe-the-line. Be provocative, be relevant and be real.
Sometimes there is value in copying what works and not re-inventing the wheel, particularly when it comes to sales and marketing. But there’s a big difference between utilising what works and disappearing into the background.
Myth 6: No one can do this as well as me, I need to do it all.
Business owners often tend to not only have the above mentioned perfectionist streak, but also a need to micro-manage every project.
One of the first things you need to do when you’re ready to scale your business is to fire yourself as the main cog of the machine and build up an effective and engaged team.
We can roughly lump business owners into one of two categories… motivators and demotivators.
Motivators acknowledge, understand and inspire people. If they get an average player on their team that person will want to give more, do more and be more and if they get an A-player that person will most likely stay with them for the long term.
De-motivators suck the spirit and enthusiasm out of even the most engaged of team players.
The main difference between the two is their beliefs about people.
Motivators believe that people can grow and they communicate to that person as if they were the best, most engaged version of themselves, holding a space for that person to grow into.
De-motivators believe that people only work well when given strict guidelines, mentally putting that person into a box with fixed potential and that comes through in their communications.
Hire good people and expect the best from them. Allow them to innovate and improve on existing systems if they believe they can do that. Monitor and manage their results but allow them the freedom to grow in self-belief and self-efficacy.
Here is an apt quote from advertising legend David Ogilvy:
“If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants”
Until next time… be unique, be inspirational, be motivational and be in charge.