Over the last few years, I have probably heard thousands of lies that business owners tell themselves. As a business owner, we tend to believe what works… and just because something works a handful of times for us; we tend to believe that is how we should operate. Here are some of the most common lies I have heard business owners tell themselves… What sneaky lies have you told yourself and believed?
If you build it, they will come.
- FALSE – You need to tell others — CONSTANTLY. It’s irresponsible and lazy to think that if you only tell a few people, they’ll do your work for you. You need to light MANY fires and keep telling NEW people about your idea. ABS – Always Be Selling. Please keep in mind that Field of Dreams is a movie that had a huge marketing budget. They made the movie and MARKETED IT! People didn’t just show up looking for a great movie.
If I market it for a while and it does not go anywhere, then the idea/service/product was a failure.
- WRONG – You need to try new ways of marketing. If something does not work with a certain type of methods, it does not mean the product is wrong. So many products or services out there started out being marketed as one product and did not become popular until they were marketed as something else. If you feel stuck, change your angle or change your marketing method.
- If something fails, it is almost always because the owner of the idea stopped trying to make it work.
Word of mouth is the best advertising.
- FALSE – I would not present just ONE method as ‘the best’ method. It is different for everyone. In order to be successful, you need to constantly try different methods. One may work better than others for you, but that won’t work for everyone. To get stuck in saying that one certain method of marketing is ‘best’ might just mean that you haven’t tried the others that work better. What is the root of ‘word of mouth’ for your business? Customer service? High quality service? Bribery?
I don’t need a business plan, I’m doing well.
- FALSE – Does a pilot fly without a map? Do you go somewhere new without knowing how to get there? How should this be any different? Yes, eventually you may wind and meander to your destination, but it would have been more successful if you had a map.
- So many folks get lazy & don’t make a business plan. Any reason for not making one is an excuse NOT to improve your business. Even if you don’t use it constantly, you still outlined where you want to go. This creates goals for your business and keeps you away from being lazy or getting bored. Creating a business plan gives you direction and helps you (and others) work both consciously and subconsciously towards a goal. People who write down their goals have an 85% higher chance in succeeding in them than people who do not write down their goals. Keep that in mind.
Mission Statements are pointless. I don’t need one.
- It’s not just for you! It’s for your customers. By stating you have a mission statement or a company ideology, you are promising your customers they have something solid to rely on when they use you. They can trust you and they know what to expect.
- A mission statement also helps you define your business. Once your business is defined, you can more easily work on finding others who will help you build it. Get something your business can live by and tell the world.
Signs on my car are a security risk so we should not have them.
- FALSE! – A GOOD sign is an asset.
- Your sign should be able to be read from 50 – 100 feet away. A sign helps the community know your car and a good sign will bring in constant leads. It also reflects directly to your business, if your vehicle or your signs look cheap; people will think the same of your business. However, if you spend $500 – $2000 on well-designed vehicle logos (not just window decals), it will certainly pay off.
- If you are worried about security, park across the street or between a few houses so someone wouldn’t know who you were. There are ways to be secure and have vehicle signage.
It saves me money to build my own website.
- Unless you are a professional website designer or you have taken some excellent classes on web design (APSE DOES offer a website school), don’t build your site from scratch. There are so many details of what goes into a website; it’s silly to think that a first time builder can do ‘the best’ job on their first site. Did you know people only stay on a homepage for a few seconds? Do you know people look at the left menu bar more than the top menu bar? Did you know the current trend in having large headers on a website detracts from people getting information quickly, thus takes more people away from your site?
- A well designed professional website will attract more customers because they will immediately think you are more professional. A well-designed site will bring you MORE money in the long-run. If you still want to design your own, don’t skimp on buying cheap templates… and for gosh sakes, adjust the template for your own look and feel because hundreds of other businesses probably have the same template that you ALSO thought was cool.
Consumers like the ‘smaller business’ better than ‘bigger business’ feel.
- This can be debatable. Research shows that consumers prefer businesses they can fully trust. Consumers love to know something is reliable and that the business / service will understand them personally. Many business owners trap themselves into looking and feeling like a small business because that’s what they think they are. Look at the big businesses and give yourself the same look and feel… There is something small businesses can offer that many larger businesses find difficult to reproduce: one-on-one personalization and love towards the client. If you build the customer’s trust from their initial opinion in you and then show them how much you personally care for them, your chances of success are MUCH higher. Offer those subconscious clues that lead clients to trusting you — like a well-designed website, a business history, positive online reviews, etc.
My current customers know what I offer and will contact me when they need me.
- FALSE – Companies have realized that they can generate anywhere from 60 to 300% more business from talking to those who already trust them — their current clients! This isn’t just upselling; this is called being there for them.
- i. Make newsletters. A Facebook business page. Friendly reminders. Remind customers on a Thursday that you can do last-minute let-outs if they are going out on a date night. Even better, work with a new restaurant in the area and give out coupons and tell clients you’ll be their doggie sitter that night. Create a need.
- You need to constantly remind clients of your business because if you are not at the forefront of their mind, they won’t use you as much as they could. After a while, clients will also think ‘Wow, this business is pretty active. We like to know they’re doing things in the community. We like to know they have a community we can rely on.’
Because I have many happy clients, I will get more business.
- FALSE! – If the clients have no incentive or no reason to tell others about your business, they won’t. Just because they like you they may not recommend you if they are asked. Compared to being offered incentives, this has a pretty low return. Encourage your clients to leave you positive reviews online, write hand-written (or typed) letters of recommendation, and to tell people in their office about you! If they can give you a message that you can tell others, then there is much more opportunity for YOU to tell others what they said. After all, you are your biggest fan.
- You can do more with your customer’s testimonial than your customer can. It’s great that you have happy clients, congratulations! Use that to your advantage and tell others how happy they are! (Because if OTHERS are happy, potential customers will believe THEY will be happy, too.)
There are hundreds of other lies that business owners tell themselves. Throughout your day, be aware of not just what you are thinking — but WHY you are thinking it. If you can clear through the clutter and lies you tell yourself, your business will most certainly improve. The clearer your vision, the less bumpy your path.
Keep moving forward,