Building your business 101

It surprises me how easy it is sometimes to see other people’s problems.  Of course, since that’s what we get paid to do, I guess I’m in the right business.

I was talking to a business owner this morning.  He was complaining about the success of some of his competitors compared to his company.  He said he couldn’t understand what the difference was.  He did EVERYTHING the same way they did.  Yet they seemed to get more business than he did.

I listened for awhile and finally asked the question that kept running through my mind, “If you do everything like they do, why would I as a customer choose you?”  It stopped him for a few minutes.  I told him my point was not to be disrespectful, just to point out the obvious–

Build your business on what your customers want, not what your competitors are doing.  Yes, staying in-tune with them is important.  But, if they are already doing something, it’s too late for you!  You need to go and find out what your customers need that no one is addressing.

Further probing brought out that actually this business owner was still running his business like he did 10 years ago.  No clear business plan or marketing focus.  While his competitors had actually expanded into new services area, offered new products, and generally had tried to stay ahead of the curve.

I pretty much tell it like it is.  Good or bad.  So I told him, “you need to change what you are doing.  Look at what your core skills are and listen to what your clients have been asking for.  You need to get a recovery plan in place.  Only if you are willing to make some large changes in how you do business will your situation improve.”

I can’t say anyone faced with that observation is thrilled.  But he took it fairly well.  He knows there is a problem.  Now, it’s just a matter of if he will act on it.

We all have choices.  He can choose to be the mouse that stayed behind (Where’s my Cheese book reference) the mouse that starved but eventually made it, or the one that accepted the situation and decided to do something about it.

Stay tuned, I’ll let you know how it turns out.