Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Josh's Top 26 Reasons Why Your Business Sucks

What gives me the right to talk about these? Because I've made (and learned) from all of 'em. We're all works in progress. It's what we do next that counts.

  1. You aren't really in "business". You're a freelancer/specialist who still operates with an employee mindset... Stuck between two worlds: lacking the benefits of employment as well as the benefits of being a self-employed business owner.
  2. You think marketing and sales are "icky" and about advertising, being impersonal, and manipulation.
  3. Your product/service isn't all that great
  4. Your product/service isn't compelling or differentiated.
  5. You are afraid of failing so you're just copying what others are doing.
  6. You take advice without considering its origin carefully.
  7. You built a product/service instead of finding an attractive market and figuring out what they want, need, despise, desire, and wish for.
  8. Your product/service is wonderful but you're trying to sell it to the wrong folks, at the wrong price, in the wrong way, and at the wrong time.
  9. You're stuck telling prospects why they should buy your product/services instead of finding out why they will (and do) buy your product/services... or haven't (and won't) buy similar, competing, or related products/services.
  10. You don't actually like business (or don't think you do). You just like your product/service.
  11. It's not your business... it's someone else's.
  12. You don't desire success enough... including a willingness to fail often, incremental improve, learn every day, have an open mind, and the confidence and energy to put up with in-your-face uncertainty.
  13. You work too hard on the wrong things and not had enough on the right things. Working hard on the wrong things is admirable but also stupid. If stuck or losing faith, stand back and make sure you're on a (likely) right path. Strategy before tactics. Insight before planning. Planning before implementation.
  14. You talk about yourself and your product/service before you talk about your customer, prospect, and the outcome they desire, wish for, need, and will get.
  15. You are selling before informing.
  16. You are advertising your "name" and your "brand" (a focus on yourself that the prospect cannot even yet relate to or trust) before you've drawn the prospect in by focusing on their issues, problems, concerns, context, pains, needs, hopes, and wishes.
  17. You more often than not go with the "safe" (failure avoiding) choices. You also give up too soon. Even though you learn from failures and getting outside your comfort zone. And, other than self-inflicted stress from worry, the majority of "failures" are non-fatal, temporary, and (ironically) incremental steps toward success.
  18. You are unfocused, scattered, and have an endless "To Do" list. In part, that's okay. There are always opportunities to improve, get better, grow more, etc. That's the upside of having an endless "To Do" list (and idea lists, resources for outside advice, etc.). The downside is that we can let it keep us scattered constantly and never completing key initiatives supporting critical objectives. Accept the endless lists (they're a good thing - call them "opportunities" if it'll help your mindset). Narrow down your daily, weekly, quarterly, and yearly projects to the fewest necessary and practical that will move you closer towards your objectives. You can always update plans... but do so intentionally, carefully, and boldly.
  19. You stopped pro-actively learning and improving your capabilities in business, marketing, sales, communication, listening, planning, and strategic thinking.
  20. You don't write down and place in an obvious undeniable spot your top objectives and supporting initiatives (and only them).
  21. You aren't clear and specific about why you do what you do, why achieving your objectives is important, and what doing so would truly mean to you.
  22. You mistake learning from what others are doing, even successfully, with justification to mimic them, not be yourself, not put your own slant on it, lose your own voice in the shuffle, etc.
  23. You seek perfection over success.
  24. You want (and need) help but aren't certain it'll work out.
  25. You jumped in too soon and now are afraid to admit it... so you can move on and get past it.
  26. You think your line of business is unique, your customers are not open to doing things differently, and you're unwilling to adapt ideas from entirely different industries, businesses, and markets to your own.
Add your own below, or perhaps a story that matches up with one of the above, in the comments.

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