A self-defeating behavior of many businesspersons is thinking, "My business is different!"
When introduced to a management, marketing or sales strategy, most people respond by thinking, "That doesn't apply to me because my business/customers/location is different."
Most breakthroughs of ideas don't come from within an industry. When someone enters a line of business, say accounting, he or she tends to look at what everyone else is doing and does the same, possibly better. This is incestuous behavior that can perpetuate poor results.
The innovator who makes breakthroughs looks outside his or her industry for best practices of others, and then thinks, "I wonder how I can adapt this to make my business more successful."
Dan Kennedy tells a classic story of how he did this. At one time in his life, he was in financial difficulty. The collection letters started coming in as a sequence about a week or two apart, each one becoming more threatening and insistent, and each one referring to the letters sent before, leading to "FINAL NOTICE! We have previously sent you letters requesting that you pay off this account. If you have misplaced them, we are sending you copies of those letters. If you don't pay this account within 10 days, we will take legal action and totally destroy your credit!"
Kennedy thought, "Hmm. If this works to get money from deadbeats, I wonder if it would be effective to get money from good customers by persuading them to take action on offers of value to them." So Kennedy started employing and teaching the sequenced mailing technique. He discovered that an enormous amount of business was being "left on the table" because businesses were only making their offers to prospective customers one time.
Your business may be different in some ways, but in most of the important ways it is just like every other business. You are selling the benefits of a product or service to people (who might be operating a business, government or non-profit.) Your customers mostly take action based on emotional responses and justify their actions with "logical" or rationalized "reasons why." You have to collect more revenue that the expenses you pay in order to stay in business. Your business has to include marketing, sales, leadership, management, production and finance functions.
So when you see or hear of a good practice, quiet your negative voice and ask the question, "How can I adapt this to make my business more successful?"
For new articles about how to improve your business, subscribe to our newsletter, Michael Gray, CPA's Tax & Business Insight!