Being an entrepreneur is a journey of learning. Looking back on nearly two decades of being an entrepreneur, I recognize that not only have I learned a lot from the folks who went before me, I also still have a lot to learn. Each day, a new piece of information hits my radar, helping me to hone my craft and get more clarity about how I can improve my business and myself.
In looking back, however, it’s painfully clear to me that there were times when I have lied, to myself and my clients, in order to feed my success habit. What struck me more is that I’m not alone in telling these lies, and sometimes, we don’t even realize we’re doing it.
The 6 Lies Entrepreneurs Like to Tell (Themselves or Others)
#1: “This product (practically) sells itself.” In all my days, I have yet to see a product that answers every objection, asks for the sale, opens the client’s wallet, removes the payment, and finalizes the transaction without at least some effort on my part. Yet time and again I’ve heard this line fed to any number of would-be entrepreneurs looking to get in on a ground-floor opportunity.
The truth is that being an entrepreneur means you’ve got to get a handle on marketing and sales. You’ve got to be diligent about learning what matters to your clients, and serving those needs as best as your product or service is capable. Great products and services don’t sell themselves; they just make it easier for the client to say yes when you ask for the sale.
#2: “I can’t afford (to do) this.” If we used the same tactics on ourselves that we sometimes use on our clients, what would we say? “You can’t afford NOT to” is often what I hear (and have said myself). The truth of the matter is that if something is important enough to us, we make the commitment. We find a way to make something happen.
Saying you can’t afford something is a cop out. The truth is somewhere between “This isn’t in the budget right now” and “This isn’t a priority for me at this time, no matter how much I want it” so stop lying to yourself and get clear on what really matters.
#3: “I can’t afford NOT to (do this).” Before I get irate readers telling me I don’t understand their situation, take a breath. I grew up incredibly poor and was nearly homeless myself so I know from whence I speak. At the same time, this lie is one we feed ourselves (and our clients) in an effort to justify a burden we (or they) are not fully ready to bear.
When it’s used as a tactic, it’s a lie, and you’re creating an expense for yourself (or client), not an investment. You probably can afford to do it differently, more inexpensively, or not at all. If you’ve gone this long without it, what compelling reasons do you have for doing it now?
#4: “We’ve got something for everyone.” Um, no, you don’t. I’m pretty sure that a homeless child with no source of income would not be an ideal prospect for your products or services. This is another lie that entrepreneurs tell when they don’t want to do the work of finding what I call their “Perfect Fit Customer”.
While it’s true that your products and services may serve more than one Perfect Fit Customer, it’s a lie to yourself and your clients to insist that there’s something for everyone. You most certainly may sell to clients that fall outside your Perfect Fit Customer profile, but do the work and get clear on who will most resonate with your offerings before you try to sell to anyone that can fog up a mirror.
#5: “Marketing is more important than mastery.” Also known as “If you build it, they will come.” Balderdash. In this day and age of disgruntled customers moving at the speed of Twitter, you can be sure that mastery is at least as important as the marketing. If the world beats a path to your door and your offering stinks, it won’t take long for people to find out – and tell everyone in line behind them.
Then, not only do you have a crappy product on your hands, you’ve also got a lot of making up to do with your Perfect-Fit Customers, assuming they ever want to do business with you again. Take a cue from Walgreens, who waited much longer than their competition to get into the online arena. When they did, however, it was a first-rate job, and people spoke highly of their efforts.
#6: “It has to be perfect” and it’s cousin “Good is good enough.” Perfection is difficult to measure, but at the same time, we need to strive for excellence. Good isn’t good enough in the marketplace in most instances, and anyone that believes that was probably sold a bill of goods by someone who was doing “good enough” in the first place.
Mastery comes when we pursue excellence – and continue to pursue it. Academy award winners aren’t “good enough”, Apple isn’t “good enough”. Any entrepreneur worthy of mention focused on and harnessed excellence in their offerings. Excellence expands our possibilities while “perfection” stifles us, binds our hands, and keeps us focused on some ever-illusive achievement that’s more like vapor than reality.
I confess that I’ve told these lies a time or two in my career, and I’d wager that you too have fallen prey to using them in your own business. The reality is that they do more harm than good because they lull us into a false sense of thinking we know what we’re doing, instead of giving us a clear yardstick by which to measure our business growth.
Take the time to really know your customers, know their needs, and work to serve them with excellence. That is the best way to develop a strong, long lasting and growing business.
What about you? What lies do you catch yourself telling? Share your own in the comments!