I had a barn cat at the farm for almost 15 years. She came with the name Boo Kitty, which is one she seemed to like. She was happy hunting, being lavished with attention while home and roaming free as she did her wild thing covering miles and miles on her daily trek around the area.
I was worried sick when she disappeared. After months of looking for her, I spotted her in a neighbor’s driveway. She was 20 pounds overweight. The woman must clearly spent tons of time luring her because when Boo was hunting, she was untamed.
I spotted the ‘for sale’ sign and asked if the neighbor would be taking Boo with her. She said no; then called me cruel for making my barn Boo’s home. Funny, she didn’t see that turning this happy, active cat into an inactive, dependent creature then kicking her back outside to fend for herself when no longer convenient was a whole lot meaner. Some people just don’t get it.
Are you helping or enabling?
Helping isn’t always help. Easy rarely brings happiness. Entitlement mentalities don’t lead to fulfilling lives. Sometimes allowing one to struggle is the greatest gift you can give someone. It might make you feel good to lend a hand, but consider what that handout may be doing long-term.
I’ve had some clients over the years I thought I was helping, but wasn’t. Usually these folks shifted business strategies each time they spoke to someone new, failed to commit to following-through then found themselves in trouble when things didn’t magically fall into place. Periodically, I’d step in, do damage control, create and implement programs to generate sales and get them back on track while providing discounted fees to make it so.
Then the cycle would start again, until I stopped rallying the troops for another bail out.
Some would step up and arise triumphant. Others would fail and be forced to acknowledge this wasn’t the right path for them. Most were stronger and happier once they discovered the only way out of the dilemma they created was to look to themselves for solutions.
Failing isn’t always bad
When working with small business owners, it’s easy to lose sight of the business side of things. You become friends, start thinking emotionally instead of logically, tend to get involved in aspects of the business beyond your defined role and can feel compelled to done your cape when trouble descends.
Letting someone fail is a lot harder. It can also be the nicest thing you do.
Owning a small business is hard work. It can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have. There’s something about being responsible for generating every dollar that you earn that not only ads to your sense of security, but also shifts your perspective on the value of your time. Every moment you spend on unproductive activities is wasted. There’s no salary paying for chat time, procrastination, web surfing or driving time. What you get, though, is a sense of satisfaction beyond imagination for creating an entity that makes a difference.
Frankly, I’m scared. There’s a trend in this country (the US) toward laziness, entitlement mentalities and convictions about who owes you a living (usually the government – what happens when everyone is on the dole with none left to pay taxes?) with a move away from personal responsibility.
What all those rallying for more programs that ensure everyone gets their fair share seem to miss is we humans don’t thrive without purpose. The price you pay for scamming the system (or encouraging others to do it for you) is immense. It sickens your soul.
Small business marketing against the grain
Today’s marketing buzzwords include ‘easy’ ‘free’ ‘simple’ ‘fast’ ‘proven’ ‘cheap’ and all sorts of other terms appealing to those looking to create millions while sipping drinks on the beach. Do you really think appealing to that crowd will produce business success stories for your firm?
Referrals are the best way to build business sales. If your marketing message draws tons of views, or follows, or subscribers or clicks from people who don’t have the stones to effectively implement what you’re offering, how effective or profitable will you be long-term? Sure, you’ll get a few suckers that buy into your hype, but they won’t be happy – and neither will you.
Instead of chasing the latest craze, consider, instead, being thoughtful about who your ideal client is. Craft a strategy and a message that truly resonates with them. Don’t worry about how popular you are on social media. After all, how many people do you know who are putting majority time into online chatter making a living with their business?
You might be surprised at how effective a contrarian approach could be with your small business marketing. Regardless, you’ll have a lot of fun trying.