Finding out what is really going on in your business rather than treating the symptoms
You:“Man! This really a terrible business to be in.”
Brian: “Why do you say that?“
You:““Well, every time we go to do something to grow the business, we are always stuck.”
Brian: “Why is that?”
You: “Well…cash flow is really poor right now.”
Brian: “Well, that doesn’t tell me much. Why is cash flow poor?”
You:“Well, we have to pay for quarterly taxes and payroll – there was some overtime this time, and then one of the printers went down, so we had to have that fixed. It is out of warranty.”
Brian: “How did you get into this situation?”
You:“Well, we saw that there was a problem with this thing a while back, but thought that we could hang on for a while so that we could build some reserves…”
Brian: “You didn’t have any money in the bank?”
You:“Well…we needed to have a party for one of the employees…”
…and on and on.
So…what was the real issue? It could be any number of things: poor sales,be poor cash handling policies and procedures, low access to capital, etc.. By the time all of this is sorted out, if at all, there is a laundry list of symptoms that are the result of a real problem that NEEDS to be address for the health of the business.. Because the focus is on the symptoms, many times, we, as business leaders, will try to focus on treating the symptoms rather than addressing the cause of the symptoms.
Have you heard these complaints before?::
- “I am tired of working 70-80 hours per week!”
- “We can’t bring in enough regular business.”
- “Every time I hire a new employee, I end up having to fire them or they quit after a short time.”
- “Our unemployment insurance is through the roof!”
Without finding and addressing the root cause of any of these issues, they will continue to occur. But the flip side also exists: if you cannot tell your audiences how you can help them solve their problems, i.e., how they will be better off as a result of working with you or buying your product, in a way that clicks with them you are no good to them and they are less likely to buy from you.
- I design and build custom furniture
- I am a chauffer
- I am a teacher
So what? Nice to meet you. Moving right along.
- I help people with exquisite taste add unique yet functional custom pieces to their living and working spaces
- I take the worry and hassle of driving out of my clients hands and get them to their destinations on time and in great comfort.
- I inspire and expand young minds to explore new possibilities
Hmm. You have my attention. Please tell me more.
Whether attempting to address a problem in your business or getting someone to purchase your solution, precious time will be wasted if the root of the problem isn’t identified and addressed. With limited resources as most small businesses have, is it worth it?
In either case,a poor decision will be made, addressing symptoms rather than solutions.
One more example:
An ecommerce company declared that they were losing money and needed more sales in order to grow their business. They felt that the problem was that they weren’t getting enough traffic on the website, so they decided to invest in SEO services in order to get more traffic.
Well, the site actually generated about 400 or so people per week or about 1600 per month. Out of the 1600 people that were going to the website, only about 16 of them (1%) were actually purchasing. It seems as though there may have been another problem.
The question that deserves to be asked is – of the traffic that is going to the website, why is only 1% converting. Is it the way the site is designed? Is it some lack of clarity? Difficulty in getting to the sale? Wrong item selection? Wrong people going to the website?
If the business owner invested in SEO services before addressing the real website conversion issue, they probably would have wasted money driving MORE of the same traffic with the SAME abysmal results, or, at the very least, missed out on opportunities to close MORE business.
The same thing happens with your audiences. You invest a ton of time, energy and money trying to get them to understand and buy into your value proposition and how you do what you do, but never truly express to them that you can solve their particular problem…and they pass you by.
Consider this: Coke doesn’t try to get us (consumers) to purchase sugary, sweet, flavored carbonated water that can strip the paint off the side of a house…they suggest that you “Open Happiness,” addressing the problem of the lack of happiness.
So ask yourself – when you are facing a challenge in your business…what is the root of the problem, and why presenting your offerings to others…what need, desire or problem does this address? I promise you, no one “sells ice to Alaska natives by saying, “would you like to buy some ice?”
I would love to hear your thoughts!
Rick Meekins is the Managing Consultant at Aepiphanni Business Consulting, an Operations & Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated helping business leaders DESIGN | CREATE | BUILD extraordinary businesses.
Aepiphanni is the trusted small business operations and strategy consulting firm for business leaders who are seeking forward-thinking solutions to help them plan for and navigate through the challenges of business growth. We work with you to develop solutions that will set you apart in your industry and give you direction focused on lasting, strategic results.
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