Last night I watched a video on Youtube of an interview with Seth Godin the bestselling author of over fifteen books including ‘Purple Cow’.
The interviewer asked him about few of the obstacles and lessons he learnt during the formative stages of his business.
He told the story of a particular situation he had with one of his biggest clients.
They had not delivered a satisfactory service to the client. The client called furiously complaining that their operations were suffering as a result of his company’s negligence.
He apologised to her, promised to fix the problem and promised that the incident was never going to be repeated. But in fact it was repeated the following week.
This time when the client called again, she was really angry. To calm her down he told her he was going to jump on a flight immediately to handle the issue himself.
She warned him if he ever set foot on her premises, she was going to have him arrested.
He said from that moment on, he realised his business needed real professionals if he wanted to succeed and keep his promises to his clients.
So what does Seth Godin story have to do with business failure or what does it have to do with your business?
The last two weeks has been real busy for me trying to rescue two businesses that are on the brink of collapse. One of them has spent thousands on a website that is attracting lots of traffic but those traffic are failing to convert and the other has spent close to half a million to import products from overseas that are rotting in their warehouse.
What I noticed in those two businesses and many of the businesses I consult with is the same problem that Seth detected in his business…the lack of professionals.
Many of the clients I serve are professionals: medical doctors, lawyer, accountants, dentist etc.
The common trend I find when dealing with many of those professionals is they have the tendency to believe that the fact that they are professionals in their areas of expertise, they can run a business.
The average accountant, medical doctor, lawyer or dentist will view his business in terms of his services. The accountant thinks his business is number crunching, the dentist thinks his business is extracting teeth, while the doctor thinks his business is treating patients.
I struggle all the time trying to make them understand that there is a difference between the deliverables and the …the lawying, teeth extraction, treating or number crunching.
The lawying, teeth extraction, treating or number crunching are the deliverables.
Their business on the other hand denotes every aspect of their operation:
- Target market – their prospective customers
- Value preposition or Statement of Benefit: the problems they solve
- Channels: communication, distribution and sale funnel through which the value is channelled
- Customer relationship: customer service management
- Revenue stream: how the customer pay for their services
- Key resources: resource required to deliver the services
- Key activities: the deliverable
- Key partnership: outsource or business partners
- Pricing structure: pricing of their services
A business encompasses everything, which means that medical, dental, accounting or law training does not qualify anyone to run a business.
However, because professionals like the internet company or the retailer I consulted see their business just as the thing, they do not deem it necessary to hire other professionals to fill in their skill gap until it is too late.
When I do copywriting for professional businesses, either for their website, brochure, or other marketing collateral, almost without exception they complain that it is unprofessional.
My questions to them are always:
- What do you know is professional copywriting, texts written by English professors on corporate websites?
- How do you know those copies produce result?
Then I have to go through long hours of explaining to them why I included each and every word in the text.
They view their business from their professional frame of reference as a result, for them business is like medicine, law, accounting or dentistry.
This is the reason they refuse to hire real business professionals who can help them grow their businesses, which cause a lot of them to fail.
If you run a business and any of the above applies to you, do not wait until you are staring at the abyss or your customer call and threaten to have you arrested before you realise that you need professional business help.
Business is a professional like medicine, law, accounting or dentistry. To succeed in business, you either need to develop the skills yourself or hire those who already possess the skills.
As I walked out of the doors of the company that was half a million in hot water, I felt guilty taking their money. It felt to me like a doctor who knew that a patient was about to die yet took their money for treatment.
I was honest with them and told them that we can only try to stop the bleeding and hope that maybe just maybe we can find some pulse somewhere.
I hope for them and I hope for you that you do not wait until your business is on the operating table loosing blood before you realise that you need professional help.
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