I have been meaning to write this post for a little while now but in the midst of expanding the business and working through 1 million commitments I didn't get to it. There I am and I am glad I didn't earlier because I have taken a bit of time to refine my perception and my ideas. "Business owners need a reversal of education." - I guess that's a pretty blunt statement to make but stay with me and I will have 'gain de cause' (something to the effect of upper hand in my native tongue - French)..
Every day I have the honor of trying to help people in what they do and love, most of the time the people I am helping are very good at what they do and in all circumstances should be able to make a great living out of it. However.. they don't and it breaks my heart.
When I first started the business and even when I was training my BDD's (Business Development Drones) one question also comes up : " Who is to blame?.. Having considered the question quite a bit - a lot of the time it's not the business owner or the person I work with as they are diligent, intelligent and great at their core competency. I partly blame the education process that we go through as business owners :
1. We are not taught to make the difference between running the business and THE business (the promise to the customer.)
What I mean by that is we are taught to get great Mercedes like accounting systems, electronic filing systems, insurance packages and all sorts of things but that is a part of running the business. It's not the business as in what your customer pays for. I would say that 90% of the business owners I work with do not have a marketing budget and have never invested in marketing apart from getting a website. Most of them don't have a marketing plan and are completely lost as to how they can take the business to the next level but ask them what Xero can do and they know it by heart. I will never discredit what Xero can do for a business (I use it myself) but it's definitely not my promise to my customer. The ultimate focus on improving the visibility of the business and its capacity to be even more saleable is absent in most cases. I'd push the analogy even further by saying that we should look at what we are taught in our commerce degrees, being a law and commerce graduate myself - I was never taught how to do a proposal, how to sell, how to upsell or how to scale a business vision at uni. In that sense I blame the education process we go through as business owners.
2. We are not taught to be strategic.
I remember catching my first business book when the business had just started and it said something like 'build it and they will come' - truth is they won't because nowadays THEY have 10,000 choices and reasons to go elsewhere so this idea should be gone now. When asked about quick ways to get what I call an invisible sales-team such as strategic partnerships, knowing where your customers go before and after they have transacted with you, a customer lifecycle planner and other strategy - related questions, many of the businesses we work with are lost for answers. We are taught to start business, put systems in place (systems and more systems) but we aren't taught about strategy and the need to be strategic.
There is so much literature out there about businesses failing within 2-5 years mainly because they fail to plan. My observation is that they fail to market and to get leverage. They focus on improving the internal aspects of the business but not the actual business their customers see, its vision and how to get their message out there to those making them sustainable : customers.