Lolly Daskal, the President and CEO of Lead From Within, recently shared a hugely popular post on Inc.com called Harsh Truths That Will Improve Your Life Instantaneously. Like a lot of folks who read her article, I was inspired.
Here are nine harsh truths form the article about business. These things may not be fun to hear or think about, as Lolly notes, but they can help you improve your business, starting right now.
I chose to make a small note after each truth - based on my own experience.
1. Not everyone can be your customer — and that’s okay.
If you change your business model or product/service to satisfy a few demanding clients, or even prospective clients, you could end up upsetting or (worse) alienating many of your most valuable ones.
Allan: This is a true fact. We have the urge to please everyone. Sure, we need the income, we have a business. But we can be lured away from our important tasks.
2. Plenty of people will think you’re “wrong” — but it’s more profitable to be “wrong” than to prove you’re right.
It’s often easier to say, “You are right, we are wrong.” Rather than fight with an unhappy customer, it’s almost always better to just refund their money — or at least some of it — even if the issue they’re complaining about is of their own doing. In the long run, these people consume so much of your team’s time and energy that it’s more cost effective to just let them have their way.
Allan: Totally agree. We tend to spend a lot of time on "difficult" customers - which do not really supply income - but a very low wage pr. hour. And a lot of frustration. This frustration can can eat up hearts. They must go - and not come back. ( they can go and bring terror to our compeditors)
3. Not every client/customer will love you — and that’s okay because you’ll learn more from the haters.
Businesses grow from solving customer problems and addressing complaints — it’s not the “Good jobs!” that pressure you to be better (although those are nice). It’s the challenges your team has to work through that teach off of you the important lessons.
Allan: True, I have actually learned a lot from "difficult" customers. They ask all kinds of strange questions; which does force you to study. And Think. And you improve.
4. People don’t trust your brand — but they do trust the people who represent it.
Dell’s senior social media strategist, Nazli Yuzak, said it best: “People buy into people more than they buy into products or services.” What I take away from this is that businesses are better off when their employees are empathetic, professional and, yes, nice.
Allan: Yes, Brand awareness is important - but it's still you I am dealing with. We buy from people - not brands. And if I am treated really bad - or worse - with ignorance - I might never come back. Well known brand or not.
5. Everything always takes longer than expected — but you have to power to set realistic goals and expectations.
Take the time you think it will take to complete a project and double it, heck, triple it. By setting realistic goals for your business — rather than aspirational ones — you can prepare your business for small victories, not disappointments. We all want this.
Allan: Goal setting is important. I have tried falling into the trap of highflying goals. Sure, you need to think ahead - but it's worth making points - and be a little pleased with yourself. It's ok. And don't kill yourself over time - things tend to take longer - than we planned.
6. You’ll never be able to accurately calculate the return on investment of your social media efforts — but that does not mean those efforts are in vain.
It’s 2015 and businesses cannot ignore social media — even if its value is ambiguous and hard to measure. You can either seize the opportunity or step aside while others pass you by.
Allan: Old question in my line of business. ROI can be different things - but for most - short termed income (USD). And when we do an online ad campaign - we can messure a lot. Also the sales. When we do content marketing - it's different - because it is branding. We are building a realtionship - we supply info. Like this article, right. Can I messure the direct USD income of this article - no. But we can try to make an impression. And maybe - you will buy in the future. But diffucult to messure, right.
7. Not every employee you hire will be the right fit — and quickly letting someone who doesn’t fit your culture go can improve your chances of success.
If you have an employee whose philosophies don’t match your company’s, it’s better to part with them sooner rather than later. There may be a steep learning curve when it comes to figuring out who is right and who isn’t, but quickly letting people go when you know they aren’t right for your team will give your company the greatest chance of success.
Allan: We need good people - but not fights. Every company is founded on some ideas - and ways. And everybody working for a company must walk the same way; not different ways. Thinking about it....I have seen this a lot in my career. It's a big problem.
8. Your employees aren’t always going to agree with you — but their input will make your company better.
I make it a point to hire people who are smarter than I am. If you do the same, it means you won’t always agree with your employees. This is a good thing. The last thing any boss wants is a bunch of “yes” people. It’s better to have constructive conflict than no conflict at all.
Allan: Good point here! I find people more cleaver than me for SI (not diffucult - some would say). It does work - and It's the only way to improve.
9. Your industry will change — but you have the power to change with it, or before it does.
If you constantly anticipate change, you will be able to keep your business agile and be looking for opportunities where your competitors might not.
Allan: Change will come. But we are all fans of "yesterday". It was better. No, It was not! Ok, some lines of business does change faster than others. True. But its easy to fall asleep. Happens to all of us. But we need to stay on alert.
/ Allan Loumann Lissau