I had a great conversation with a friend recently over a coffee, where we chatted about some issues that were holding his business back. When we got down to discussing strategies that he could employ to address the matters in hand, he uttered the words that I have heard a gazillion times over the past 30 years, “Ah, but it’s not like that in my business!”
And so the chat went off in the direction that it normally goes when those immortal words are spoken. I suggested that he challenge the ‘it’s not like that in my business’ notion and asked him if he could categorically say that it was true. He couldn’t. I then asked him what effect did holding that belief have on his business? The answer was of course “It keeps it stuck exactly where it is and nothing changes”.
The fact is that so long as he and other business owners like him believe that making some changes to customer agreements in order to improve cash collection or to introduce a charge for an evaluation meeting are impossible to introduce in THEIR business, then NOTHING will change – and the frustration will continue as before.
The problem is that the belief that ‘things are different in MY business’ becomes reinforced by fear. Fear of losing customers, fear of the business going into decline, fear of getting a bad reputation and so this leads to the acceptance that you cannot make changes. And just as there was once a belief that the world was flat and that ships would fall off the edge if they sailed beyond the horizon, that belief was only debunked when someone actually tried it and realised that the world was in fact round all along.
So we too, need to take some action to ‘debunk’ our own beliefs and challenge them. However, on this one, I won’t suggest that you should take the same ‘fingers crossed’ approach that those nautical explorers took. It is my experience that when new rules of engagement are introduced with customers, when boundaries are installed, then in 100% of the cases the business improves. Yes, that is every case!
Of course, there are some customers that are lost, those that don’t want to accept the new way of working because they don’t really care about you and your business. They are only interested in extracting the best deal for themselves and exploiting your lack of structure, your desire to get any business regardless of the terms. As soon as you implement some rules, they move along to prey on someone else – losing them can only be good for business in the medium to long term because inevitably, they are usually the cause of a myriad of other problems as well.
And lest we think that this situation is confined to business owners, it isn’t. It also applies to those in employment, at all levels, those who believe that they should stay on late in the office or should answer those emails from a boss or colleague that arrive in the middle of the night. It is all based on the belief or thought that they should do so ‘in order to avoid being fired’ or ‘in order to enhance promotional prospects’ – and it is complete nonsense! But we are afraid to change the status quo.
So, what changes do you need to make to your terms of trade or employment contract or some other agreement that you are fearful about making?
Don’t tell me, “It won’t work in my business or situation” because you and I know that it is just not true!