Your Ego Is Killing Your Business
Editor’s Note on October 21, 2020: While this post was written in 2013, this idea about your ego is still important and relevant today. Some additional details have been added – the updated notes appear in bold, italic text below.
To be a small business owner, you need to have a healthy ego. What makes a healthy ego? You have to have enough faith in yourself to think you can make money based solely on your talents. You have to believe in yourself enough to price your goods and services at a level that’ll let you earn a living. You have got to believe that you’re good. However, that same ego which gives you enough courage to start a business can be your downfall.
The Ego Mistake
For many entrepreneurs, the process of launching a company begins with the lightbulb moment when they conceive of a breakthrough idea for a new product or business. However, so many entrepreneurs make the mistake of creating their dream business. The walls are pink because they like pink. The logo has a tiger because that’s the spirit animal that came to them in a dream. They’re located in a place that’s convenient to their house but miles from the interstate. Everything in the business is their dream, forgetting to take into account what their customers dream of. That’s when businesses fail. Very often, they’re so passionate about the idea that they believe its merits will be self-evident to prospective customers—that the innovation is so obviously superior it will sell itself. Wrong.
Truly great entrepreneurs don’t go into business because they love themselves. They really don’t even go into business because they love their field, whether that’s marketing, manufacturing, or macramé. Rather, they do it because they love helping their customers succeed in that arena. They’re passionate about helping people create the marketing that fits them; they love creating widgets that solve problems; they can’t get enough of the smiles on their customers’ faces when they look at the beautiful things which they have created. Great businesses are outwardly focused, not inwardly.
When you’re designing your business, stop thinking about your own wants and needs. That’s not how you’ll be successful. Don’t think about what’s convenient for you. Every decision should come down to: “What does my customer feel about this? How will it affect them?” To take a step back, you must begin with really knowing who your customer is and what need you’re fulfilling. These needs fall into two categories: the root and the solution. The solution is what a customer ultimately buys–marketing, widgets, macramé. The root cause is why customers buy: to make their business better, to be more efficient, to keep warm. To succeed, you’ve got to understand both the root and the solution and sell in a way that addresses each issue. Who you are, what you want, what you like? It doesn’t really enter into it.
Although your ego is important, don’t let it destroy your business. Letting your ego run your business will result in your downfall. Who wants that? Ego is what makes you strong and brave and able to do what you do, but empathy and understanding are what make you successful. Take a step back from your own constrained point of view and really understand your customer. Great things happen when you do.
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