One of the big problems in our society today is misinformation. There are lies all around us in the media, in books, the internet, and even just the day-to-day gossip we all participate in with our peers and colleagues. Perhaps one of the greatest problems we face in the Hyper-Information Age is the lack of verification that used to be required when stating one’s opinion.
I have long been a critic of the internet, and have argued that it is one of the most destructive technologies ever invented. Perhaps my biggest gripe is the megaphone it gives people who are just not worth listening to. Before the internet, you had to “be somebody” for people to listen to you. Today, morons can become famous by publishing information that is, quite frankly, lies.
These lies pollute the minds of entrepreneurs who are sincere in their desire but are led astray by evil people that are perpetuating ideas that simply have no value in the real world. These are the 5 biggest lies about business.
1. There is a mystical force governing the movement of money.
Goons like Deepak Chopra, new-age yoga and “spiritual” freaks, movies like The Secret, and the stupidity of the idea of karma turn many people superstitious about money. This is a dangerous idea because it tricks some weak-minded people into thinking that if they turn into a “more deserving” person, then they will have doors magically open before them and they will get new business opportunities.
If you believe this, I hate to break it to you, but money ends up in the hands of scumbags and criminals every hour of every day. Money has no conscience – it simply arrives in a person’s possession when they engage in high-value transactions in the marketplace.
While I am a big believer in God and trust him to put me in the right place at the right time, I am very much opposed to ideas that remove the responsibility from our shoulders and place it solely in the hands of God (whatever you believe God to be), other people, or external forces.
One of the main principles I learned early on in my sales career was that massive action equals massive results. Keyword: massive. To create large inflows of money, a person must be proactive in creating those opportunities, not waiting around for things to get better.
Self-development only becomes valuable when it changes the actions that one takes; everything else is just talk. Dan Kennedy says it like this when referring to multi-millionaires: “Success is much more about what they do than what they think.”
2. Money is the result of hard work.
If this were true, road construction workers and dishwashers would be amongst the highest paid people in our society. But they’re not. So, clearly “hard” work, if defined by the amount of labor and drudgery put into a job, is not the magic ingredient for wealth creation.
Marketing is the highest payoff activity for any businessperson. In the world of finance, the dealmakers/baby kissers/hand shakers are the ones who get paid the most and hold the highest positions on the pyramid.
Operations can be easily outsourced to employees, which is why most business owners who “get this” can usually sit back, arms folded, watching the money come in. That’s why bar and restaurant owners are typically not the people cooking the food, pouring the drinks, and stocking the inventory. And that is also why the owners make the most amount of money.
If this is offensive to you, let me alleviate that affront by letting you know that there is not one skill in marketing or salesmanship that cannot be learned at a local library or from the legions of books available on Amazon. To further add to your relief, there is also no conventional schooling required, as I have found the most successful marketers alive are self-taught and continually buy books and audio programs, and attend conferences. People choose where they wish to work, whether in operations or in marketing.
However, what I have found is even though most entrepreneurs know this, many do not study marketing, own many books on the topic, or do any research at all into “how to sell more stuff.” It is without a doubt one of the biggest reasons so many businesses fail so quickly. If you’ve been working your butt off and still aren’t seeing any returns, you’re probably not working on marketing.
3. Pursuing one’s passion results in profit.
I have watched legions of stores come and go on 17th Ave, with some of the dumbest business ideas ever conceived at the core of their offering. One person owned a crystal and psychic trinket store, another an olive oil store, another a hip-hop clothing store, another a frozen yogurt store, another a specialty vinegar store…the list goes on and on.
I’m sure these people loved their products and services, and they were probably enthusiastic about selling them. Too bad no customers were enthusiastic about making purchases. These businesses all died within 24 months: what is the lesson here?
Businesses are market-driven, not passion-driven. If businesses were passion-driven, I would be making tons of cash sitting on my ass all day drinking beer, eating nachos, playing video games, shooting guns, riding around on ATVs, and watching football. But as much as those things are passions of mine, I’ve yet to find anyone willing to pay me to do those things.
My friends, entrepreneurialism is only for the emotionally mature, and part of emotional maturity is practicing accurate thinking. Accurate thinking about business requires a healthy market demand as the foundation. If the product or service in question does not have sufficient demand, I don’t care how good a marketer you are – the business will fail. I would rather be in a business where I could do an “average” job and earn $50,000 a year than in a business where I must do a “spectacular” job to earn the same amount of money. What is the key difference between the two? Market demand.
4. Business is a marathon, not a sprint.
There’s a fable you’ve likely heard about an old bull and a young bull sitting atop a hill overlooking a fenced-in group of heifers. To make a sometimes-coarse story short, the young bull wants to charge down the hill and through the fence, which would surely cause the heifers to scatter. The old bull remarks that they should walk down the hill calmly. When I first heard that story, a wealthy engineer told me that tale with the moral of the story being: be patient, don’t get too excited, and take your time.
While I agree there are times to be patient, I vehemently disagree with any philosophy that justifies slow action, laziness, and a molasses-like work pace. I work with a lot of people that make a lot of money, and I also work with people who struggle to pay the bills. I can tell you that one of the biggest differences I see between these people is speed of execution.
There are some operators I work with who just think and work faster than others. These are the people who have the capacity to run multiple venues and be successful with each of them. Then there are others who are slow and take 15 days to do something I could do in 15 seconds. They work with no urgency, they put themselves under no pressure, and then when they are faced with pressure they fold faster than Superman on laundry day. Business is not a marathon, but it is a series of sprints, and those who are successful go full tilt until they punch out at the end of the work day.
5. If you build it, they will come.
This is another idea that is perpetuated by people in operations who believe they come first before marketing. But ask any of the thousands of people who have tried opening bars and restaurants which failed within the first 24 months and it will become clear that just because you have a business with a product to sell, doesn’t necessarily mean people are going to start lining up to buy it. Successful businesses need to have a plan to market, sell and constantly get exposure.
One of my earliest mentors who was a millionaire used to tell me, “I wake up paranoid every day that my money supplies are dwindling, and that it’s up to me to go out there and figure out ways to get more of it.” Some people do not feel this pressure and therefore do not prioritize learning how to market, where to find customers, and what to say to them once they are in sight. If you build it, you will have a product or service to deliver. If you want customers to come and spend money, you need a marketing plan.