by Lisa Sisley on May 16, 2019

“If you build it, they will come” is only true in a movie. Everywhere else, you have to TELL them you built it. And then be prepared to build something completely different.

Sometimes I ponder the differences between businesses that keep on truckin’ and those that fail. I know there’s a lot of actual research…and not just pondering…out there on this topic. Metrics and data and such. But let’s talk for a minute about mindset.

Every business is selling something, either a product or a service. The hope is that enough people will buy what you’re selling that you cover your costs and even make a profit. All businesses invest a lot of time, energy and money in creating something they can sell.

When we meet with the owners and managers of new businesses, they are sometimes so enamored with what they’re selling, they subconsciously resent the need to market it. They think the benefits of their product or service should be self-evident, that it will “sell itself” and that customers will just naturally choose their creation over the other options.

They may not be thinking hard enough about what people actually want, or why people are already buying the other options. They’re thinking about this new thing they have, how much time they put into dreaming it up and the work that went into creating it. They’re proud of it and they love it. Perfectly natural, and perfectly understandable.

But here’s my advice:

Stop loving it. Love the people who might buy it. And give them what they want — even if that means dreaming up and creating something completely different. Then, you still have to tell them you created it.

Ouch! Harsh, right? But hey, I’ve been there.

Here at New Boston, we’ve been forced to stop loving what we were selling at several points in our history. When we started in 2006, most of our work was print or website development of one sort or another, but then some guy named Zuckerberg came up with Facebook, and that Bezos guy kept thinking up new ways for us to order stuff, and then the Great Recession hit…it’s always something, right?

We adapted and helped our clients market in radically different ways as consumers completely altered how they interact with businesses and organizations. Change in our service mix is standard operating procedure, and thankfully, we’ve got a team of innovative and flexible thinkers who stay one step ahead so they can give our clients great advice about how to reach their target markets.

If more new business owners would step back a bit from their “baby” and become a little more hard-hearted about their brainchild, they’d greatly improve their chances of success.

Successful businesses are constantly asking themselves hard questions. Who’s the competition? What do they do that we don’t? What other competitive advantages do they have? What makes our product unique? Who do we need to hire to make this business succeed?

Experienced, successful businesspeople are proud of their success, but they’re constantly looking for the fly in the ointment. They don’t love their product. They love the people who are buying it and they’re trying to give those people what they want. They adjust their product offerings, their prices, their marketing and their production processes constantly to meet changing consumer demands. They care about their business as an entity, and how to keep it profitable, and they do what it takes to make that happen, even if that means sending the baby packing.

In short, love your customers, not your product. And you’ll get to love your business for a long, long time.