Sometimes, we’re too close to the problem we're facing to even know there is one. That's why people will often choose to work with a coach.
A coach can help you see what is going on in your world from a different point of view. And it’s this different point of view that can help expose blind spots which, left unnoticed, might destroy your best-laid plans.
In my time as a coach, I’ve found three common blind spots that trip up new entrepreneurs time and time again. As you read, ask yourself how any one -- or all three -- of these blind spots might be keeping you from the success you deserve.
Blind spot 1: Neglecting your sales skills
This might not be a unique insight, but many entrepreneurs forget that if they don’t know how to sell, they won't make money. Some focus on the development and manufacturing of their product. Others pour money into marketing, and still others worry about looking "the part" of a successful entrepreneur.
But, if you want to be an entrepreneur, you must know how to sell. You need to know how to cold call, make a presentation, negotiate and close a deal. If you are an entrepreneur -- or considering becoming one -- you must honestly evaluate your ability to sell.
One of the keys to doing that is to consider how well you communicate with others. If you can effectively communicate with others, you will be well on your way to mastering the art of selling.
The first step in becoming a master communicator is learning how to listen. Most people pretend to listen, but are actually thinking about what they will say the moment the person they are listening to shuts up. As a result, they make responses and statements that often have little to do with what the buyer was talking about in the first place. If you are anxious for the person you are presenting to be quiet, so you can get to your pitch, odds are that you will end up missing the mark.
Too often, salespeople offer a solution (the product or service) without even listening to the problem or goal of the buyer. They are focused on making a sale. They see the buyer more as an obstacle to overcome than an individual to serve. True selling, however, means being passionate about your company’s product or service while being compassionate with the wants, dreams and needs of your fellow human beings.
Blind spot 2: Forgetting to pursue your passion
Being an entrepreneur is hard. In the beginning, you wear all of the hats. While your business card may say “Founder and CEO,” you are also the mail clerk and receptionist. Many people are drawn to entrepreneurship because they like knowing that the success or failure of the venture lies solely with them.
Where the problem lies is when the day-to-day grind of collecting payments, keeping the doors open and handling complaints begins to make you lose sight of why you signed up for all of this in the first place.
If you are not careful, you can easily become disconnected from your passion; and once your passion is gone, your days are numbered.
Most entrepreneurs become detached from their passion because they get caught up in the “thick of thin things.” In other words, by spending so much time, energy, and effort on the administrative activities of the business, they have little energy, if any, left over to devote to the visionary activities.
The key to overcoming this blind spot is to schedule time for your passion. (It should be noted here that while it is good to be passionate about your product or service, this is only a small part of a successful business. True entrepreneurial success lies when the entrepreneur is passionate about the entire business.)
Schedule time to work on each component of your fledgling business. For example, you could schedule two hours on a Tuesday afternoon to work on the mission, becoming a better leader or building your team through additional training. The key is not to use this time to handle the to-do’s of these areas, but to determine ways that you can reimagine or improve them.
The idea is to be creative and break with the status quo. Thinking critically about each area of your company will help you become passionate about making your business the best it can possibly be.
Blind spot 3: Not knowing the true value of your product
Selling your product or service short -- and yourself, too -- is what can happen every time you wonder if you are charging too much. Even if you have these doubts subconsciously, your lack of confidence will be conveyed to the consumer loud and clear.
Nowadays, there are low-cost and in some instances free versions of just about every product out there. Because of this, you may be tempted to follow suit and price your product solely on what is cheaper than your competitor’s. But, remember: If people love your product or service, they will be willing to pay top dollar for it.
Think about Apple products. People are willing to pay hundreds of dollars more for computing devices that are for all intents and purposes the same as their competition's. Macs and PCs both can surf the Internet. They both can edit pictures and play media. They both are essentially the same thing. However, if any die-hard Apple disciples were to read that last statement, they would come back with a litany of why Macs are better than PCs.
And that is the point. Steve Jobs knew -- and believed -- in the value of his product and wasn’t afraid to ask consumers to pay more for not only what the product could do, but also for the experience it brought.
By carefully considering the blind spots listed here, you can get out of your own way and building a successful business. Selling, having passion and believing in your product will make you better than you are today and help your business to be profitable.
You just need to go do it.