Depending on whom you’re listening to, you’ll hear a whole range of differing opinions about what’s the most important aspect of growing your business and marketing it.
I don’t think there’s any one right answer; like everything else in life, this business lark is shades of grey and it’s a complex adaptive system. So no one thing is really responsible for success or failure.
But I think two things need to be in place before anything else:
- Your knowledge, skills, and experience
- The growth mindset
Because without those two things, it doesn’t really matter what else you do.
If you work really hard on honing your skills and becoming amazing at what you do, you’ll already be ahead of most others in your industry. Most people settle for mediocrity. I’m not just being mean here; the law of averages and numbers and maths says so – it’s all about averages. Most people aren’t amazingly good or amazingly bad. They’re beigely indifferent.
I’d rather be known for being amazingly bad than indifferent, if I’m honest. People have made whole careers out of being amazingly bad (Katie Hopkins, anyone? Simon Cowell?). But I work to overdeliver and be as amazingly good as I can.
Do I fall short sometimes? Hell yeah. I’m human.
But here’s the thing: most people don’t even try.
Take Rayburn Bob, for instance. The chap we got out to service our Rayburn just before we moved in. He did the servicing, then when it came to light the stove, there was an unplanned fire. Not his fault; there’d been an oil leak.
But when we got the local plumbers in to have a look, they told us Rayburn Bob hadn’t actually done a proper service. We wouldn’t know, you see, not having owned a Rayburn before. He hadn’t cleaned out the top hot plate. He hadn’t cleaned out the burners. And he’d put some of the wicks in upside down.
Nor was the problem as bad as he’d made out; right now, I’m sitting in the Rayburn Room wearing only one jumper and able to feel my fingers, because the stove’s been running since yesterday lunchtime. It still needs a little fettling and we’ve not had the bill yet, but I’m confident it’s not going to be anything like £1,000.
I’ll never be calling Rayburn Bob again because people I now trust have told me he didn’t do the basics of his job properly. Bill and John, though, are friendly and welcoming, and they’re doing a thorough job as fast as they can to get our heating working.
First and foremost: they know their shizzle. Inside out and back to front.
Second: they’re helpful, friendly, and they want to help us solve our problem. T’other chap just washed his hands of it and left when it became too much trouble. Which I’m now glad of, but that’s not the point.
Honestly, there are so many mediocre business owners out there. All it takes to stand out is to try a little harder. Be a little better. And surprise and delight your clients as often as possible – including when you make mistakes.
Especially when you make mistakes. Mistakes we can forgive; dealing with them badly, we can’t.
Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.
PS Speaking of mistakes: we still have no broadband or landline. I wrote an amusing email to Gavin Patterson, head of BT. I’ll share it tomorrow. It’ll explain the whole thing, and show you how you can avoid inducing rage in your clients.
PPS If you want to get a head start on that, you could give my book a whirl. Grab a copy here…