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Several barriers influence business success and serve to explain why customers, and us, behave the way we do.
This blogs looks at some common barriers, why they exist and how to overcome them.
The greatest barrier for many is fear. Fear manifests itself in various ways. Avoiding risk, procrastination, and stress all have their roots in fear. Have you felt you needed all your ducks in a row before starting a new business or launching a new product? Unfortunately, delays allow the opposition to catch up or pass us. Getting to market with a good product allows us the opportunity to quickly learn how to make it a great product. Ways to do it better may remain hidden without learning from trial and error and most importantly – customer feedback.
Napoleon Hill believed successful people decided fast and changed their minds slow whilst unsuccessful people decided slow and changed their minds fast. Decisive decision making allows the barrier of procrastination to be overcome and action taken. There are always reasons against taking action, we just need one compelling reason to act. Although fears develop when young to protect us, as we age they often do not serve us so well. Feel The Fear And Do It, by Susan Jeffers, suggests action should be pursued despite feeling fear. One person said he bought the book but never read it. “Feel the fear and do it anyway, it said, right there on the spine, that’s all I needed.”
This is often easier said than done. Many of us cant get over the start, or action, line. As unfair as it may be, the stress of thinking over and over prior to acting can be worse than that from actually doing something. In his book, Do It Tomorrow, Mark Forster says breaking whole tasks into several smaller tasks can allow action to happen painlessly. Mowing the lawns may seem daunting but what if you decided to “just get the mower out” and maybe “just fill it up” and perhaps “just clear the obstructions from the lawn?” You may well find it’s easier now to mow the lawn that the other hitherto smaller, less daunting task you had consider doing earlier. Not everyone goes through barriers like bulldozers. Sometimes we need to chip away until we’re ready.
Time is a barrier. Time spent doing one activity means not spending the time someplace else. An unhappy customer can cost a lot of time. A simple apology and refund may be the best option to save time, save stress and save the customer. Sometimes we all guilty of creating our own time barriers between tasks we need done by trying to solve unsolvable issues. Devoting ourselves to winning that contract, fixing that flaw, working around a regulation when we might step back and realise the rock we are watering will never bear fruit. Search for a contract elsewhere, accept the flaw, do the right thing although it costs – this is usually the best policy.
Our biggest barrier is communication – are our potential customers hearing our messages or are we invisible? No customer who never knew we existed ever bought from us. How can we overcome that barrier? But when we have found each other, how can we overcome communication difficulties to avoid misunderstandings, assumptions, conflict and preserve the enjoyment doing business with each other? If that sounds like a relationship, thats just what it is – barriers in how we communicate can prove fatal.
Ever tried operating a business without cash? Money is a barrier! Delivering the product to market costs money but so do sales! Administration, interest charges, postage, wages, resources all cost up front yet often the money is coming some way down the track. Lack of cash can be a real barrier to buying new stock, providing services, paying overheads – sometimes this can grind a business to a halt. Prompt payment removes the barrier. Credit card fees may be a small price to pay for simplicity and ready cash. Power Companies know this and offer prompt payment discount. But what to do when debtors haven’t paid? A phone call may but sometimes more drastic measures may be called for. Despite a signed contract, payment is not guaranteed. If the risk to you is large, negotiating a discount in return for prompt payment could avoid disaster – a bit of something is better than a lot of nothing.
Confusion is a barrier. The keen entrepreneur explaining what they do in esoteric language only an insider may know will be an insurmountable barrier to an investor or potential customer. Talk in the language of the customer. Albert Einstein said if you can’t explain it simply you probably don’t know it well enough. Being able to express clearly what we do and why or how we do it can be valuable so not only does our customer know what to expect but sometimes we clarify what it is we provide.