A paradox is a statement or proposition that, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory. If something is a paradox, then it’s a puzzle, a mystery, an enigma, an inconsistency. Which makes me think: What happens to us, and our businesses, when we try to live with a paradox? What happens when we contradict ourselves? When our actions are inconsistent with our plans? When what we say and what we choose to do just don’t line up?
What you say you want vs. what you are actually willing to do
In “What’s Your Impossible Dream?,” John Mariotti encourages small business owners to “dream big. Think about what you’d really love to be doing and consider how you can get from where you are to where you want to be.” He says to plan ahead so that you are prepared when the opportunity presents itself.
I agree with him, but what happens when what we say you want doesn’t match up to what we actually do? Yes, we do the work to maintain the business, to keep the current customers happy, and to bring in enough new clients to keep the “machine” churning. But are we consistently doing that things that prepare us for that big dream we’ve harbored in the back of our minds for years?
Marketing and Sales
What gets their attention vs. what turns them into customers
Sales and marketing are crucial elements to moving your business to the next level. Ivana Taylor, in “How to Stop Worrying and Start Selling,” suggests that we turn a deaf ear to the negative talk about the economy and get busy working on the things that we can change. Ivana believes that we should put more of our “focus on building a sales and marketing system…instead of putting…attention on political and economic factors that are impossible to control.”
In her three-step process, the first thing you do is set a baseline to understand what you currently do for sales and marketing. In this initial step you will discover two things:
- The actions you take that get the attention of potential clients
- The actions you take that turn potential clients into paying customers
Your website gets their attention, but it’s your sales call that closes the deal. Your email marketing keeps you top of mind, but it’s your live demonstrations that makes them a client. Are you following the full process?
So many small business owners have a desire for “set-it-and-forget-it” marketing and sales. However, the truth is, you have to the see the process all the way through in order to turn “potentials” into customers.
Maintaining the status quo vs. updating your business
“Entrepreneurs are natural possibilities thinkers,” says Diane Helbig in “Why Minding Your Market Is Essential to Your Business.” But at the same time, Helbig reminds us, you need to “keep your finger on the pulse of your industry and the buying habits of your clients.” You don’t want to be left behind. It’s our job to remain engaged in our industry and to adjust with the changes. But what it takes to maintain the status quo in your business and what it takes to update the company and grab hold of “possibilities” may not be the same things.
How we deal with these paradoxes determines our success level. We can’t afford the cost of inconsistency in our business, planning and marketing. We can’t live with senseless actions that don’t produce the results that we want. The contradictions can cost too much.