I work with a lot of startups. Sometimes the new business owners become impatient because they want a path to quick profits. Problem is, most startups are handicapped by one of two problems. Either the business isn’t very original which makes it hard to gain traction, or the message of the business is so muddy customers do not trust it.
As with all business issues, the owner or managers want quick results. Unfortunately, quick results are a mirage. Yes, a business can run a promotion. (By the way, the noun is promotion.) Having a sale, a promotion, can generate some quick interest and create the illusion that the business is taking off. When the sale ends, so do the sales. What is worse, a business, especially a quality oriented business, that tries to grow on the back of cut rate deals will find the market evaluates the business based on the cut-rate prices. Sales drop and so do margins. Failure ahead.
The other way businesses try to speed up the growth process is to “game the system.” They get friends to “Like” them on Facebook and Google+. They get friends to make fake comments on blog posts. And worst of all, they resort to having friends and relatives post phony reviews.
Sure, it feels good to see those 10 new “Likes”. The business may even move up a page in search results, for a while.
Then it all comes apart. Trying to fool the system is being a fool. All of these shortcuts carry a penalty. When a business does these things, the character and culture decays and your market knows it. It is very hard to recover from speeding a process that requires time to develop. It’s like cranking the oven up to 500 degrees to bake a cake in 10 minutes. There will be a time, around 5 minutes in, when the cake looks to be doing okay. It may rise a little, brown a little. But the center, the heart, is raw and the bottom is burning. That becomes clear at the end of the 10 minutes. There is a mess to clean up, wasted ingredients and a lot of lost time.
Don’t rush. Don’t cheat. Grow like a tree. Can’t wait? You should have a business that can scale up or down as necessary. If business is slow, then slow your spending. The fool speeds up.
Here’s a tip for every business. Tune your message. When you get the message right, they will come to you. When that happens, go ahead, run an ad and shout the message. You won’t need discounts to buy customers if you work smart.
That is what growing a business is all about. Working smart.
Chris Reich, TeachU