How to use confusion as a business-building tool
You probably view confusion pretty negatively. After all, what’s to like about “lack of understanding; uncertainty; the state of being bewildered or unclear in one’s mind about something”?
The good news about confusion is that it’s both manageable and potentially profitable. You can work your way through confusion by developing clarity through contrast. This is a powerful way to super-charge your confidence, beef up your marketing messages, and stay sane.
One of the entrepreneur’s never-ending challenges is to somehow avoid overwhelm when it comes to deciding what steps to take to grow your business. Being very clear on who you are, what you offer to whom, and why your ideal clients can’t get exactly the same thing from anyone else will go a loo-o-o-oo-ng way to keeping you out of overwhelm. Better yet, this strategy works no matter what stage of business you’re in.
Clarity = self-confidence = client confidence = cash.
If you’re in the early stages of defining your business, this clarity-through-contrast exercise is very straightforward. First, you simply draw up a list of all the things you DON’T want to experience in that business. For example, your “don’t want” list might include:
- a daily commute during rush hour
- high overhead
- whiny clients
- clients who are all talk and no action
The next step involves – you guessed it – flipping these undesired features 180 degrees to identify what you do want. The fun part of this flipping portion is that there’s typically more than one way to achieve the opposite of your “don’t wants”; this is an illustration of what Mike Dooley, author of Infinite Possibilities, calls “not worrying about the cursed hows”. For example:
- to avoid a daily commute you can work at home OR travel to a library/coffee shop/office outside of rush hours
- to avoid the hassle of hiring employees, you can work with W9 subcontractors OR barter services
- to avoid high overhead, you can, again, work from home (and deduct a portion of your utilities, etc., as a business expense) OR take advantage of a local co-working space
- to avoid any sort of Client From Hell, you can make sure you have enough financial cushion before launching the business (so you don’t feel obligated to work with deadbeats simply for the money) OR you can become excellent at qualifying prospects so you weed out the potential problem children before they become energy suckers
See? Straightforward and – Dare I say it? – even kind of fun.
On the other hand, you may have already decided on the basics of how your business will look. While this is huge progress, the last thing you need going forward is to be viewed as a commodity – someone whose services are perfectly interchangeable with those of anyone else in the same industry. Yet this is exactly the risk you run if you fail to clarify how and why you’re different from other service providers in your field. (Can you say “unique selling proposition”?)
Figuring out how to clearly set yourself apart from your competition can be pretty confusing. After all, there are certain basic skills or qualifications required of anyone seeking to earn a living in a particular industry; if all of you in the field have the same basic tool set to offer, how do you present yourself as unique? Here are some strategies that will cut through the confusion – yours AND your prospects’.
Remember that no one cares what you do.
Listing the products/services you sell or the activities/processes you use is an exceptionally efficient way to make your prospect tune you completely out. Few prospects care about the nuts and bolts of what you do; they’re concerned with what you can do for them. This leads directly to strategy #2:
Talk outcomes, not activities.
What any prospect really cares about is whether or not you can solve the problem that’s strangling her like an albatross around her neck. If you talk solutions and outcomes rather than tasks and activities, you’ll be miles ahead of the competition in your prospects’ minds.
Identify any negative stereotypes about your profession and illustrate how you DON’T fit them.
Are people in your field often regarded as pushy and insensitive? Then work on your listening skills and focus on being of service. Are many of your competitors seen as all talk and no action? Then emphasize how you genuinely make a difference in your clients’ lives. Are most people in your field geeks with hardly any skill in speaking with actual humans? Then be sure you’re articulate and easy to talk with.
When you learn how to legitimately set yourself apart from others in the same profession, you’ll go a long ways to erasing the confusion in your prospect’s mind and making it easy for her to see that you’re the answer to her prayers.
Three years ago, as I was in the early stages of designing my new business, I was so confused by all the options and decisions facing me that I spent most of my time flailing and floundering. In desperation, I devised a system that enabled me to pull free of overwhelm, stay focused on doing the right things at the right times, and prevent my head from exploding (always a bonus).
Since I fit my own ideal client profile, that method for dealing with my own confusion developed into the Take Action Now System™, the framework I now use with clients who are currently struggling like turtles stuck on their backs. My own sanity saver became the vehicle for shifting clients from stuck-ness, overwhelm, and disappointment to confidence, excitement, and gratifying results. And the fact that I both show clients how to create action plans AND hold them accountable for implementing those plans sets me apart from the plethora of business coaches in the marketplace.
So what are some of your success stories about cutting through confusion and building your business as a result? All success strategies are welcome!
(And thanks to caesararum for posting the image of the confused – and confusing – traffic signal in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)This entry was posted in business development and tagged effectiveness, focus. Bookmark the permalink.