Steve Baker says your baby's ugly and you don't look
so good yourself, or words to this affect as it refers to
your business and why so many business fail in the first
year. Learn how to look at your own web business with an
objective eye and not the gleaming eye of a parent who just
won't face the truth.
Your Baby's Ugly
Your Baby’s Ugly…
and you’ve got bad breath
I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that 98% of
businesses are small businesses. That bodes well for the entrepreneurial
spirit that has made our nation great. The bad news is that 80%,
that’s right, four out of five new businesses will fail in their
first five years.
After years of building my own companies
and consulting growing businesses, I’ve come to the realization
that too many business owners can’t see their business through
an objective eye, which often leads to their demise.
It takes an incredible amount of intense drive, determination
and a strong ego to breathe life into a business and create products
from scratch, but it’s also that same ego that won’t let a business
owner be objective about what their business needs to succeed.
The business is up and running at light-speed and management
doesn’t have the time or willingness to stand back and take a
real look at what they have created. They are too close to the
problems to see them. Just like a proud parent, they have spent
sweat and time creating this “baby,” and they refuse to believe
that it might be less than perfect.
I call this the “business parent trap.” It is in this trap
that business owners often create and introduce products
that would not test out in the marketplace. There’s an attitude
of “Hey, it’s gotta be great because I thought of it.”
I’ve found that there are usually two basic things wrong
with a business: the product (the Baby) and the management
So how do you assess your business? Are your employees
going to tell you that you’re headed in the wrong direction?
Not likely. Occasionally a consultant will
be brought in to review the company’s performance in a given
area. Unfortunately, when management does bring in a consultant,
they often are really looking for affirmation – not straight-forward
Sadly, some consultants are more than willing to “affirm
for a fee.”
If you’re going to succeed, then someone needs to tell
you if your baby’s ugly or you’ve got bad (corporate) breath.
So here are some blunt yet truthful thoughts for your business,
and perhaps you:
•GET OVER YOURSELF: Know yourself, trust yourself, believe
in yourself...then Get Over Yourself. You’re really not
the smartest person in the world. You built the business
and know it better than anyone else, but no one else really
cares how much you know.
•SPECTATOR SPORT: Conversation with you should not be a
spectator sport for others. Remember that there’s a huge
difference between listening and merely waiting for your
turn to talk. You hired your employees and perhaps a consultant
because you assumed they had brains, so let them use them.
Ask questions and listen to answers.
•JUST ANOTHER PRODUCT Realize that even though you think
that your new product or service is the greatest thing since
the flip-top beer can, the world just sees one more product
and must be convinced. You created this product and you
know every function of it, but customers do not buy functions,
they buy only benefits. Whether your product is a high tech
internet service or office furniture, you must show how
it is uniquely beneficial to your customer. Functionality
makes your products work, Benefits make them sell.
•PAPER WEIGHT: If you have the high tech inventive skills to
create a product, chances are that you don’t have the skills to
market and sell it. Many small business owners think that marketing
and sales are the simplest part of their business, so it is almost
There is only one reason that inferior products outsell better
ones; and that is successful marketing. Think of your marketing
plan as the complete story book that sells your product. If your
story book is a best seller, then your product will be a best
seller. Without the right story that will build sales and distribution,
your wonderful product is just another paper weight head for a
•STAND BACK: Your competitors are not all stupid. Guess
what? They think their babies are cute too, and they may
tell better stories that make them look even better than
yours. So stand back and look at yourself and your baby
and try to look through the eyes of a disinterested party,
because believe it or not, the world is a disinterested
Remember, there‘s an 80% chance that you will not be in
business in 5 years. As busy as you are, and successful
as you think you are, you must set your ego aside and realize
that there are things beyond your control. Successful companies
know that the secret to success doesn’t lie in knowing everything;
it lies in knowing what you don’t know, and finding those
I wish you good luck and great success.
About the Author
Steve Baker is a business advisor who specializes in market
development. He founded a company that did $500 million
the first year and he was sued for $1.4 Billion. He speak
on How to be a Successful Failure, and he is the author
of the award winning book, PUSHING WATER UPHILL With A Rake;
Memoirs of a Successful Failure. He lives in Colorado where
he is an avid poor golfer. He can be reached through his
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