It’s not my nature to make grand, absolute statements (like "this is the biggest reason small businesses fail") but sometimes I have no choice. I have seen so many examples of this, I’d be remiss if I ignored it.
So, what exactly IS the biggest reason small business fail?
It goes by various names.
Some call it the "Field of Dreams Fallacy". Or you might call it the "Better Mouse Trap Myth." No matter what you call it, it’s still the same thing and it can be fatal to any business. It’s fatal because it seduces us into thinking all we have to do to run a successful business is create a great product or service.
After that, people will line up at our door because we’ve built the better mouse trap. Or we’ve created the field of dreams.
We focus almost all our resources on building the operational part of our businesses. We develop our skills. We rent space. We hire people. We buy supplies and equipment. We design and develop a product or service that will knock people’s socks off.
We put so much into WHAT we offer people, we forget to tell people about it. Or we don’t tell enough people.
Either way we’re doomed.
Because a business without customers is NOT a business. Customers provide revenue which pays expenses which keeps the whole thing running. Customers give your business meaning and energy and life. Without them you have no business.
Small businesses fail because they don’t get enough customers.
They don’t get enough customers because they don’t tell enough people about their product or service.
It’s really not that hard. But we make it hard because we feel (even though we might never say it) people should come to us. They should find us.
We fool ourselves into thinking the quality of the product or service is all that matters. We ignore our marketing because "that’s fluff". We lie to ourselves and think if we’re good enough, word will get out about us. People will talk about what we do.
Maybe it’s arrogance. Maybe it’s ignorance. Maybe there are simply not enough hours in the day to get to everything.
But those are excuses. And they don’t mean a thing when you can’t pay your bills because you don’t have enough CUSTOMERS.
If you own a business, if you manage a business or if you’re planning to start one, remember this:
You are not Kevin Costner.
If you build it you better tell people about it. Otherwise they will not come. They won’t even know who you are.
The solution is simple.
Your marketing should be as routine as paying the rent every month or turning on the lights every morning. It should be an automatic, established, ordinary part of your business.
It should NOT be a project or something on your To Do list that you’ll get to when you have the time (or the money). It should not be something you do only when sales are slow and revenue is down.
Because then, it’s too late.
The most successful businesses I have seen make marketing a regular part of their business just like accounting, employees, taxes, rent, computers, etc. It’s nothing special. They just do it.
Is your marketing built in to your business? Or is it an add-on, a luxury item that you do when you can afford the time and money?