New business ventures are launched every day, but the reality of modern commerce is that most of those businesses will never reach long-term success. Many entrepreneurs who witness stagnate growth or low sales in their own endeavors find themselves at a loss for how to turn things around. While many of these business owners are tempted to give up, the true titans of industry know how to push through these times of difficulty to build their companies into a legacy of success. If you’re wondering how that is done, turn to Glen Wakeman, who recently outlined a three-step plan for thoughtful perseverance intended to show entrepreneurs how to snatch success from the jaws of defeat.
Wakeman’s plan is rooted in his own learnings through three decades of hard-earned business experience. Educated at the University of Chicago, Wakeman lived in six countries during a twenty-year with his old company. Since then, Wakeman has moved on to form LaunchPad Holdings, LLC, a SaaS firm geared toward working with early-stage entrepreneurs to achieve success through online business planning services.
Such a long career in the world of business, where failure is seen as an almost necessary precursor to personal growth, has played a key role in giving Wakeman a sense of humility. These days, Wakeman uses his grounded nature to show others how to deal with the long odds of being an entrepreneur and what it takes to last through the difficult times on your way to eventual success.
The 3-Step Plan
The first component of Wakeman’s three-step plan is a focus on benefits over features. All too common in the early life of a business, an eager entrepreneur invests a massive amount of time and effort into selling their product or services based on the breadth of features they can offer (GlenWakemanVideo). While features are nice, customers don’t buy features, they buy benefits.
That distinction is a key part of the psychology of commerce. When we make a purchase we look for value. We’re turning money, that we worked hard to get, into some sort of product that will hopefully positively impact our lives.
Now, a savvy customer might hear of a feature and be able to connect it to the underlying benefit it provides. For instance, someone with a technical background might hear of the use of some advanced high-strength alloy in a new car body and understand that it will provide them with enhanced safety. Even though the feature (high-strength alloy) was the communicated message, they can understand that there’s an implicit benefit to them there (increased safety).
However, it’s rare for a potential customer to possess the expertise or volition to connect the dots from feature to benefit. This customer disconnect can be a sticking point for entrepreneurs, who so clearly understand the benefits of the features they provide. Take Glen Wakeman’s advice and don’t leave it up to your customers to determine what benefits can be derived from your company’s features. Just tell them the benefits, and watch your business thrive as a result.
What Comes Next
The second step in Glen Wakeman’s strategy toward thoughtful perseverance is the pursuit of disconfirming evidence. We all have closely held beliefs and preconceived notions about the things we do in life. However, repeatedly turning to the same, flawed thinking in business can send your company into a downward spiral that ends with its ultimate failure. A vital part of avoiding this fate is being critical of your own beliefs and looking for sources of information that disprove your preconceived notions.
That’s why Wakeman advocates that business owners seek out disconfirming evidence. Whether it’s a simple online search or a book that might not otherwise hold your interest, this type of discovery can yield many benefits, namely the question of why something counter to our beliefs might, in fact, be true. When we ask this “why”, we gain a deeper understanding of our area of expertise.
We may come away from this questioning with a new set of beliefs, or we may maintain our previously held notions. Either outcome is beneficial, as long as it is the result of a rigorous and honest questioning of our knowledge set. This type of questioning can be one of the most useful tools in an entrepreneur’s toolbox when seeking to repair an ailing business.
The Final Aspect
The final concept in Wakeman’s approach to thoughtful perseverance is the need to build a dispassionate support group. Let’s face it, running a business is hard and stressful work. Sometimes you need people around who will support you in your pursuit to realize your idea. Nobody can do it alone.
The key thing to consider when turning to a support group is that they be truthful with you about the areas in which they feel your business is lacking. Again this goes to the idea of preconceived notions. It feels good to be surrounded by people who agree with you and who think that whatever you’re doing is great. However, if the reality of the situation is that your business is floundering and changes need to be made, it’s better for everyone if the people who support you feel free to say so.
Wakeman’s suggestion is to avoid “Yes-men or yes-women” and opt instead to reward those around you for courageous and truthful criticism of your business practices. Yes, it may sting to hear that you are doing something less than optimally, but it is sure to sting a lot less than the ultimate failure that results from ignoring feedback.
Every business owner has seen their share of difficult times. These moments can test our resolve and truly strain the beliefs that drew us towards starting a business in the first place. However, as Wakeman stresses, the important thing in these situations is to not give up. Staying focused on the constructive efforts that can continue to improve your company is one of the clearest paths toward flourishing in the face of hardship. Use Glen Wakeman’s three steps to thoughtful perseverance as a jumping-off point in the pursuit of success. It’s likely you’ll find it closer than you previously thought.