When venturing into business, many have assumptions about what entails business success and what entails business failure. But as you venture further, you learn that nothing is as it seems from a logical perspective. In fact, business and entrepreneurship are scattered with various oxymorons that you can only really learn from experience.
While these oxymorons may sound backwards, that is their nature! By understanding these business oxymorons from the get-go, you can avoid potential pitfalls that seemed “logical” at the time. Learning from others in business is always a great way to get ahead. Here’s an example: One of my favorite quotes from an entrepreneur along these lines is by Sophia Amoruso, the author of GIRLBOSS and the former founder of fashion company NastyGal. She says, “Compete with yourself, not with others.” In business, we often think of businesses within our sector as our competition - but if we compete with ourselves and always strive to have the best possible business or be the best possible version of ourselves. Here are some other less intuitive pieces of advice that business owners swear by.
1. Offering Less Helps You To Offer More
We get it: you want to be the very best at what you do and give your customers an all-star experience. But sometimes, by featuring far too many offerings and services, you sabotage yourself and your business. Here’s why: people have more choices than ever when hiring or buying from a business. What will make you stand out isn’t that you can do everything — it’s that you can do one thing really, really well. Focus on just that one thing, and business will come. There’s no need for all the additional bells and whistles.
Dean Aguilar, the CEO of digital marketing agency The Digital Muse, shared with me that one of his company’s biggest obstacles was identifying a clear offering. “In the beginning, we felt as if we needed to give so much value in our offering that we did not realize that we were cutting ourselves short,” he said. “Our clients were very happy paying the same amount for half of what we were giving. We made this adjustment very quickly, and no impact was had with retention.” This also helps to scale. If you can give great value by being the best at something without overcommitting, you and your business have more bandwidth to serve even more clients.
2. Higher Prices Can Result In More Sales
We often think that what gives us a competitive advantage is in the price of what we sell. If we can beat our competitors by offering a lower price, why shouldn’t customers choose us, right? Well… wrong, sometimes. In fact, pricing less than what you should may cause your customers to undervalue what it is that you have to offer. Writer Dorie Clark shared in a Harvard Business Review article a story from author Kevin Kruse. He had been in talks with a potential speaker for an event he was hosting, and this potential speaker had an Ivy League doctorate degree, a heavy media presence, and was a New York Times bestselling author. The budget to bring in this speaker was $30,000, but the speaker quoted his speaking fee at $3,000… a fraction of what they had expected when they asked. Kruse noted that this actually made him second guess the quality of this individual, simply because of what he quoted.
Of course, this story doesn’t mean you should be outrageous with your price quote, but find a fair market value and ask for what you’re worth — whether it’s a retail price for your product or a price for coaching or consulting with you. How you price yourself sets the bar for how others can judge your level of quality. It’s not always a deterrent.
3. People Don’t Buy Based On Logic
We also may think logically that if a business has a clear value proposition, there’s no reason customers won’t buy. We think that we logically talk ourselves into purchases. However, emotion is at play more than we think. Recent research suggests that we actually buy based on emotion, then mentally justify our already-decided emotional decision with logic. So, the question becomes, how can you appeal to a prospect emotionally?
Books like People Buy From People by Beth Standlee get to the heart of how to effectively emotionally resonate with a prospective buyer — and a meaningful connection and conversation may be a surefire way there. While we think people buy because of the features and benefits of a product, it’s much deeper than that. The sooner we know this and implement ways to address it, the better.
These oxymorons get to the heart of what business really is: based on human connection, perception, and emotion, that sometimes circumvents logic entirely.
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