There’s a reason why we have clichéd sayings in business.  They work and stand the test of time.  “Jack of all trades, master of none.”  While we all strive to be omnipotent and present in our entrepreneurship, trying to serve everyone at the same time is a bad idea for business. Especially if you’re just beginning your startup journey, there’s a tendency to work insane hours and push your capabilities to their limit.  In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the potential pitfalls for new and established businesses when they try to please everyone.

Your competition’s awareness

This may come as a surprise, but just as we’ve described before on judging the competition and exploiting their weaknesses, don’t believe that the competition is not giving the same treatment to your business!

Spreading yourself too thin can leave others that specialise in one of your products or services to steal your business.  This is because they have the ability to focus entirely on solving a specific problem; therefore, they can do it better than your business.  In essence, you are creating a better competitor with a clear strategy for victory, handicapping your efforts in the future AND creating more problems.  Heck, if you want to think about it, your overreaching ambitions can be your biggest competition. 

The solution lies in narrowing your focus.  The famed aviator and author of Le Petit Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry sums it all very nicely in his quote:

“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”

Take this mindset to heart and see where you may be extending beyond your current capabilities.  Allow yourself the ability to put things on the backburner for the time being and focus on the core functionality of your business model.  The truth is that you may not even need those extraneous facets of your business when things are actually running smoothly.

Neglecting Your Customers

Without customers, there is no business.  This should seem so obvious that it is a non-issue, but it certainly bears repeating.  Focusing on too much at once means that your products and services will lack the attention to detail that customers require.  Don’t believe that dissatisfied customers won’t go to more accommodating avenues if you don’t spend the appropriate time on this essential fact.

A great real world example is how, back in the mid-2000’s, the reigning social media giant Myspace was swiftly ousted by Facebook, the leaner and more user-friendly version of what people really wanted when it came to social media.  Myspace fell victim to extending their business model into books, music, and other media,( when the most important and pernicious issue that dogged their business was that there was a lack of accountability (read: scammers and spammers) that obfuscated what they were trying to do in first place.

Making sure your customers are completely satisfied, though time-consuming, is an invaluable way to learn the specific needs of what they really need, not what you imagine their concerns may be (remember to look for the positive in the feedback).  Take an assessment in ways in which your business falls short from their feedback—is there a kernel of truth to what they’re saying?  Are there common themes that crop up?  Address these first before adding features that only complicate your business.

Think outside of the box, consider your customers as part of your workforce—they’re unpaid business consultants!  Take their feedback seriously, as though you were being charged exorbitant rates per hour.  You’ll find this shift in thinking recasting how your view the symbiotic business-client relationship.

The Dangers of Going Beyond “Good Enough”

It’s hard not to meet an entrepreneur that fits the description of an overachiever.  Perhaps this is why you have gone into business in the first place.  Going the distance and then some may win the hearts and minds of potential customers, but you may end up being more exhausted and you ultimately stagnate when the rewards don’t match your herculean effort.

Work smart, not hard.  Customers are generally interested in solving a specific problems that occur in their lives.  Your business should be THAT solution, not all solutions. Extra additional features might not seem so attractive to someone who doesn’t need them; they even may make your product or service seem vague and profligate, and therefore insufficient.  No one likes to see webpages that constantly read “Under Construction” or that are perpetually “Coming Soon!”  these messages cast doubt on your business being ready for the market.

Instead, if you’re focusing on getting business, establishing the bare minimums  can be a time- and cost-effective strategy that can conserve your resources.

The takeaway from this article is essentially to do more with less.  In closing, remember a resonant quote from Aesop’s Fables that should guide your business towards greater efficiency, whether it is the scope of your business model or the demands of your customers:

“In trying to please all, he had pleased none.”


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