The Cure for Losing Your Entrepreneurial Voice

the shopping cart before the horse

The Shopping Cart Before the Horse- Part II

I have a new product idea. (Of course. I am an Entrepreneur!) If only I could make this product, I am sure I would be independently wealthy overnight. (Of course. I am an Entrepreneur!) It would solve a real problem–a problem that I have seen at least once each week for the last 26 years. (If any of you venture-capitalist-types are reading this, please stay tuned for a hot new business idea.)

Case in point: an entrepreneur steps into my office in need of some graphics and print material for a pressing project. A sales opportunity has just come up and has taken them by surprise. They need a brochure, or a sales sheet, or perhaps a new trade show display. But they need something quick. They are in such a hurry that they need to make this meeting brief so they can get on to the next fire.

“What I need is something really simple. You know what I mean! A big picture here, and a swooshy thing over there”, they say, waving their hands, trying to make the swooshy thing. At that very moment, they are convinced the images in their imagination are synced with those in my imagination. “And we need some sort of slogan, big, here across the top. You know, like that!”

Nope––I do not!

“Ok”, I reply. “I am so happy to help you out. Maybe we can use some of those photos from your last trade show. I know you had a pro-photographer on site then. So, tell me, what would you like this piece to say? What sort of slogan do you think you need?”

Deer in the headlights. Pause. Followed by stuttering, incomprehensible noises, and another uncomfortable pause.

Finally he says, “You know, I don’t know. What would you recommend for an opportunity like this?”

A thought bubble appears above my head, “What would I recommend for an opportunity like this? You mean you do not know what you need to say about your own product?”

Of course, I do not say this outloud. I am only thinking it to myself. True confessions. I have been there–in that same place–and I am in marketing. (Paper-sack-over-head-with-two-holes-cut-for-my-eyes-blink-blink.) But think about this. If you, the business owner, do not know what to say about your own product, how will anyone else know what to say, when they know less about your product than you do?

Sure I can make your materials look great. That is easy for me, and it is my job. But no matter how beautiful the design, without a strategy, your materials will net you zip zero nada nothing. If you think advertising is expensive? Try advertising that does not work! If you left my office right now, threw several hundred dollars out of the window on your way back to your office, flaked off all responsibilities and took your spouse out for a fancy dinner, that would be less expensive than buying a brochure that yields no results.

So back to my product idea. Venture capitalists? I need you to help me fund some research to create The Cure. I need a pill. A potion. Some sort of patch. It is important to cure one of the leading causes of demise in small business:

Entrepreneurial Speechlessness.

I so wish a pill could fix this. But in all reality, I know that speechlessness is only symptomatic of a deeper issue.

So what is the underlying cause of this condition? Let’s look at a few reasons:

  • You are chasing sales–not solving a problem.
  • If there is a problem that your product can solve, you are not sure what that problem is.
  • If you are not sure what the problem is, you cannot identify anyone who has the problem (in other words, anyone who could use your product).
  • And without knowing what the problem is, you cannot be confident that your product is the best solution.
  • And without confidence, you will never sell anything.

Do you have symptoms of Entrepreneurial Speechlessness? It is the result of placing Advertising before Strategy, or putting the shopping cart before the horse. Get back to the bedrock issues of Purpose, Vision, and Mission.

Until you are a believer in your own product, you will remain speechless.

I want to help remove the lack of clarity that is stealing your voice. Make sure your product is not just a product of your imagination. Make sure it is something that will change the world, and become a believer. Remove every trace of doubt in your mind, and you will have plenty to say. You will not be able to stop talking about it if you try.

Stay tuned for Part III of The Shopping Cart Before the Horse, next week!

“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” the Beatles