The classic novel by Robert Louis Stevenson tells the story of one man's struggle with his duel personalities - Dr Jekyll, the kind and respected physician, and the violent Mr Hyde.
But if you think living as two separate people is hard, spare a thought for the one-person entrepreneur. To survive and succeed in the business world as a solo enterprise we need to develop not just two, but a multitude of alter-egos.
We have to be the company accountant, marketer, operations manager, chief executive officer, customer service manager and general gofer. We have jump from balancing the books, to stuffing envelopes, from formulating our strategic direction from an overall market perspective to handling our customers.
Most of those roles are skill based. To master them you do a course, read a book, and/or get the appropriate tools or software to handle the task. You could even employ someone to do them for you, if money was no object.
However, there is one alter-ego that is all to easily missed, but arguably is the most important of all.
You see, even though the above roles that you must adopt are very different, they all have one thing in common - they are all roles WITHIN your business.
This critical role is OUTSIDE your business.
If you really want to succeed, you must also take the time and effort to BE your customer. To mentally step out of your business and imagine you ARE a potential customer. To look at your business with fresh, objective eyes, as if you were a new customer seeing it for the first time.
What would this person see?
Look at your product, service, business and marketing through their eyes, not yours. Don't be fooled, this is not as easy as it sounds. Because we have intimate knowledge, emotional attachment and have invested so much time and effort it is all to easy get caught in only seeing your business in one way - OUR OWN! A new customers will be looking at everything you do with virgin eyes.
What would your advertising, branding, all that you communicate about your products, services, and business say this person?
Assume that they have no prior knowledge of your business and what you do. Your company's name is nothing more than a meaningless label to them. Your service or product a mystery. (A mystery, that quite frankly, your customer will not care to decipher. That is not their job, but yours, to make it crystal clear.)
Does your message inspire confidence and trust? Is it understandable to an outsider? Is it offering what they want?
All this may appear to be stating the obvious, but doing it properly is a lot more difficult than understanding the concept. It requires an emotional shift, putting aside what you WANT and seeing what IS.
Recently I had direct experience of this difficulty in getting out my head and into my potential customers.
I asked a couple of friends give me their feedback of a software program I had written. While reading one lengthy response from a good friend, a strong sense of frustration grew inside me. I started to get annoyed at what I thought were his 'stupid' comments.
"What was wrong with HIM? It is obvious what that section is for!"
My first reaction was to emailing him, explaining HIS errors, and point out where he was going wrong.
Halfway through writing that email I stop myself. I suddenly realized how defensive I was being. The reason I had asked him to review the demo was to uncover any weak areas that required further work. And here I was taking his honest feedback personally. I remembered that it was the first time he had seen the software, whereas I knew it inside and out, and back to front. Suddenly, his 'stupid' comments became a rich source of improvements that I was thankful for.
It is important that you make the time to take a big step back from your enterprise. Forget that it is your little baby that you have spent hours, days, months or years working on. Look at it afresh with new eyes and a calm emotion-free detachment, as if it were someone else's project and you are seeing it for the first time.
Once you can see your business through your customers' eyes, it will become clear which improvements, changes and alterations will boost the success of your business.
About The Author
Lee Kendall is the owner and creator of Key Comments.
Software to help you discover what your customers really want.