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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Six Surefire Ways to Fail in Business, Guaranteed!

Being Afraid, Very Afraid

We broke a record. The Two Cowboys published more than 400 video features of small businesses and communities since our inception in January 2016. Our non-branded content alone included a further 437 productions we did for our partners and for various Business Excellence Awards.

For a total of around 837 productions, we've met, interviewed and filmed more than 3,000 people in three years! We did it in Canada, USA, Mexico, New Zealand and in South Africa. We also added France and Italy to our travels in 2018. How's that for being busy?

In three short years, we've seen and heard more about businesses than most people do in a lifetime. We thought we knew a lot after University, 25 years of management consulting and years in television production. Instead, we learned a lot more from these business owners in a very short time that we ever imagined. We now also know a lot more about them.

Some of the businesses we met were, and still are, wildly successful. Unfortunately, the majority were not, and probably never will be. We came to the realization, when we looked through the lenses of our cameras (cameras rarely lie) and listened to the conversations we recorded, that the majority of those that are not successful face a single, but a major stumbling block. It doesn't matter where the business is. They all have one infliction.

They have a confidence problem! Because they lack confidence, they fear and some even avoid being successful. Entrepreneurs and business owners lack confidence because they have no idea what is supposed to make them succeed in the first place.

To illustrate the point. Here is a statement from one ignorant, cocky, small, hot sauce business owner, somewhere in the woods of Vancouver Island. "We'll contact you if we ever consider paying for publicity!" Our reply, "Please don't. We'd rather be contacted by someone that understands that publicity is what makes businesses and brands, even commodity hot sauce brands like yours, succeed. It makes businesses go national and global. Heaven forbid that someone actually finds out about your sauce. You may just be forced to deal with success!"

The point is that even if you don't have an interest in the Two Cowboys telling your story, a business owner should grab every opportunity possible to promote and get positive publicity for their product and brand. There are many things you can do to grow your enterprise. The most simple is to simply get out of the way of your success.

Simple Business 101

There are countless sources of entrepreneurial advice available in books and online. You don't have to do an MBA. It is all available by tapping a screen and clicking a button. Every second "consultant" and "authoritative" online page carries the keys to the castle. They can give you the 8 steps to entrepreneurial success, 5 ways to make a million, 7 keys to marketing success, or 10 ways to a six-figure income with your laptop on the beach. Don't forget email marketing and there is an app for that! I don't have to point out that most of this advice come from snake oil salesmen, nobodies and wannabes.

Instead of listing another 5, 8 or even a 100 ways to make it in business, I thought of highlighting the five surefire ways we've gleaned through our observation and experience of how to assure failure. Avoid these mistakes and you are likely to stumble upon the right things to do, by accident. Business is not supposed to be hard. It is not something you have to go and do under duress.

What you do in your business should be natural and align with who you are. If it fits, it is bound to have spontaneous progression and evolution.

Before we court disaster, here is a simple formula we've distilled for a successful maker business:

  • Make something of value for yourself. (Product Development, R&D, Tooling, Materials, Prototyping, Testing, Validation, Manufacturing) 
  • Find people that value it too. Share it with them. (Positioning, Promotion, Market Validation)
  • Make more, and share it more often and with more people. They become your loyal customers. (Logistics, Supply Chain, Distribution, Labour, Packaging, Customer Relationship Management, Customer Support, Marketing, Promotion, Publicity, Selling, Fulfillment, After Sale Support, Quality Control, Billing)
  • Exchange it for the amount of value it adds to your customers' lives. (Pricing)
  • If your customers value what you make more than it cost you to make it, then you have a business. (Profit)
  • Have fun and learn how to get better at it every day! (Evolve and Expand)
  • If it doesn't work, make something else.

The same applies to a service business. It is even simpler.

  • Do something you value for yourself. (Tools, Expertise, Skill, Knowledge, Effort, Time)
  • Find people that value what you do. Do it for them too. (Positioning, Promotion, Validation) 
  • Do it often and find more people to do it for. They become your loyal customers. (Customer Relationship Management, Publicity, Marketing, Sales, Service, Billing, Delivery) 
  • Exchange it for the amount of value it adds to your customers' lives. (Pricing) 
  • If your customers value what you do more than it cost you to do it, then you have a business. (Profit)
  • Have fun and learn how to get better at what you do. Do it every day! (Evolve and Grow)
  • If it doesn't work, do something else.

Let us Fail

Here are some surefire ways to fail in business.

  • WASTE TIME: Procrastinate. Try to please others with a product or service you don't care for and that you don't really value. Do meaningless work that keeps you busy and pays the bills. The outcome will at best be mediocre and you are likely to hate every minute you are involved with it. Waste as much time as possible by delaying decisions. Go to the toilet often. Check your social media. Have meetings after meeting with your team. Collect your salary. Go on vacation. Have a hobby. The more you waste time, the less you will have to actually do.
  • SHUN CONTACT: Heaven forbid that people should actually make contact with you about your product or service. Avoid customer contact at all cost. Don't answer your phone. Don't return messages or that email. Don't listen to people. Don't appear on your shop floor and don't interact with your staff. Please don't answer questions or entertain proposals. Make sure your website doesn't have an address, phone number or email address. If you are really serious about shunning contact then get yourself a receptionist, a call centre in India, a personal assistant, PR Firm, appoint a marketing person, and get a social media handler. They will make sure no one can get hold of you. Be very important. Have many titles. Customers won't buy from you and suppliers won't be able to offer you any help. If you cannot be reached, then people won't want something from you.
  • AVOID EXPOSURE: Keep yourself a mystery. Hide! Avoid publicity. Don't have a proper website, or don't have one at all. Tell as little as possible about your product or service. Consider social media evil. Don't go near it. Never have a page on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Don't do any marketing or promotions. Avoid all forms of advertising. Remove your business listing from Google and maps. Take your shop's sign down. Don't put your business name on your vehicle. Throw away your business cards. Avoid telling your customers how to use your products and the benefits of your service. Remember, the less exposure you have the more likely no one will bother you.
  • SKIRT FEEDBACK: Customer reviews are evil. Don't encourage reviews. Take down your Google reviews and disable your Facebook feedback button. Don't ask customers what you can do to make their product or experience better. If they do offer feedback deride them. Make them feel insignificant. Be a victim. Don't respond. You won't have to learn and adjust your product or service and won't meet your customers' expectations. If you skirt feedback then the truth won't hurt you. 
  • AVOID SUCCESS: If you are unsuccessful you will have plenty to complain about. You won't make a difference in people's lives. If you avoid success, people won't care. If you are successful more people will want something from you and bother you often. With success, you may turn a profit and will have to pay more taxes and employ more people. By avoiding success you can have your predictable life. You won't be faced with challenges. You can blame your circumstances and your failure on someone and something else. 

The Two Cowboys

Our business is a simple business. 

We love researching, investigating, learning, meeting interesting people, filming and telling stories about the things and places that interest us. The things we value is good food, inspiring people, innovative products and businesses, great beer, and the freedom to travel and work all over the world. We tell these stories in the best way we can through video, photography and writing in our Blog. We feel the world needs more fun and inspiration. We hope to give that to our audience.

Our audience enjoys watching our programming and armchair travelling with us. Our programming is insightful, informative and entertaining. The people, businesses and places we feature garner publicity through our content. They win over new customers. More people learn about them and is likely to deal or visit them. It becomes a channel with much-needed positive exposure for their brands.

We are constantly looking for new stories and bigger partners to feature. We produce as much content as we can and feature as many people, businesses and places as is willing to engage us. We package our content around topics and themes. One theme we love to exploit is a maker theme where we feature people that create and make products. We have several food and cooking themes. We have a travel and camping theme. Overall, the Two Cowboys is an entertaining lifestyle content brand that we live every day and where we invite others to join us on our journey.

Our pricing models make it possible for the smallest business to afford to be featured by the Cowboys and for some of the largest partners to have constant access to fresh and informative highly professionally produced promotional content. At the same time, our audience can access our materials online for free so that we can reach the broadest audience possible.

Our business and our brand keeps growing even in the most difficult economic times in Canada's recent memory. Where businesses realize the power of our promotional capabilities they engage us often and with great success. We love what we do and don't want to do anything else.

Thank you for helping us succeed in our endeavour to show the world that it is a better place.

Hendrik van Wyk
Business Cowboy

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