I am a student of business, and am fascinated with what types of things set great businesses apart from good businesses. My interest in solid business practices manifests itself through consistent reading and study of great publications like Forbes, Fast Company, Inc, and our local business journal. One of the common themes of discussion I often see in many of the top business publications is the topic of “why businesses fail.” These publications are often littered with obligatory lists that are titled in ways such as, “The Top 5 Reasons Businesses Fail,” or “Why Your Organization is Failing: 7 Reasons.” These lists typically reveal a standard ranking of items, such as not having a business plan, cash flow issues, lack of planning, under capitalization, or leadership challenges.
You will notice that most of the time, these reasons center on standard business issues that have nothing to do with marketing, sales or advertising. While these standard reasons for failure are indeed a major component of the demise of many businesses, I find it very hard to believe that the majority of businesses can’t fix these issues no matter how hard they try. Now let’s stop here because I realize what I’m saying is indeed a bit sacrilegious, and I don’t want to gloss over the fact that these are real issues. However, the Internet is ripe with great advice on how to easily manage these struggles. There are a myriad of easily accessible resources available to help you write an effective business plan, or manage your cash flow more effectively. Solutions are presented and hammered home constantly by the best business minds, but the same problems still prevail. Why is this? Most of the time, these failure points are identified through objective surveys and industry research that are very reliable. So is the data wrong? I personally don’t believe it is.
I believe that many business owners literally don’t know what they don’t know and fall back on answers that are more of a result of the problem, and not the actual pain point. Quite frankly I also think many experts need a scapegoat for failure, and those issues are very low-hanging fruit. So since I’m making an attempt to challenge the conventional industry wisdom here, I’d like to submit my thoughts on one of the biggest issues facing organizations today…LACK OF SALES. Now I know you might be saying “duh,” and laughing as you read this, so more directly, lack of sales as a result of not knowing your target market. When you don’t know and/or truly understand your target audience you are flying blind. You miss opportunities to truly build and scale your brand. You can put tons of effort into your marketing and still not have impact. To understand your target market, you have to do a little research, and put some real effort in. If you do it correctly, the results will inform all your marketing efforts and give solid direction to your execution. If you’re curious about how to actually get to know your target market, check out this great post “Which Persona Is your Real Driver” by our COO Jesse Marble.