I have a new theory on why some entrepreneurs make it big and why others never make it out of the gate. Entrepreneurs have big egos — it comes with the territory. However, having a big ego is only good for so much. In fact, when it comes to business, having a big ego can harm you rather than help you establish a name for yourself in the business community.
Running a business is a weird game: although you have to maintain an air of high self-worth, when you get down to it it's what everyone else thinks that really matters. You only have a business when you are selling a product or service that other people are purchasing. The saying: “the consumer is always right,” isn't quite right — but it does hold some meaning. At the end of the day a business caters to the wants and needs of just about everyone involved except the entrepreneur herself. Makes you wonder why anyone even bothers.
There's a reason why top CEOs have similar psychological compositions to that of sociopaths. Top CEOs understand the importance of getting into the minds of others in order to get what it is that they want. It's not so much a matter of manipulation as it is being able to empathize and understand the other side of things. Placing yourself in the other's shoes will allow you to better understand their point of view, what it is that they are looking for or hoping to achieve, and their reasons for acting certain ways.
Empathizing allows the entrepreneur to understand what motivates his consumer and gives him a glimpse into what the consumer really wants. I say really wants because most of the time the consumer has no clue as to what they really want.
Placing yourself inside the person's mind allows you not only to view the world from their perspective, but also allows you to use your own knowledge of the situation — knowledge that they do not have access to or simply overlook — to best serve the needs the persons have, regardless of whether or not they understand the solution they are looking for or if they even recognize that they have a problem to begin with.
Often at times one of the best marketing strategies is not only figuring out what the consumer needs, but going and helping him to realize that it is what he needs. Consumers may not realize that they have a problem, but you do and you want to make them privy to that knowledge. You'll see a lot of times the same strategy being applied to services of comfort or convenience.
You may not have realized how difficult it is walk to a restaurant and order in, but Seamless runs a campaign ad that makes you feel as if going out to dinner requires too much effort. You never before saw leaving your house as a chore, but now you feel like someone is asking you to do something that you no longer believe that you should have to do.
No one likes feeling like they're being forced to do anything. Show consumers that they are missing out on comfort and convenience and they will be convinced that they now have a problem. Convince them they're missing out on freedom and then go and sell them the freedom they've always had.
It's all about catering to those around you. Consumers don't care how great your product is unless they decide they have a need for it. Keeping the “needs” of your consumer in mind at all times is the only way to run a successful business. This, however, can prove to be difficult because most of us are under the illusion that the needs and wants that we have are the same as those of the general population. We believe ourselves to have impeccable taste; if we like it, so will everyone else.
The best approach is to assume that your consumers have awful taste. In fact, it's not actually awful — only different from your own. But that's simply the way it is. You can't take your wants, your needs, your likes and dislikes and then go and throw them on your customers. As the entrepreneur, you don't matter. The only purpose you have in the equation is figuring out what everyone else wants and then giving it to them in a form that allows for a sizable profit, making it all worth your trouble.
Every aspect of business revolves around the idea of catering to everyone else's needs before your own. Let's say that you are planning on pitching to a possible investor. The biggest mistake that most entrepreneurs make at least once in their careers is focusing on their product, their service, their company and their needs.
Think about it; how would it sound to you if someone approached you and said: “So, I have this idea. I have organized the company in this and this way. I project revenues of this and this amount for the next some-odd years. I need this amount of money to get things started. I, I, I, me, me, me. Where's your checkbook?” You may dress your words in pretty little dresses, but this is what the investors hears every time that you tell him about your needs. He doesn't care what you need unless your needs align in someway with his.
Instead of rambling on about your company, figure out what it is the investor needs. What kind of return does he want from his investments? In what timeframe? How active does he want to be in his investments? Ask as many questions about what the investor is looking for and how they picture things running.
Often at times you will decide that although you do need the start-up cash, the person you are pitching to is not the person you want investing in your company. If it turns out that they are what you are looking for, having asked them about all of their wants and needs, you'll be much more likely to get a signature out of them. They feel that their needs align with yours and you can start on a mutual, lucrative venture.
The most successful entrepreneurs know how to tame their egos. They understand the importance of keeping everyone happy and know how to achieve said happiness for their consumers, their partners or investors, and all their employees. The best employees are happy employees. You know what it is you need from them, but unless you know what they want from you you'll never have them working at their fullest potential and efficiency. When it comes down to it, every person in the world is egotistical to some extent—it's in our DNA.
We evolved having to outdo and outlive the competition. Our system of wants and needs helped us become the great animals that we are. Doing good business requires a keen understanding of this fact and the ability to use it to your advantage. The best entrepreneur helps herself by helping others. Everybody wins.