Quit Being an April Fool

My wife, being the bright kindergarten teacher that she is, came out to the breakfast table this morning and asked myself and the girls if we would like to eat brownies she baked late last night.

Excited for brownies at 6:45 am we removed the tin foil to find a tray of cut-out construction paper brown Es!

The kids thought this was pretty funny amidst the disappointment of not having brownies for breakfast.

Do you remember the heyday of the 90s .com bubble?

Back in those days, companies were raising billions of dollars by adding a .com to their name and saying that the new economy didn't require them to be monetarily successful, because somehow Internet magic would save them.

What fools.

Do you remember the heyday of the 2016 cryptocurrency bubble?

Companies were raising billions of dollars on "Initial Token Offerings," and claiming that their fake money was going to overthrow the monetary systems of every country on earth, and individual geeks were selling bitcoin they'd bought at $.01 for almost $20,000. Plenty of people scrambled to get their hard earned cash in at $15,000 on the way down.

What fools.

I could, of course, go on and on–there have been more ridiculous bubbles than is practical to count, and it's certain that there will be more.

One of the things that characterize them is that very few people are prepared for the downturn.

You know the old saying: “Everybody's a genius in a bull market.”

Many of the companies that I talk to are falling into a similar trap.

They say things like, "We've had ten years of steady growth!" as if it's an achievement of theirs, rather than just a reflection of the fact that they were doing business in the strongest bull market in history.

What they don't have is an understanding of how to differentiate themselves from their competitors, or even in many cases an understanding of the real value they bring to their clients.

You know the ones I'm talking about.

They still have the mission statement that was pulled out of the "Generic Mission Statement" generator, and could be as easily used for their competitors (and even for companies in entirely different industries).

They're the ones that have no processes in place; no succession plans to cover the eventuality that key people leave, the ones that assume that because they've been around for 20 years, they'll be around in another 20.

I’ve had numerous discussions with big companies, some more than $500M in annual revenues who tell me they’re following the Tuesday Tidbits and they’ve got their processes in check. They’re actively asking for referrals. They’re following their post-purchase process. And they’re now using a CRM and making significant progress.

When I dig deeper, they say something like, “Well actually we’re just using Excel right now.” And “We’re pretty confident, our business development people are meeting our expectations.”

When I dig deeper still and talk to the people who are supposed to be using these processes, I find out that nobody knows what the processes are. They’re certainly not being coached or trained with these processes in mind.

Nobody notices when the process isn’t followed.

The confidence they have is built on the same foundations as the hopes for the original dot.com bubble, or the crypto-craze… It’s all castles in the air.

It’s a bit like the “Brown Es” I had for breakfast this morning. At first, I was excited, and then I couldn’t help but laugh alongside my kids.

Except we can bake brownies and we’ll likely do it tonight now that the kids are thinking about it.

And we can fix your processes and refine your efforts to truly achieve maximum results. Ten years of steady growth is excellent, but we all know that what got you here won’t get you there.

Who’s fooling who?

Your Challenge For This Week: What do you attribute your success to over the past ten years? If you have competitors with similar achievements, what do you attribute their success to? Are you really as different as you think? Are you really as good as you think?

Most importantly:

What will you do in the next downturn? Are you confident that you will succeed while your competitors fail?