Starting a business is hard. In fact, many experts estimate that around eight out of ten businesses fail within their first eighteen months. For a business struggling at its outset, failure can sometimes seem practically certain. But it’s not. Even in the darkest of times, a dedicated captain can right their company’s ship and send it sailing into smoother waters. The trick is finding a strategy to refocus an ailing business that actually works. That’s where Glen Wakeman comes in. Read on to learn more about Wakeman’s three steps to thoughtful perseverance, and how they can be used to save your business.
Wakeman is the co-founder and CEO of LaunchPad Holdings, LLC. LaunchPad is a SaaS firm that works to increase the success-rates of entrepreneurs by providing online business planning services. With over twenty years of business experience, Wakeman mentors several C-level executives and also acts as an advisor at various start-ups. He has a particular focus on growth, innovation, and executive development.
Wakeman’s also no stranger to the trials and tribulations of starting a business. In a recent video on his website, GlenWakeman.com, Wakeman talks about some of the learning experiences he’s encountered while working with the many companies with which he’s been associated. It’s these experiences in particular that have led to the formulation of Wakeman’s roadmap for entrepreneurs seeking to improve the results of their companies. With the knowledge that sometimes just carrying on is the most important thing we can do, Wakeman developed his three steps to thoughtful perseverance to offer a guide to weathering difficult times.
The first step in Wakeman’s guide is to focus on benefits, not features. At its foundation, every business is trying to provide a solution to a problem. These solutions, or benefits, are the core of the value that an entrepreneur can offer to their prospective clients. When people can clearly see the value that a business is offering them, they are more likely to transform from prospective customers into paying customers.
However, many business owners, especially those involved in a newly created startup, tend to fall in love with the features they can offer a customer and will emphasize those features above all else. The problem is that while the entrepreneur may be aware of the connection between features and benefits, the customer may not.
This problem is as common as it is understandable. Entrepreneurs often spend months or even years developing the features associated with their business or product. When it comes time to sell the product or pitch the services they have developed, the instinct of many business owners is to emphasize all of their hard work. But, as Glen Wakeman points out in his recent video detailing this strategy, customers don’t really care about how much work an entrepreneur may have put into their features. They care about the value those features can offer them.
So, when presenting products or services to a potential customer, it’s important to display benefits over features first and foremost. If the emphasis on benefits isn’t driving sales, then it may be necessary to adjust the product or services themselves. This leads us to Wakeman’s second step of thoughtful perseverance, seeking disconfirming evidence.
When we have an opinion about something, it’s usually pretty easy to find evidence in support of what we already think. While this type of confirmation bias can feel good, it can actually blind us to more efficient or effective solutions to the problems we are facing.
That’s why Wakeman recommends seeking disconfirming evidence when a business is underperforming. Business owners who look for data that is inconsistent with what they’re expecting to find are then faced with a question of why that information differs from their own thoughts. Exploring that “why” can open a host of possible areas for improvement in the business itself, be it adjusting pricing, timing, or product presentation.
While this approach may seem counterintuitive, it’s important to seek out facts and opinions that contradict one’s own beliefs. This is especially true if a business is struggling since it shows that most probably some aspect of the foundation upon which the business is built is amiss. When detailing this section of his strategy, Wakeman makes a special point of acknowledging that answers usually don’t come from things with which we already agree. Instead, answers come from identifying things of which we are unaware.
This leads us to the final step in Wakeman’s three-part strategy, building a dispassionate support group. This step is rooted in the overarching idea that starting one’s own business is difficult. It is a process fraught with tribulations and can often fatigue entrepreneurs to the extent that they no longer wish to pursue their idea. That’s why it’s important for business owners to surround themselves with people who care about their wellbeing and want to support them in achieving their goals. Without that support, it’s difficult to find the drive to carry on.
However, it’s important that the support that a business owner receives is couched in a healthy level of disagreement and criticism (GlenWakemanWikiData). A support structure that merely agrees with everything one says is just as unhelpful as nurturing a confirmation bias in the pursuit of fact-finding. It’s important that the people who support a growing business have the courage and dedication to oppose decisions that they feel are not in the best interest of the company.
It is through this level of opposition that an entrepreneur can find epiphanies about the work they are doing. Those epiphanies bring with them a deeper level of understanding that was previously held and allow a business owner to truthfully identify weakness within their business model.
While successfully creating and running a business is difficult and can be disheartening at times, one of the most important paths to success is sticking with an idea and seeing it through the difficulties and growing pains that await any startup. Following Glen Wakeman’s three-step process to thoughtful perseverance is a great strategy for any entrepreneur who finds themselves dissatisfied with some aspect of their business. Consider implementing this strategy into your own business practices to see the effect it can have on the success of your company.