Most of us get into a business that allows us to help people in the way we know we can — to help them lose weight, get their finances in order, find a romantic partner, whatever.
Oddly, some of us also make it our business to publicly berate other entrepreneurs for how they run their business, thinking we can out-game them by airing out their dirty laundry (and I get that this article may be just as guilty!). Few choice examples out of hundreds:
And yet, the only things to show for all this bitterness are high-fives and snickering from peers who, ironically, don’t pay the bills.
Because guess what? Those same entrepreneurs who people love to pooh-pooh are still carrying on and likely getting bigger and more engagement (much to our chagrin).
I see this committed most egregiously in the fitness industry, where many fitness professionals seem to spend more time bemoaning people like Dr. Oz and Food Babe for shilling for money-wasting magical elixirs than working on their businesses. I agree that it sucks they abuse their platform to dish out shoddy and sometimes dangerous advice.
But in the end, people like them still schlep it home with millions of dollars and positive fanfare because they’re remembering to cater to the people who matter:
The people who THEY want to “help.”
Whether those customers are complete suckers is not the point. The point is that you’re not persuading anyone — other than the people who already agree — by being holier-than-thou. And these efforts, paradoxically, don’t necessarily dampen their impact. If anything, the more attention they get — good or bad, from you or someone else — the bigger they potentially get.
Maybe being snarky makes you feel better, but it doesn’t help you with your goals. Because your customers don’t care about snark or logical loopholes.
What your customers care about is how you are using your skills, knowledge, and resources to help solve their problem. That’s it. They only care to know the best way to fit in their jeans. They only want to know how to stop stumbling so badly on the first date and to clinch a second. They want to know the best way to save for retirement.
I’m reminded of Alec Baldwin’s famous “always be closing” scene from the movie “Glengarry Glen Ross”:
In it, he yells at a guy: “Nice guy? I don’t give a shit. Good father? F*ck you! Go home and play with your kids. If you want to work here, close.”
Seems unnecessarily harsh and binary, but it’s a brutal allegory of what the world — your customers — expect of you. People give a hoot about how you can help them and what you can offer them. They couldn’t bat an eyelid at the fact that YOU hate how Entrepreneur X is a sleazy huckster, and that compared to him, you’re a nice person who can cook a really mean steak.
Think of the most successful entrepreneurs you know: do they spend more time commenting on “the industry” or serving customers?
You may think there’s an “us versus them,” but to the customer, that dichotomy and entire conversation don’t exist. While you engage in inside baseball and spiral down esoteric arguments with your peers, your customers don’t live in the same world you do.
So when you do something, do it for your CUSTOMERS, not for other entrepreneurs or anyone in your peer group.
If that means you want to be an entrepreneur who won’t stoop to tactics like renting half a dozen Lamborghinis to signal “success” to viewers, OK, cool.
Then put your head down and do you, boo.