Are you a creative person with bold vision? Or an analytic type, happy to pour over numbers in search of ways to generate greater profits?
If you own a business, you likely lean towards one end of the spectrum or the other. Rare is the entrepreneur who is as good with the creative aspects of marketing as she is with accounting and finance.
But businesses need both to thrive — especially if growth is a goal. Unfortunately, many business people start out focused on what they love while paying too little attention to the aspects of the business that are of less interest (but equal importance).
A few months ago, a client came to me with an idea for a textile business. Her hand-crafted throw pillows and blankets were stunning and well-made; you could imagine them on the shelves of exclusive home goods stores. But when we started discussing pricing, it became clear that she enjoyed the creative part so much that she forgot to factor in the cost of materials or the time she spent on each piece.
At the rate she was going, she would be in the hole from the outset.
“After I timed myself and added in the cost of the materials, I realized I had sharply underpriced my products,” said Astrid Lewis, founder of Sugar Weather Textile. “The math forced me to decide what type of market I was going after and where and how to position myself.”
I have also often heard the opposite story — businesspeople who are great at finding ways to increase their margins but lack interest in branding.
For example, Lila, the owner of a food delivery business, called me complaining that she hated marketing. After plunking down $2,000 for a marketing course, she finally came to terms with the fact that no matter how much she spent, she was not going to do the work.
Being honest with oneself is important. The reality, though, is that honesty is not enough. Both sides of a business need to be tended in order to grow. Without marketing, Lila’s business could not reach its potential any more than Astrid’s could grow without the right pricing structure.
Fortunately, business owners have options to compensate for their weaknesses.