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David FullerEmily hit the golf ball and started running. Swinging her club mid-stride, she repeatedly hit the ball and kept sprinting toward the first hole.

Our yelling and laughter confused her and finally she stopped.

“What are you yelling about?” she turned to us defiantly. “You told me that the goal was to get the golf ball into the hole!”

Emily’s understanding of the game was that the first one to get their ball into the hole was the winner. The competitive nature of her Grade 7 brain decided that golf was a race and not a game.

Unfortunately, many small business owners are unsure of the rules and goals of the game of business.

When we start a business, we often think the goal is to make the most sales possible in the shortest period. While sales are essentially important in business, if we sell the wrong product to the wrong person, make sales that aren’t profitable, or end up selling a product or service that isn’t reliable or that we can’t fulfil our promises on, our business isn’t going to be around long.

Recently I received a testimonial from a business owner saying that while working with me their sales dropped by $200,000 but their profits doubled.

Hopefully you get the point: one rule of business is that we need revenue, but the right type of customers and buying the right product at the right time is critical. Failure to understand this can result in disappointment.

Another rule that often isn’t considered is that of cause and effect. We think because we have a business offering products or services, customers will flock to us.

In reality, 50 per cent of businesses go broke within three years because they don’t understand the rule of cause and effect. Everything we do in business has an effect. If we want customers to buy from us we have to do something. That something is called effective marketing. In marketing and sales, we need to do three things:

  • capture our ideal client’s attention;
  • give them a reason to believe in us;
  • give them a call to action.

The purpose of marketing is to attract customers and the purpose of sales is to sell our product or services to those prospective customers attracted by our marketing. The rule of cause and effect states that failure to establish the necessary marketing research and resources will have an undesirable effect.

Sales is another area where many business owners don’t know the rules. They fail to put in the effort to have a sales model and adequate training, and then can’t understand why they don’t have the sales they need.

Often there are unspoken rules in smaller communities where business owners operate. If a business owner is too outspoken, opens on the wrong days, or competes with the some of the ‘in crowd,’ there may be repercussions that include the silent boycotting of the business.

Business and golf might look easy to outsiders and there are people who have natural talent in both. However, until we’re taught some of the basic rules, we might be chasing down balls and dollars in a game that we’re guaranteed to lose.

Troy Media columnist David Fuller, MBA, is a certified professional business coach and author who helps business leaders ensure that their companies are successful. David is author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy. Confused about your business email

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